Price gouging

PRICE gouging places a big burden on the poor, says Consumer Council of Fiji CEO Premila Kumar.

“Traders are warned that increasing prices during natural disasters amounts to unfair trade practices particularly under Section 66 and 76 of Commerce Commission Act 2010,” she said.

Ms Kumar in a statement issued on Monday has warned traders to refrain from price gouging after a tropical cyclone warning was put in place for Fiji.

A common practice in Fiji, Ms Kumar said price gouging was where traders increased the prices of goods and services which was considered exploitative, unethical and illegal.

“It’s where some traders try to make money from people during natural disasters on items consumers generally bought in preparation for the adverse weather and it includes food, batteries, candles, torches, bottled water, hurricane lanterns and lamps, chargers and lights, ropes, building materials, generators, tarpaulin, tents, carpentry and electrical tools and matches,” Ms Kumar said.

The council had noted 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.”

The council objects to such practices and are warning consumers to exercise caution when shopping during cyclone warnings and to call the National Consumer Helpline number 155 for any advice or to lodge complaints against this practice.

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