San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Consumer rights

Watch out for Mother's Day sales tricks, says Economy Ministry

Mother’s Day, celebrated on Friday in Costa Rica, is one of the country’s most popular – and lucrative – holidays, with some businesses offering month-long special pricing on items and services.

But a study released Monday by the Economy Ministry found that more than a quarter of businesses inspected in the San José area failed to follow the rules on promotional sales.

Ministry inspectors found abnormalities with Mother’s Day sale offers at 37 of 132 businesses they visited in the Greater Metropolitan Area.

Economy Vice Minister Geannina Dinarte said the most common violation was a failure to display both original and promotional prices of goods and services, meaning consumers are unaware if they are actually getting a discount. Of inspected businesses, 26 did not display both prices on tags, banners or in ads.

Inspectors also noted that many businesses failed to clearly publicize restrictions on offers, and several discounts were limited to cash purchases, which is prohibited by law.

Ministry officials inspected the businesses from July 29-Aug. 4, and violators – mostly clothing, shoe, appliance and technology stores – were given a written warning. Inspectors will return this week, and if businesses are caught again, they will be denounced at the National Consumer Commission. Fines could range from ₡2.3-₡9.4 million ($4,400-$17,700), equivalent to 10-40 base salaries, according to current consumer protection legislation.

“All information on discounts and special promotions must be clearly displayed to the consumer in order to promote market transparency, hence the importance of these inspections,” Dinarte said.

Consumers also can file complaints by calling 1311 and 800-2667-866, or by filling out an online complaint form at the Economy Ministry’s website.

Contact L. Arias at

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