Council cautions traders and advices consumers for Diwali shopping

01/11/2010 16:03

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.

Many retailers are fully aware of the importance of Diwali for many consumers and are keen on maximising the occasion to make profits by engaging in unscrupulous conduct such as false claim, misleading and bait advertising, selling poor quality products at premium price, old stock and expired or defective products. The Council wishes to make it known that it is very vigilant and will not hesitate to take appropriate action and report to enforcement agencies if rules are breached and consumers are cheated off their hard-earned money.  The Council will be monitoring the market and will assist the enforcement authorities with information and evidence of breaches.

The Council is warning retailers not breach any laws on the sale of firecrackers. Our market surveillance found several breaches in this area last year. One of the most common breaches was shops failed to put up notices informing consumers that firecrackers would only be sold to people over 18-years-old and children wanting to buy firecrackers should be accompanied by an adult. Many children were seen buying firecrackers without adult supervision. Many retail outlets were also selling firecrackers with labels written in foreign language which is not only illegal but also dangerous too as consumers would not know what precaution they need to take including instructions for using it. This information is crucial for the safety of consumers.

The Council is also advising consumers to be responsible and stick to your budget.  People should not be extravagant in their spending, but perhaps re-examine the meaning of Diwali as an important religious festival and a time to get together with friends and families.

Consumers are often distracted by the festive atmosphere which leads to misreading of advertisements and product information. The Council advises consumers to ensure that they read and understand sales adverts, product information and promotions that are being presented to them during such festive occasions.