10 Years of Blog Archive

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Prices in Ecuador are NOT What is Listed

It’s kind of funny and annoying at the same time. In Ecuador you have to be very careful when you shop. The reason being is many items ring up different than what the price says. This issue is not surprising but it is annoying, and many times different means paying more for something.

Almost every time we go shopping, no matter where at, we have had to let the cash register attendant know that we did not want an item because it rang up for more than what it said on the price tag below the item.  We explain a couple of our personal experiences below. 

Now we’re not sure if you’re like us when you go shopping, but we look at prices. When a can of Ecuadorian white tuna says $1.22 we expect to pay $1.22 at the cash register but when it rings up as $1.49 we question it every time. Now this takes time, especially when you’re shopping in Coral because it is almost always busy at Coral unless it is early in the morning. Most of the time, because of time constraints, if an item rings up higher than what the price actually says we simply leave the item and don’t buy it. 

To some of you folks reading this you may be thinking the difference does not seem to be that much, but over time the difference does add up and if you’re not diligent it can and will add $5 to $10 dollars more on your weekly shopping bill, and even up to $40 more on your monthly shopping bill.  Some folks may not care about that too much but $40 can go a lot further here on food than in North America. 

For weeks the price of 15 organic brown eggs at Coral were showing $1.80 as the price below the eggs. We are pretty diligent and check the price below items carefully when shopping.  We make sure it is the same exact item by referencing the number on the product and the number on the price sticker below it. Here is what kept transpiring for weeks every time we shopped for the $1.80 eggs. 

We get to the check out the eggs ring up as $2.43 again. Umm nope, that is not the price. We wait and wait to have someone go back and check the price. She comes back and says in Spanish, “Yes, that’s the price, but the computer says $2.43 so we have to sell the eggs for that price. Frank puts on a big smile and tells them in his best Spanish (we’re sure he has an accent though) “Oh, ok, well forget it then, we don’t want the eggs at that price”. We leave the eggs sitting there on the counter, again, for like the tenth time. 

We go shopping quite frequently and this went on for some time with the eggs. We're very easy going people and do not complain but rather "show". We're not trying to be difficult; we just want to buy the food at the price it says on the item, not for what it rings up for at the cash register.

One day, about two weeks later, after doing this every time we went shopping, the eggs finally rang up as they appear on the price below them, $1.80, and we gave them a big friendly smile and told them “gracias over and over again and bought the eggs. This happened when we first got here, and to this day the eggs now always ring up as what the price says. A Coral employee must have changed the price "in the computer system" and all it took was probably less than a minute to do so. Now if they would just do the rest of the food products, that would be great!

We think that more people need to balk at higher price difference even if it is only $0.20 cents more. We do this because it is the only way to get the prices right. $0.20 cents or $30 at the end of the month won’t break you but it is the principle of the thing. 

In one store that we frequent often, Frank literally takes the store manager to the actual price of the item and shows her that the price is not what it is ringing up as, and she gives us the lower price every time. Doing this takes her away from her normal duties as manager, which helps them to realize they need to do some reorganization in their store.

Sometimes, if we really need a particular item and we don’t have time to go anywhere else, we relent, but not without balking, and go ahead and buy the item. This happened with some paint brushes that we needed that we were buying at “True Value Hardware”. The price was $0.75 each but wouldn’t you know it, they rang up as $0.98 cents each. But the boys were building me a new table for the living room and we needed them for staining so we bought the brushes. 

This kind of thing happens to us often at the cash register and we usually let the attendant know about the price discrepancy; sometimes we buy the item, but mostly we don’t.  This is a problem in all stores, even Supermaxi grocery store so it is probably not going away any time soon. 

Consumers can help to remedy this problem by letting the store know that the price below the item on the tag is showing a different price. It is up to you if you still want to buy the item or not, but if more people would take the time to let the store know their register prices do not reflect the item price, it may start to get them more organized from within.


  1. I have that happen to me all the time here in the US also. I in a grocery store and when foos rings up at the wrong price, I make sure the manager changes the price in the computer becuase it causes so many problems and time lost dealing with it. Would a person with little Spanish speaking ability be able to discuss the price problem? Would writing down the price get the idea across?

  2. Smiling, being courteous and polite and patient goes a long way, even if you have to use a lot of hand gestures. That's what we do...

  3. Where I live in Qu├ębec, if the shelf price advertise is different then the cash register and the price of the item is below a certain amount, the law says it is free
    So merchants really watch their pricing

  4. That's a great idea. I think Walmart has something similar.

    1. I work at Walmart. If the shelf price is less then price in computer, customer usually get the shelf price. No free item. I most of time want manager go to look what shelf price say to make sure customer is not taking advantage. Then I really like if they change it either in computer or on the shelf. It needs to be the same

  5. Certain stores here in the US seem to have more 'mistakes' than others, almost seem preplanned. Advertise a loss leader price then actually charge higher can make them a nifty profit. I try to watch every price ring and scan the final bill before we leave. Mark down items are a particular problem for some stores and not so diligent cashiers. Kudos to you for the due diligence on pricing.

  6. The Cuenca Coral Centro cash registers make a lot of mistakes, always in the store's favor Supermaxie is not off the hook, they once over charged me $5 dollars.


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