- South African grocery stores have come under scrutiny for their price inflations in recent weeks
- This comes after consumers voiced complaints over the increased prices of ginger and garlic during the pandemic
- Seven major suppliers are currently under investigations by the National Consumer Commission
The National Consumer Commission (NCC) has launched an investigation into claims that a few retailers have inflated the prices of garlic and ginger.
The investigation comes after a series of complaints were lodged against the grocery stores on social media platforms.
Consumer and Customer Protection and National Disaster Management Regulations and Directions, issued in terms of Regulation 350 of Government Notice 43116, contains a list of 22 essential products which a supplier cannot overcharge on.
According to acting Consumer Commissioner Thezi Mabuza, the purpose of this was to make sure that no one was at a disadvantage in accessing certain services during this state of national disaster. Seven companies are under the spotlight for price fixing. These are Food Lovers Market, Spar, Shoprite, Woolworths, Pick n Pay, Boxer and Cambridge Foods.
Mabuza added that their investigation was not limited to these stores and if customers suspect unfair pricing at other stores, they were welcome to report it. She continued:
“These allegations, if proven true, would constitute a violation of Regulation 350 and an imposition fine of up to R1 000 000 or up to 10% of a supplier’s annual turnover or even imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.”
Complaints regarding consumer-related issues can be lodged by contacting the NCC on 0800 014 880 or 012 428 7000.
Meanwhile Briefly.co.za previously reported that Dis-Chem has been found guilty of price gouging by the Competition Tribunal, accused of hiking the prices of surgical face masks.
The pharmacy chain was fined R1.2 million for raising the prices of critical surgical face masks at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Briefly.co.za reported that the Competition Commission had started investigations of retail giants taking advantage of the panic when the virus arrived in South Africa. The watchdog had received complaints from the public concerning Dis-Chem hiking the prices of masks.
Dis-Chem had argued during a hearing that disruptions in supply and suppliers increasing prices had forced them to adjust prices, claiming the competitors in the industry had done the same.
However, the tribunal wasn't buying this story and ruled that Dis-Chem had violated the Competition Act by charging inflated prices for three kinds of surgical face masks.
The commission had shown how Dis-Chem had exerted market power by increasing prices to 'significant levels', reports News24:
"One such increase took place on the very day that South Africa's first Covid-19 case was announced."
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