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Tunisia : Who says the truth ? The trade minister alone knows that, but he refuses to tell !

For many weeks , the Tunisian streets have been overwhelmed by advertising boards, boasting the price decrease efforts of one of the largest Hypermarkets in Tunisia and presenting it as n° 1 in the area. Prior to this, the newspapers published different adverts of the second largest brand of Hyper and supermarkets, and also boasting the great efforts in terms of price reduction. Who says he truth and who controls that these advertisements say the truth and are not simple “marketing tools”, to attract still more Tunisian consumers towards a space where you start with one caddy and you end up pushing at least two?
Why large distribution ?
189 stores, form the Tunisian large distribution sector. 45 belong to Magasin Général, another 45 to Champion, 40 to Monoprix, 13 to the Passage (subsidiary of the mother company of Monoprix and has an important part of the shares of Promogro).
The sector, which represents officially 12 % of ther total distribution market, is as a matter of fact, divided into three big poles. The first is managed by the French group Promodes and the Tunisian group Chaïbi with 30% market share. The second (Monoprix and Géant) belongs to Mabrouk with 32% market share. The last belongs to Gian-Poulina with 35% market share.
According to the French economic mission in Tunisia, modern distribution realises in 2005 a turnover of 800 MTND, i.e. 2% of the Tunisian GDP. Always according to the same source, in 2005, modern food distribution, represented by the hypermarkets, supermarkets, minimarkets and specialised department stores, represents  12% of the total turnover of the distribution sector (over 800 million dinars), for a commercial margin standing at 4335,5 MDT. This is a part of the distribution sector in any case, that was chosen by the ministry of commerce, to decide conventions of price moderation. Conventions which have certainly been commuication campaigns around the topic of price decreases. But did they (large retail stores) really do so?
The ministry is watching, but refuses to speak !
Through at least two institutions, the management of economic investigation and the national price observatory (this latter is so famous that we do not see anything published from it), the ministry of trade is watching carefully. No less than 22 thousand 676 control visits were undertaken mainly in large retail stores by investigation officials. As to the observatory, it receives each month we were told, a list of the products subject to price decreases, from each large store and proceeds then (if ever it does so) to checking the information provided to them. Not to mention another management, within the same ministry which would control the truthfulness of any advertising made relating to prices. We asked the trade ministry services, to give us the results of this work under the different chapters. The answer was always the same: No! The ministry services have always hid behind a pretexted «reserve obligation» relating to the information they receive from the large retail stores. The result is, however, an enormous confusion for the consumer, who always thinks to be deceived by the various advertisements relating to price decreases. The result is also a little air of omerta and silence that we may consider to be accomplice between the administrations and the sales people. The result is also a huge lack in transparency from this same administration which, through information retention, might risk to decrease its credibility with consumers whose rights it is supposed to defend. As everything is not rosy at the large retail stores who have nothing of saints and even contravene the laws!
Yet, they do not comply !
According to documents (of general order, not nominative and refusing to give the names of the operators) that we have been able, though, to snatch from the services of economic control, the brigades of Venezuela street (head office of the general economic management competition and control) noticed more than one breaks in the law  and important ones.
The 2086 inspection of the large retail stores concerning decreases in period of sales, showed that these large retail stores respected the fixed minimum (20 %) during these sales, were making promotions instead of sales, misled the consumers relating to decrease rates, deceived them relating to the product specifications, denied them the guarantee right, denied them the right to a cooling off period, did not respect quality for the ‘sales’ products , used deceptive advertising relating to prices and product availabilityand did not respect the parity between offer and discount rates. The list is long and says a lot on the practices the ministry is hiding !
1200 other inspections, always in large retail stores, concerned promotional sales and fines were « up to expectations ».
Obligation to buy in order to participate to the contests, absence of gifts during the contests, non respect of the value of the gift which, legally, should good, deceptive advertising and misleading on product specifications, these were among the fines !
 Which one among the large retail stores is misleading or using deceptive advertising? Which one among these large retail stores refuses all the rights to consumers? The minister of trade alone knows that and he doesn’t want to speak!


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