Bus Company Extorts Consumers Hard-Earned Money

March 1, 2021

A bus company in Taveuni has drawn the ire of 300 consumers after levying charges on passenger luggage on daily commutes.

A complaint lodged with the Consumer Council of Fiji with 300 signatories expressed consumers’ dismay with the new and impromptu charges being thrust onto them for any carry-ons such as shopping bags, sacks or cartons. The charges have also drawn concern from the Council as consumers are now required to fork out more from their pockets for travel.

“Many consumers depend on public transportation as an affordable means of transport and this unethical imposition of charges has resulted as an extra burden on the consumers. The government has put in place regulated fares to ensure affordability for consumers and yet here we have a bus company preying on the vulnerability of consumers to fill their coffers,” said Consumer Council of Fiji CEO Ms. Seema Shandil.

For many of the commuters, buses are their only means of transport because it is what they can afford, and this strategy by the bus company is piling on a further cost to consumers who already have the responsibility of making ends meet during a pandemic. It’s unjust!” said Ms Shandil.

Council’s investigations revealed that charges by the bus drivers of the bus company in questions ranged from $1-$5. For transporting a single shopping bag in this particular company’s buses would be $1 and cost of cartons would be estimated from $3-5 per carton, while charges of sacks of produce or grog would be higher. Consumers claim there were no receipts issued for these charges.

“Receipts are mandatory in any business. That is the law. We cannot allow businesses to take advantage of consumers in this manner. There needs to be concrete guidelines to ensure that consumers are not further exploited,” she added.

Due to the severity of the impact such charges have on the daily livelihood of consumers, the Council has flagged this case to relevant agencies for enforcement action. If consumers come across any bus services providers engaging in similar practices, they are encouraged to lodge a complaint at the Council by calling our National Consumer Helpline toll-free number on 155 or via the Consumer Council of Fiji Mobile App, which can be downloaded on Google Play.