The Voice of Fijian Consumers

September 24, 2021

This special edition by the Consumer Council of Fiji highlights the common queries which are raised by consumers and advise given to them. This is in line with the Council’s efforts to foster solidarity and create confidence in consumers to freely raise issues with the Council.

Being in operation for over 44 years, the Consumer Council of Fiji (CCoF) has become a household name and is widely perceived as the principal agency on consumer rights and interests in Fiji. The core functions of the CCoF includes consumer rights advocacy, mediation, policy recommendation, advisory and information. One of its main daily functions is to provide advise to consumers on a wide range of consumer issues. The dedicated team of complaints officers continuously strives to provide the best advise and guidance to Fijian consumers.

Currently, despite the challenges brought about by the second wave of COVID-19, the CCoF’s efforts did not dwindle in meeting our objective of providing consumer advisories. Although the Council is not meeting consumers in the traditional face to face mode, hundreds of consumers have reached out to the CCoF since the beginning of this second wave of COVID-19 through other means. These include the national toll-free consumer helpline 155, Consumer Council of Fiji mobile app, social media such as Facebook, twitter and Instagram, phone calls and through emails. So, let’s look at some of the questions Fijian consumers have asked CCoF.

1. Dear CCoF,

I purchased a bag of cement for $11.50 in early April 2021. I was advised that they did not have enough in stock thus, delivery was scheduled at the end of April. Unfortunately, the delivery was delayed due to the lockdown. When the trader opened up for business in June, I was told that the cement is in stock however, I now have to pay an extra $4.00 for each bag of cement purchased as the price has gone up. Can the trader charge me extra although I have already – paid for the cement in April?

Dear Chalie,

No, the trader cannot charge you extra for the bag of cement as the transaction already took place and only the delivery was pending. It is illegal and unethical for traders to charge extra for goods or services that have already been paid for. If the trader fails to supply the cement/any other products at the initial price, please report the matter to the Council on our toll – free line 155

2. Dear CCoF,

I went to a supermarket in Nausori to do my weekly shopping. However, I was denied entry into the supermarket as I was not wearing a facemask. Can supermarkets do this?

Dear Jone,

Please note that all Fijians are legally mandated to wear proper facemasks while out in public; including going to stores such as supermarkets. Please be a responsible consumer and wear a facemask to protect yourself and those around you.

3. Dear CCoF,

I have been planning to do some renovation works in my home therefore, decided to do comparative shopping for hardware materials. I was provided with a quotation by a hardware store in Lautoka amounting to $535.00 in April which was the cheapest. However, I was not able to purchase the items due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After the business re-opened in June, I went to purchase these products as per my initial quotation. I was surprised when the trader told me that the prices of the same products have changed even though I had a quotation. Should the business provide the items to me at the price initially quoted.

Dear Nirupa,

Most quotations have a validity period. Your quotation had a validity period of one month which has surpassed. Therefore, the business is not legally obligated to honour the quote. Please read the terms and conditions of any policies, quotes and agreements being provided by businesses.

4. Dear CCoF,

I have been having a toothache for some time and needed to get my tooth extracted. I visited a private dental clinic in Suva and was astounded to find out that the Dentist will only do the extraction after I provide my COVID-19 swab test result. Can the Dentist demand for a swab test?

Dear Sumeet,

The clinic in question, like many other businesses, have implemented strict COVID-19 safety measures in order to protect themselves and other consumers. At times, these protocols may vary from business to business. As such, private dental clinics can ask for a COVID-19 swab test result due to the nature of the business.

5. Dear CCoF,

I want to limit my movement hence; I am interested in ordering groceries using online shopping platforms. Can I demand that the groceries to be delivered on the same day I have placed the order?

Dear Waisele,

Before placing any orders via online platform, do enquire with the respective businesses regarding the delivery timelines. Businesses have the responsibility to inform the estimated delivery date and time however, this may not be on the same day you place your orders due to logistics, influx in orders and other factors. Hence obtain all information beforehand to make an informed decision – consumer responsibility.

6. Dear CCoF,

A lot of restaurants are now using Facebook to advertise meals and receive orders. Can these restaurants charge delivery fee if I opt to order from their Facebook page?

Dear Aluesi,

Charges for home delivery is at the discretion of these businesses. However, prior disclosures of all such charges should be included in the same advertisement.

7. Dear CCoF,

I went to withdraw my $50 government assistance and was informed by the M Paisa agent that a $5 (over the counter) withdrawal fee would be applicable. Can the trader charge me $5 because we are already going through tough times and charging $5 to withdraw only $50 seems unfair?

Dear Navneet,

No, the agent cannot charge you $5 to withdraw your $50 government assistance. The Fijian Government is already depositing an extra $2 to cover for the withdrawal fee, hence no over the counter fees in cash should be paid to any agents. If the agent insists on charging $5 for the $50 withdrawal, please lodge a complaint with us.

All Fijian consumers are encouraged to raise any consumer queries or complaints with the Council using the toll-free number 155 or via the Consumer Council of Fiji mobile app. Let us help you!