Retail fraud, simplified

Price Change In Aisle 5, At The Push Of A Button: New System Simplifies Retail Price Tagging

“To make this possible, we have integrated a receiver in each screen. Each display can be separately controlled via a transmitter in the central computer.” If strawberries are on special offer, for instance, the store manager only needs to copy the file containing the new price into the main directory – and the price displayed on the strawberry shelf is instantly updated. To ensure that the price is changed on the correct display screen, the name of this file is the numerical code of the appropriate display.

And if the store manager changes the price on the strawberries between when you read the sign and when you get to the cash register, that’s just too bad for you, isn’t it? With a few strategically placed cameras and some image-recognition software, you could even automate the process: low price when a customer goes to read the sign, higher price at the register and when a clerk goes to do a price check.

In New York City (and probably other places) there’s a law against raising the price of an item once it hits the shelf, for exactly this kind of reason. But I see that these signs were developed in germany, where no doubt retailers are more law-abiding.

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