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If you take for granted that competition will ensure you the best price for your purchase, you might be in for a shock, as the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio (MEIC) – Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce – found in their latest survey of 25 retailers in the Gran Área Metropolitana (GAM) – Greater San José Area.

The MEIC found price differences of up to 78% on identical items and up to 292% on similar items.

The MEIC found a difference of up 229% on similar coffee products, 229% on similar rice cookers and 228% on similar frying pans, for example.

For example, an LG LCD flatcreen television going for ¢149.900 at Importadora Monge in Cartago and ¢267.500 at Hogar Feliz in Heredia: difference ¢117.600 colones or 78%.

Diferencia de precios en artículos

For the full report click here (The link will take you to the MEIC pdf file)

The MEIC says it also found irregularities in credit terms and payment plans.

Buying on credit can increase the purchase price with rates of up to 64% annual interest. The MEIC report found that a 34% annual interest was the lowest offered.

MEIC deputy minister, Luis Alvarez, is calling on consumers to shop around and file a complaint if case of problems.

To report a consumer problem, the MEIC can be reached by telephone at 800-266-7866 (toll free in Costa Rica), their website at: http://meic.go.cr/  or in person at: Sabana Sur, 400 m  West of the Contraloría General de la República