A complaint-driven trader visit by the Consumer Council of Fiji yesterday ) has revealed that consumers were being charged $11.80 for a pack for 4Kg sugar and $5.90 for a2Kg pack by a Navua based trader – a violation of the Price Control Order which clearly demarcates the price of different brands of sugar.
The trader in question was also found not issuing receipts to consumers – another violation of relevant consumer protection laws.
“Whilst the average price of a 4 kg pack of sugar is $7.16 and $3.64 for a 2 kg pack, consumers ended up paying an additional $4.70 and $2.26 respectively.
The long queue of consumers witnessed during the trader visit indicated that a lot of consumers were ripped off”, stated the Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Shandil.
This move by the trader is not only illegal but is also extremely unethical.
This is a common occurrence and a smart tactic used by traders especially during crisis where the price of certain items suddenly escalates overnight.
The Council has come across such unfair trade practices where consumers are left with no choice but to purchase the item because it is needed.
“On one hand we are fighting a deadly pandemic and on the other we have certain businesses who are trying to profiteer off people who are already suffering,” said Ms Shandil.
The Consumer Watchdog is also calling upon consumers to demand for correct prices in such instances and not to spend erroneous amounts of money.
“Consumers need to become more assertive and make informed decisions. If traders are violating laws, consumers should not just turn a blind eye and pay whatever is being charged
by traders. Consumers also have a responsibility to report any such cases so that such unethical
practices can be nipped off as soon as possible”, added Ms Shandil.
Whilst the Council has issued a warning letter to the trader for the violation of the Price Control
Order and FCCC Act, the case has also been flagged to the relevant enforcement body so that
such unscrupulous traders can be charged for taking advantage of the vulnerability of
Consumers coming across such unethical trading practices are encouraged to call the Council
on toll-free number 155 or lodge a complaint using the Consumer Council of Fiji mobile app.