Gas cylinder seals

January 14, 2019

Thousands of Fijian households rely on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for domestic cooking on a daily basis for economic reasons. 

LPG, propane and butane or simply cooking gas is a flammable mixture of hydrocarbon gases used as a fuel in heating appliances, cooking stoves and cars. 

Consumers here keep close tabs on LPG price fluctuations every now and then as gas prices are significantly impacted by the increase in the international butane prices. Keeping tabs on prices also helps them to better budget for domestic gas consumption. 

With the 4.5kg, 12kg and 13kg gas cylinders being widely used and purchased in Fiji for domestic use, the Consumer Council of Fiji is urging consumers to be aware of and exercise their rights and responsibilities when buying the product. 

The Council has received 66 complaints about gas prices and cylinders in the past five years amounting to around $2000.

The nature of complaints ranged from traders selling gas cylinders above the price control order, damaged or defective cylinders, leakage, traders hoarding gas to sell only after price increase comes into effect, not providing receipts to consumers and depriving them of choice. This, as traders ask them to buy items worth a certain amount in order to purchase gas cylinders. 

Recent complaints received by the Council also highlighted issues with broken or tampered with gas cylinder seals. 

A consumer from Nadawa, Nasinu bought a 12kg Fiji Gas cylinder at a store and discovered that all the cylinders on sale had no seals. The trader had used cello tape to seal the cylinders. He informed the Council about this upon which a trader visit was conducted.

When the Council visited the shop, the trader had replaced all gas cylinders without seals and was selling the ones with seals attached.

Another consumer from Davuilevu Housing sought the Council’s assistance in seeking redress for the purchase of a 4.5kg cylinder which lasted him only three days. The consumer lodged an official complaint with Blue Gas that promised to look into the matter. However, this was not done and the consumer sought the Council’s assistance.

The consumer was first advised to only buy sealed cylinders. If the cylinder is not sealed, the consumer has the right to get change or get a replacement cylinder.

Furthermore, upon the Council’s intervention and trader visit, it was noted that the seals for all the 4.5kg and 12kg gas cylinders were intact. The trader also replaced the gas cylinder with a new refilled one to provide redress.

The Council also warned both the traders to ensure that before releasing the refilled gas cylinders to consumers after they are paid for, all seals or safety caps must be fully intact. If the seal is broken, it is an indication that the cylinder might have been used before being sold to consumers or there might be defects in the cylinder. This will lead to consumers losing out and not getting what they paid for.  

Consumers may check whether the sealing ring is in place inside the cylinder valve by feeling the same with their fingers. They are advised not to use the cylinder if the ring is missing, and put back the safety cap and contact the trader or distributor for a replacement.

Security and quantity are two major qualities a consumer should look out for when buying cooking gas. It is important for consumers to buy refilled cylinders from certified retailers and traders only. The cylinder must be of approved quality and standard which is inspected for quality and safety.

In addition, with LPG gas under price control since August 2012 to make it more affordable for consumers the Council is urging traders to abide by the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC Act 2010 and FCCC (Control of Prices for Supply of LPG in Fiji) Order 2018.

Under the current regulatory framework, FCCC issues quarterly price restatements in view of price fluctuations in the world market price.

The Commission also fixes and declares the prices throughout the Fijian economy into four (4) schedules for LPG depending on the geographical spread of urban and rural areas.

The prices set out in the schedule are the maximum retail and wholesale prices, as the case may be, at which the goods mentioned therein may be sold in the area as specified in the schedule.

Traders must adhere to the national laws and refrain from engaging in illegal market practices. On the other hand, consumers need to be vigilant when buying gas cylinders.

Consumers are encouraged to alert the Council by contacting its toll free National Consumer Helpline number 155 or email for any complaints or advise.