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Petrus barcode switch ‘tip of iceberg’

The woman who tried to buy bottles of Petrus worth €2,300 for €2.50 each by switching barcodes represents the tip of the iceberg, fraud experts say.

Leclerc: ‘real problem’

The 23-year-old, who has not been named, was caught last month in a Leclerc supermarket in Trélisssac, Dordogne, having changed barcodes, replacing the indicated price of about €2,300 per bottle with €2.50 labels, according to Agence France Presse.

But for every person caught, many more get away with such label switching, French supermarket executives told Decanter.com.

‘This is a real problem,’ David Bruguiere, wine buyer for Leclerc said.

Although a bottle of Petrus should be easily recognisable, most cashiers cannot tell the difference between cheap and expensive wine. If dishonest clients unpeel the price label from a bottle and put it on a more expensive one, they can get away with it, he said.

Such label switching is particularly easy during the foires aux vins, annual wine fairs at French supermarkets.
During the foires bottles are sometimes left unlabelled, and unused barcodes are left unsupervised, a representative for the supermarket chain Auchan said.

‘We are working on preventive measures,’ said Bruguiere, ‘but we are not sure what we can do yet.’

Written by Panos Kakaviatos

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