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Can a shop manager stop you from taking photos in store? We ask 4 big retailers

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler’s 'watch-outs of the week'

Wendy Knowler Consumer journalist
Prior consent from store management is the way to go if you want to take photos in a retail store. Stock photo.
Prior consent from store management is the way to go if you want to take photos in a retail store. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF

In this weekly segment of bite-sized chunks of useful information, consumer journalist Wendy Knowler summarises news you can use:

Photos in store: Security and privacy factors at stake

Can a shop manager stop you from taking photos in store? That’s what Xolile wanted to know after being told to stop doing so in a Gauteng branch of Liquor City at the weekend.

“I collect wine,” he wrote, “and I pay particular attention to wines that are either rare or becoming rare, purely for my own consumption at a later stage.

“A lot of the retailers will have just a few of these in stock so I make notes of them on my phone and when I have budgeted I go back and buy them.

“The manager in the Northcliff store forced me to stop, so I left, but I wasn’t even sure if I was in the wrong. Was he entitled to do that?”

Confession: For many years I’ve been taking “shelfies” in a range of retail stores, mainly supermarkets: of products, their prices, bizarre signage, Christmas decorations going up in early September, you name it — and I’ve never been stopped.

So I asked Liquor City to respond, and for good measure I asked a few supermarket groups about their policy on people taking photos in their stores.

Short answer: they can and sometimes will stop you from taking images on the grounds of security or privacy.

Should managers step in when a customer is obviously aiming their phone camera solely at a product and its price on shelf? I don’t think so.

Liquor City: “Unfortunately liquor stores are some of the most crime-affected businesses in SA, with armed robberies and burglaries occurring weekly. For security reasons and to protect staff and customers, we do not allow photos or videos in our stores. Any prices are readily available to customers who need only ask the store manager.”

Shoprite: “The supermarket group sees no benefit in enforcing such a customer policy as product and price details are readily available on all public platforms. It is, however, a different situation if the taking of such a recording or photo presents a security-related risk or infringes on the rights of any individual in the store.”

Pick n Pay: “We kindly request that photographs aren’t taken in store without permission, and this policy appears on signage at the entrance of stores. This is to protect the privacy of our customers, apart from other safety and trade considerations.”

Woolworths: “We acknowledge that we live in a digital age and appreciate that our shoppers want to capture and/or share their shopping experiences in our stores. Our priority remains to ensure the safety and security of all our people and customers. In instances where individuals would like to film or take photos in store, we do encourage them to get prior consent from our store management.”

It pays to diarise these dates

Adulting involves a ridiculous amount of admin, but failing to stay on top of the boring stuff has all kinds of nasty consequences.

Making diary notes about when things need to get done is a really good habit to get into — when your car needs to get serviced, for example, to avoid invalidating your warranty and service plan on the grounds of not sticking to the prescribed service intervals.

When you buy something, especially a high-ticket item, make a note of when its six-month Consumer Protection Act warranty expires — both on that end-date and a month before, so you can raise any issues in time to benefit from that golden warranty.

I call it golden because if something goes wrong with a product you’ve bought within six months of purchase, or delivery, you have the right to choose your remedy: refund, replacement or repair.

From the seventh month, the manufacturer’s warranty kicks in and they get to decide on the remedy. Their first choice is a repair, as it costs them the least, followed by a replacement and only as a last resort, a refund.

Chris bought a vacuum cleaner last August, and it suddenly stopped working last month. “By the time I had found the invoice and sent an e-mail to the retailer, it was March 2, just two days after the CPA warranty had expired,” he said.

Had he known in advance the exact date that warranty expired, he’d most definitely have sent an e-mail sooner.

Check this all-important number on your cellphone contract

With the cost of new smartphones escalating, cellphone service providers are now offering 36-month contracts along with the traditional 24-month ones.

If you opt for a 24-month contract, make very sure that’s the number which appears on your contract.

In January, Jane got one of those “you are due for an upgrade” phone calls, and she accepted the offer. But she says, she insisted on a 24-month contract.

“I repeated this several times, but when I saw my account later that month, I saw I was committed to a 36-month contract.”

The service provider agreed that Jane had been misled but insisted on cancelling the contract rather than letting her continue with it — but over 24 months, not 36, as she’d been led to believe. Definitely something to watch out for.

CONTACT WENDY: E-mail: consumer@knowler.co.za; Twitter: @wendyknowler; Facebook: wendyknowlerconsumer


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