NATIONAL NEWS - Senior officials of the department’s consumer protection services conducted a series of investigations following complaints of exorbitant price hiking.
The owner of a Phoenix business has been arrested for contravening the Consumer Protection Act and the Disaster Management Act regulations.
These regulations were issued by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, on 24 March.
The owner, who admitted hiking prices, will face a fine of R1-million or up to 10% of his business’s annual turnover.
In addition, there is a possibility of imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.
The unit followed up on other cases in Phoenix, Ballito, Durban and Pietermaritzburg where there were allegations of excessive prices on tinned fish, from R18 to R22, and hand soap from R12 to R17 at a specific supermarket.
This matter has been referred to the National Consumer Commission and Competition Commission for a non-compliance notice to be issued against the supermarket.
Consumers have also lodged complaints against an airline for refusing to issue refunds, instead offering vouchers after deducting a R300 cancellation fee.
Consumers should not be penalised in view of the national disaster announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
To protect consumers from exploitation during this period of lockdown, the department has engaged the services of the Consumer Goods Scheme Ombudsman.
Warning to all retailers
The Ombudsman has since issued a statement warning retailers and airlines of the consequences of non-compliance with the Consumer Protection Act.
He emphasised that consumers have the right to refunds.
As guided by the law, the department will intensify investigations of all complaints around excessive pricing by any retailer.
The department has strengthened its partnership with the SAPS, the National Consumer Commission, the National
Competition Authority and the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa.
A team of experienced officials from the department are on standby. Contact details are email – Consumer.Complaints@kznedtea.gov.za or WhatsApp – 082 4580706 or 082 3746660.