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Consumers urged to be wary of price gouging

Solomone Rabulu
Saturday, February 10, 2018

CONSUMERS have been urged to be very observant of any overpricing of goods by traders.

This comes after the Consumer Council of Fiji (CCF) yesterday advised traders to refrain from engaging in price gouging following the news of an impending tropical depression likely to form into a Category 1 tropical cyclone within the next 48 hours.

Price gouging refers to the market conduct where traders increase the prices of goods, services or commodities to a much higher level that is considered exploitative, potentially to an unethical and illegal extent.

Council chief executive officer Premila Kumar said it was unfortunate that price gouging was so ingrained in our culture.

"The council objects to such practices because high prices don't put goods in the hands of someone who values it more, but rather into the hands of someone who has money. Price gouging places a bigger burden on the poor," Ms Kumar said.

"Traders are also warned that increasing prices during natural disasters amounts to unfair trade practices particularly under Section 66 and 76 of Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) Act 2010.

"Consumers are advised to avoid any last-minute shopping and exercise caution when shopping during cyclone warnings."

Ms Kumar said they had noticed an increase in complaints against traders who took advantage of people's hardship by increasing prices of goods which were not under price control.

"Some often use the excuse of an increase in demand as justification for the increase in price," she said.

Items that consumers generally buy in preparation for the adverse weather in addition to food include batteries, candles, torches, bottled water, hurricane lanterns and lamps, chargers and lights, ropes, building materials, generators, tarpaulin, tents, carpentry and electrical tools and matches.

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