Retailers don't always sell their commodities at the same price. How can the consumer be sure he or she is getting the best value? For residents in northeast China's Shenyang city, the answer to this question is made easier due to service provided by the local government.
The pricing department in Shenyang recently opened a price market which allows consumers to check the standard prices set down by the local government for more than 5 thousand different commodities and services. Here they can find out whether they've been overcharged for the goods, and the service is free.
Entering the market, you see piles of cards lying on shelves according to their different categories covering more than 30 industries, including medical care, education, real estate, and so on.
For instance, the local standard price for cleaning up the decorative waste for a two-room apartment is listed at 260 yuan, or around US$30. Customers can also find on the card the names of the departments where they can go for help or file complaints.
The local residents have welcomed the move.
"It's quite a good idea to open such a market. In the past, we had no clear idea of the price of each commodity, now all the standard prices can be easily found on these cards. It's very useful for us everyday customers."
That's exactly the purpose of opening the new center, explains Zhang Chunhong from the local pricing department.
"As the standard prices were not transparent to the public before, customers were often overcharged. We hope our service can prevent unreasonable and illegal charging by sellers"
The official hopes that by this practice, customers can easily identify if they've been cheated and decide what price to pay. Competition on the market is also further standardized and the interests of consumers are protected.
(CRI May 13, 2004)