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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 January, 2004, 15:50 GMT
Italy in a froth over euro cheats
Cappuccino
Italians take coffee prices very seriously indeed
In the first court case of its kind, an Italian coffee bar has been fined for using the launch of the euro to get away with hiking its prices.

Like many Europeans, Italians accuse retailers of having unfairly rounded up prices after January 2002, when euro notes and coins went into circulation.

A judge has now ordered a bar near Rome to pay 23 euro cents compensation for charging one euro for a cappuccino.

"The cappuccino has had its revenge," consumer group Codacons said.

"The judge has established an extremely important principle... now millions of writs will be prepared for those who have kept their till receipts."

Taking advantage

The bar owner, who plans to appeal, insisted that she merely rounded up her prices for the sake of sticking to round numbers and easier book-keeping.

Previously, she charged 1,500 lire, the equivalent of 77 euro cents.

But this rounding violates statutes in most eurozone countries - something that has resulted in curious-sounding prices in countries such as France, where rules have been tightly enforced.

Consumers have been pointing the finger at opportunistic retailers since price tags were swapped over two years ago, with the loudest noises made in Italy.

In Italy and Greece, consumers have organised boycotts over "euro-flation", and there have been persistent campaigns in Germany and the Netherlands.

Last month, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi weighed in to the debate, urging Italians to shop around to avoid euro fiddles.




SEE ALSO:
Berlusconi goes cool on the euro
21 Dec 03  |  Business
'Euroflation' sparks Greek boycott
03 Sep 02  |  Business


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