As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the nation, there is no doubt that certain unscrupulous traders have seized the opportunity to prey on consumers. Even as the government, civil societies and businesses are trying their best to tackle the COVID 19 crisis, some dodgy sellers are not shying away from making money out of the suffering.
Following the confirmation of the first confirmed case of COVID 19 in Fiji, complaints of conditional selling; price gouging of essential items; sale of fake masks and poor customer service flooded the Council lists of complaints mostly as a result of panic buying.
Whilst the Council acknowledges that unethical practices such as conditional selling have lowered in numbers on the other hand, complaints of high prices charged for basic food items and medications and sale of rotten; stale and expired food items still remains a concern.
Unethical practices such as misleading advertisements and failure to provide redress despite payments being made for services remain on the rife.
Furthermore, with the reduction in fuel price effective 1st May 2020, the Council also received complaints of consumers being sold kerosene and fuel at the old price.
The Council is astounded at the behaviour of these dubious traders who continue to rip off those already in financial despair.
Despite several stern warnings issued to traders; continuous market surveillance by the Council confirmed that unconscionable conduct by certain businesses has not died down and consumers who are already struggling to make ends meet as a result of job losses and reduced hours of work are bearing the full brunt of these dishonest business practice.
The Council as a watch dog of consumer interest will not hesitate to surface and expose names of opportunistic traders who profiteer from vulnerable Fijians at times.
“We must remember that during this time of increased economic and global challenges, traders will need consumers for the survival of their businesses. It is important therefore that honest market practices are employed for the benefit of both parties,” said the Council CEO, Ms Seema Shandil.