Commission issues infringement notices

Fijian Competitions and Consumer Commission officers Waisiki Loco (right) and Isimeli Vulagi inspect the prices of household items at one of the supermarkets in Lautoka. Picture: REINAL CHAND

THE Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued infringement notices to 19 traders while 12 have been verbally warned.

In a statement issued yesterday, FCCC chief executive officer Joel Abraham called on traders to ensure they carried out their businesses ethically or be prepared to face strict enforcement actions.

The commission confirmed that recent joint inspections carried out by the FCCC and the Consumer Council of Fiji highlighted that a handful of traders were engaging in unfair trade practices. Mr Abraham said so far 287 trader inspections had been conducted throughout Fiji of which 86 per cent of traders had been noted to be in compliance with the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission Act 2010 (FCCC Act 2010).

He said the FCCC was investigating eight traders found to be in possible breach of the Act whereby the traders were either found to be selling items without any price display and marking; engaging in false and misleading representations or false or misleading advertisement.

The commission has also urged consumers to refrain from engaging in last minute rushed shopping and plan their budget and shopping well.

Consumers have also been advised to avoid purchasing items purely because they are on special, but rather purchase items which are needed and advised them to note that some products which may be marked on very special prices may be close to expiry and purchasing them in large quantity and being unable to use in a timely manner can result in waste of money.

Meanwhile Mr Abraham said the FCCC had through its media monitoring and inspections also noted that a handful of traders had been engaging in bait advertising and price advantage.

He said it had been brought to the FCCC’s attention that some traders advertised items on “Specials” however at the counter they charged the normal price of the item which was higher.

“In other words, the price displayed on the shelf does not match the price charged to the customer at the checkout counter.

“When advertising special offers businesses must be offering something unusual and better than the normal e.g, lower prices or additional features,” he said.

Mr Abraham said the commission had also noted that festival specific items such as ghee, semolina, sultanas etc. faced price increases as traders were aware that consumers during this festival will purchase such products.

“Hence, the FCCC is undertaking a survey on the prices of such items in order to ascertain whether traders have engaged in price hikes.”

If consumers come across instances where they find that the prices of specific items related to the festival have significantly risen, then they are encouraged to report such incidents to the FCCC in person, via phone call or email.

Given that the inspections will continue for the next two days, the FCCC anticipates that traders comply with the requirements under the FCCC Act 2010 and provide consumers with value for money.

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