IT IS a business trick as old as time – but it is nonetheless contentious for all its longevity. In simple terms, you give the shopper less for the same price. You don't risk openly raising prices – you just sneak a price hike in by giving the punters less product.
Today our consumer correspondent brings you details of the latest of how leading brand manufacturers are giving between 5pc and 16pc less product in their packages.
Consumer advocates have condemned the practice. But how big an issue can it be?
The devil's advocates will ask how many of us in this busy world will take the time to see how much volume is contained in the many packaged household goods we bring home from the shops? So, the companies steal a march. What the punter does not know cannot trouble them. A portion of these products, such as sauces, goes in the bin anyway after expiry dates. Life goes on.
Others will argue that the companies cited today often carry big staff and other costs and make a variety of contributions to the economy and society generally.
Well, let's concede the bulk of those points. It is hardly crime of the century coming from people who are not high in the public-enemy ratings. But it is still wrong.
No trader will take defective money from any shopper. Why should a shopper have to part with hard-earned money for less product than they believed they were getting? Yes, it is a tough commercial world right now with no easy money to be had. But keeping faith with the customer is a bankable commodity.
Trust, once it is lost, can be extremely difficult to re-gain.
Sneaking in a price increase by giving less product may be as old as time. But public distaste for this practice is equally venerable.