Traders asked to be responsible, ethical during festive season

18/12/2013 08:31

The Consumer Council of Fiji is calling on the traders to act responsibly by refraining from selling expired, sub-standard and poor quality goods to the consumers.

The stern warning comes in light of Council’s recent market surveillance which found some traders engaging in questionable trading practices. In the past couple of weeks we have increased our surveillance and visits to retail outlets to ensure that consumers are not being exploited as many spend their hard-earned money on Christmas shopping.

Recently we found one prominent supermarket selling breakfast crackers two months after its best before date and at normal price. Our team had also come across another supermarket which has problems with its shelf storage of flour. Some supermarkets are selling rotten and cut apples cheaply and these are often packaged and shelved in such a way that consumers can easily pick them up without noticing the rotten and cut parts.

Other issues that we have found in the past two weeks include foreign language labeling on food items, which is illegal under the Food Safety Act and Regulations. One retailer is currently being investigated forusing receipts written in foreign language script. Section 79 of the Vat Decree 1991 requires business to keep records such as receipts, invoices, etc in the English language.

The Council is warning traders, particularly supermarkets that they cannot take advantage of consumers during this festive shopping season. The Council is also cautioning consumers to take extra precaution during this festive season as all the shopping hype may distract them from being vigilant on key information such as expiry dates, misleading prices, misleading information and so forth. We are also calling on traders in Nausori, Nasinu and small towns not to exploit vulnerable consumers in these areas.

Our team had found a lot of problems in Nausori last week, particularly dirty shops, dented food cans, expired foods items, misleading promotions, misleading price displays and so forth.

The Council will be closely monitoring supermarkets and other traders as the festive and holiday season goes into full momentum.

Consumers should also play their part and read product labels and look around for better quality products before cashing on out-dated products. They should also be very careful of sales where prices drop significantly; they should check the products properly and seek more information if in doubt.

While, the Council will continue to conduct market surveillances to check on such unscrupulous dealings, it cannot be present in all shops around Fiji at the same time, thus, it is calling on the consumers to be the‘eyes and ears’ of the Council and report any unethical trade practices.