Central Valley businesses misleading customers, report finds

November 7, 2012

More than half of the hotels in the Greater Metropolitan Area of ​​Costa Rica either do not provide accurate information to consumers, or actively conceal it, according to a study by the Economy Ministry.

The study, made public on Tuesday, was conducted from April-September in 57 hotels, restaurants and shops in the provinces of San José, Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago. It included information obtained directly from businesses, as well as from advertisements and websites.

Ministry inspectors visited hotels twice. On the first inspection, businesses providing inaccurate or false information – a violation of commerce rules – received a warning. On the second inspection, officials said all of the hotels had corrected the errors.

The study found that 51 percent of hotels did not properly inform customers about room rates, providing prices without taxes included.

Inspectors also noticed that many stores did not inform customers that promotional pricing was valid only to those who paid in cash. Some stores required a minimum purchase for those paying with credit or debit cards.

Other problems included failure to provide receipts, failure to visibly display the exchange rate and offering prices without sales tax.

Ministry officials advised consumers to report violations by phone at: 800-266-7866.

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