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Euro con-artists named and shamed on Net

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German shops and business that use the introduction of the euro as an excuse to raise prices are to be named and shamed on the Internet.

The plan has been announced by Barbel Hohn, the consumer protection minister for Germany's largest state, North Rhine-Westphalia. She is angry that despite promises to the contrary, German businesses have taken advantage of confusion over the true worth of euros to up prices.

It works like this: if you buy something for £4.99 normally, this is worth 7.86 euros. But a shop will charge say 7.99 euros - which is actually £5.07. This is only an increase of 1.6 per cent, but in a survey, German officials have found that prices have increased by an average of 4.4 per cent.

In the same survey, of 100 goods that were checked, an incredible 86 per cent of them had increased in price when moving from marks to euros. The retailers may see it as a one-off bumper windfall, but the government is distinctly less impressed and hopes the naming and shaming campaign will cause shops to buck up their ideas.

There is no law against companies raising the price in euros but eurocrats are worried that such a policy will make introducing the currency on 1 January even harder and cause widespread resentment against the new currency.

Perhaps Germany should have stuck with the UK approach to the euro which is argue continually about it, produce ludicrously ambiguous statements regarding its introduction (the only way to survive politically) but never actually discuss its pros and cons in an intelligent, objective manner.

We wonder how long it will be before chief execs start paying themselves in revalued euro salaries? ®

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