Press Releases 2010
The Consumer Council of Fiji believes mothers should have a choice between bottle feeding and breastfeeding as for most mothers the decision to formula feed babies is often a matter of necessity rather than personal choice. The Council also believes that breast milk is the best for babies as it contains all nutrients needed for healthy growth but many women are forced to bottle-feed their infants because of certain medical and social conditions.
Morris Hedstrom should stop evading and answer the questions raised by the Consumer Council of Fiji on its loyalty programme. MH is yet to inform consumers why it has double the points needed to redeem certain gifts under the Flash & Gain programme.
The Consumer Council of Fiji reconfirms that Morris Hedstroms Flash and Gain loyalty programme is a moneymaking venture rather than a reward system for its loyal customers with the recent decision by MH to double the points needed to redeem certain gifts under the programme. In September this year, MH revised its existing gift redemption list doubling the points required to redeem certain products. In 2009, MH went further and increased the $1 per point earned under Flash & Gain card to $5 per point making it harder for their loyal consumers to accumulate points and now with doubling the points it has made it difficult for consumers to redeem rewards.
The Consumer Council of Fiji is impressed with the efforts of the Ministry of Health and Municipal Councils to improve restaurant hygiene in the country. The recent initiative to introduce colored stickers for restaurants passing the minimum health standards by the municipal councils is commendable. The Council has for long advocated for restaurant grading system based on the large number of complaints it has been receiving against eateries.
The Consumer Council of Fiji survey on the Fiji Pharmaceutical Industry revealed that majority of the pharmacies in the country is profiteering through astronomical trade margins. The key findings in price analysis for individual medications showed that 30 pharmacies out of the 47 surveyed or 57% charged higher prices for medications with same brand, same batch number, expiry date and same quantity; in some cases overcharge was up to as high as 460%. Our findings show that despite prescription medicines being under price control within maximum percentage mark-up of 35%, the trade margins are very high.
Consumers of hair care products in Fiji face health and safety risk with large number of fake hair products flooding the local market. The Consumer Council of Fiji in the recent months has been inundated with complaints not only from consumers but also from traders on cheap counterfeit hair care products sold and used in retail outlets and hair salons.
The Consumer Council of Fiji is warning retailers that it has heightened its market surveillance and is conducting random checks on shops as Diwali draws near. This is because Council’s past experience shows that Diwali festivity and commercial hype associated with this important religious and cultural event can often lead to unfair trading practices.
A recent survey conducted by the Consumer Council of Fiji on the prices of most commonly used medicines in the country has shown that some of them have increased significantly by 100 to 180 % from 2007 to 2009, further burdening the consumers. And the Council believes that the consumers will continue to fork out excessive costs for essential medication unless there is fair play and true competition in the pharmaceutical industry in Fiji.
Upon our Trader Visit through Cumming Streets there were eight shops in total that was visited.
The Consumer Council of Fiji is disappointed that some private doctors in Labasa and in rural areas are not keeping patients medical record thus putting their patients at risk. These doctors should know better on the importance of keeping medical record for their patients. Medical record provides information about patient’s health conditions, the treatments given and the medical diagnoses received. Medical records not only assist patients with chronic illnesses, who may need to see many different specialists where each specialist would like to know what other doctors did but also needed to verify insurance claims and in cases of medical negligence.
The Consumer Council of Fiji wants standards for marine plywood for the safety of fisherman and seafarers. The call for investigation on locally manufactured marine plywood comes after Council received complaints from a boat builder on the low quality marine plywood sold to them.
The Chairman of Consumer Council of Fiji Mr. Narendra Padarath today announced that the CEO of Consumer Council Mrs. Premila Kumar has decided to continue in her position as the CEO of the Council.
The Consumer Council of Fiji wishes to urge consumers to make oral and written submissions on how they are affected by the increase in tariff rates. Since the implementation of the June 2010 tariff rates, the Council has been inundated with complaints from confused and frustrated consumers on exorbitant electricity bills. This is a good opportunity for consumers to present their case to the Commerce Commission. From January to July 2010, the Council received 71 complaints against FEA excluding complaints lodged by consumers by phone.
The Consumer Council of Fiji is calling for the abolishment of the security deposits levied by Fiji Electricity Authority. The Council believes that FEA’s security deposit requirement is illogical if consumers have not defaulted payments. In addition to this security deposit is an archaic required and should be abolished.
The Consumer Council of Fiji welcomes Commerce Commission’s report on the investigation on hardware industry which concurs with our own findings of anti-competitive behaviour and unfair practices in the hardware sector. The consumers themselves have experienced exorbitant prices and unfair practices in the hardware industry for far too long. The independent report from the Commerce Commission verifies Council’s concerns.
The Consumer Council of Fiji would like to inform consumers that the Department of Weight and Measures has requested Rewa Dairy to recall a batch of 1 litre Rewa Life (blue packet) liquid milk because the milk content is below the stated volume of 1 litre . This is after the Council requested the Weight and Measures Department to verify the volume of this milk after receiving complaint from a concerned consumer. The blue packet Rewa Life is packaged in New Zealand by Fontera Limited. The milk packets concerned bear the batch/bar code number 9 416121 150974. Consumers should return the milk to the supermarket/shops where it was first purchased. The Council is also urging Rewa Dairy to refund money to its wholesalers and retailers where consumers will be returning the product. The Council would like to advice consumers needing detailed information on this particular recall to contact the Rewa Dairy.
The Consumer Council of Fiji wants a control on unlicensed electricians and this includes banning all advertisements from these unlicensed operators in the Yellow Pages of the Fiji Directories and other mediums such as the newspapers. The Council believes that these advertisements mislead consumers to unknowingly engage the services of unlicensed electrical contractors posing fire safety hazards and high level risks to consumers.
Vodafone Fiji Limited in today’s Fiji Times has stated that the reason for merging the M-paisa form and the form designed to facilitate the compulsory registration under the Compulsory Registration of Customers for Telephone Service Decree 2010 is to “...avoid confusion in the market...”.
Pacific Sun, Fiji’s only domestic airline, continues to use its dominant position to dictate domestic air travel and nothing is being done by the authorities to stop the airline from making inconsiderate decisions which affects the consumers. The reports in the media today on Pacific Sun passengers bound for Lakeba seeking help from police to sort out problems with their luggage is another example of the airline being indifferent to consumers needs. What is sad is that nothing is being done by the authorities to hold the domestic carrier responsible and compensate for consumer’s losses.
The Consumer Council wants better standards set and enforced for electrical goods coming into the country. This is after Council received 76 complaints on electronic goods from January to June 2010. In 2009 a total of 129 complaints were received and the Council expects this years figure to be much higher. The Council has found that many electronic products flooding the market are giving consumers false expectations about their quality and longevity.