FairPrice sets up new process to ensure scales are accurate

Supermarket chain alerted after ST Forum writer says item he bought lighter than stated

A retail assistant handling the weighing scales at an NTUC FairPrice outlet at Toa Payoh Hub.
A retail assistant handling the weighing scales at an NTUC FairPrice outlet at Toa Payoh Hub. ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

The scales at NTUC FairPrice outlets here have been re-checked and all produce re-weighed to ensure accuracy. This is after it was found that shoppers had been paying more for food items at one outlet due to a weighing error.

Staff at the 130 or so outlets now also have a new procedure to follow before using a scale: They have to check that its weighing tray is aligned properly, ensure that it is calibrated at zero and that there are no obstructions.

Responding to The Straits Times yesterday, the supermarket chain's director of corporate communications, Mr Jonas Kor, said that the re-checking and the re-weighing were completed on Wednesday.

Investigations, he said, revealed that the error was due to a misaligned tray on the affected scale.

"This was an isolated incident and was rectified immediately when it was discovered," he said, adding that all scales at the outlets are regularly inspected and calibrated by a government-certified vendor.

He said: "The scales are also frequently checked by store operations staff and surprise checks are conducted by the authorities.

"We assure customers that no other scales in the store were affected." He added that affected customers can obtain a full refund or exchange.

The case of the problematic scale came to light in a letter on The Straits Times website on Tuesday.

Reader Ng Chong Wee said that the broccoli that he had bought from the Bukit Batok MRT station outlet was 136g lighter than stated on the label.

It meant that he paid 94 cents more than he should have.

The Straits Times understands that Spring Singapore visited the affected outlet on Wednesday.

The body, which regulates weighing and measuring instrument use here, checked the scales and did not find anything amiss.

Retailers here must use scales with an accuracy label, which indicates that the instrument has been verified fit and accurate for trade use. Those using weighing and measuring devices without the label can be fined up to $2,000.

Associate Professor of Marketing at the NUS Business School Ang Swee Hoon said that it was good that FairPrice acted fast, told people it was an isolated incident and highlighted corrective action.

"Offering a full refund is good too; it's making good what had gone wrong," she said, adding that it is not easy to discern weight with the naked eye.

When contacted, Mr Ng said that he was glad that FairPrice had taken action to rectify the problem.

The part-time technician said that he was not angry when he found out he had been overcharged as "it was a matter of a few cents".

"But I thought, how long has this been going on for? I also felt that the supermarket should be more careful," said the 65-year-old, adding that he had received a refund.

Another shopper, Ms Syafa Yusoff, 27, said: "It's disappointing this happened because we depend on retail outlets for groceries and trust them to be careful. But I guess it is good that something has been done about the problem."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2015, with the headline 'FairPrice sets up new process to ensure scales are accurate'. Print Edition | Subscribe