Shoppers told to look out for price gouging and expired goods

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The Prices and Consumer Affairs Division is imploring residents to exercise caution when shopping – particularly now for essential items – as there have been reports of expired items being placed on shelves. They are also asking the public to be mindful of price gouging.

“During this crisis period, we realise that there have been traders with expired goods on their shelves. And these are goods that are deemed necessary by consumers to safeguard themselves,” spokeswoman, Jo-Ann Peters, told Observer.

She explained that once the goods have expired, the safety can no longer be guaranteed.

As far as price gouging is concerned, Peters said, “If you think as a consumer the price is too high, but you must make the purchase because you need the item during this seven-day lockdown period, it is okay if you make the purchase.”

 She said that in those instances, persons must keep their receipts until the Prices and Consumer Affairs office reopens, so it can investigate and ensure shoppers are appropriately reimbursed.

Furthermore, once it is found that indeed the consumer has paid in excess of the maximum selling price, then the trader will be made to refund the consumer the excess amount and will be prosecuted under the relevant law.

The Distribution and Price of Goods Act states, “Any person who contravenes any of the provisions under the subsection shall be guilty of an offence against this act, and shall on a summary conviction be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine not exceeding $5,000, or be on conviction or under indictment be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to a fine not exceeding $25,000.”

Peters warned traders against marking up goods more than the stipulated markup percentages.

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