Is a seller free to decide whether or not to mark each package or item with a price, or is this a legal requirement? When is it alright to use a barcode instead of a price?
Apart from the obligation to post the price of goods next to the product display (on tags, labels or placards), a retail seller is also required to mark each unit package or item with the price. Under certain condition, this requirement may be met by using barcodes. First, the items marked only with a barcode must be accompanied by price tags. In a self-service point of sale, the retailer is required to insure that there are functioning barcode scanners available that shoppers may use to check the prices of specific items—one scanner for each 400 sq m of sales area, excluding the checkout area. The scanners must display the price of the item, with its trade name or abbreviation worded in a way that easily and clearly identifies the product. The retailer must also assure that the price displayed on the scanner and the price shown on the tag are the same.
In order to assist consumers in a self-service shopping area, the seller is also required to ensure that staff of separate stands and sections of the shop are prepared to scan the price of an item from the barcode whenever a shopper requests.
There are restrictions on reliance on barcodes for items beyond certain dimensions. For goods sold by weight or volume, the limits are 5 kg or 5 l, respectively (excluding packaging). In the case of products sold per item, barcodes may be used instead of individual price tags only if the total of the maximum length, width and height of the item are 2 m or less, and the item does not exceed 5 kg in weight or 5 l in volume.
This article was originally published on 27 January 2011 as part of the “Commercial Law Academy” series in Dziennik Gazeta Prawna daily