Online Businesses Should Not Hide Behind ‘Technical Glitch’ Excuse

February 12, 2021

Online businesses must sell products at advertised prices as they are also subjected to the relevant consumer protection laws applicable to other mediums of sale. This has been stressed by the Consumer Council of Fiji after receiving complaints of misleading and deceptive tactics being employed by local online businesses.

In one such complaint lodged at the Council, a consumer saw a phone advertised at $299 on a company’s online store and was surprised when she saw the price of the phone spiked to $479 prior to finalizing her purchase. Upon raising this issue with the trader, she was informed that the cart price reflected the correct price and that the initial advertised price was no longer applicable. The trader labelled this as a ‘technical glitch’.

Council Chief Executive Officer Ms. Seema Shandil has called on such businesses not to hide behind excuses such as technical glitches and walk their talk by charging consumers prices which they advertise initially.

“This is a poor excuse on the part of the trader. Businesses are mandated by consumer protection laws not to mislead consumers and in instances such as the one highlighted above, they should provide the product at the originally advertised price as the consumer was of the understanding that the initially stated price was the actual product price hence, proceeded to the final stages to confirm her purchase,” Ms Shandil said.

In this case, the initial price advertised was misleading, hence a clear violation of Section 78 of the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission Act 2010. The only reason the item was added to the cart was because the consumer was lured by the low price of the mobile phone

“If businesses have an online store, they must ensure that the correct price along with all relevant charges are clearly displayed for a consumer to make an informed choice. Anything short of this is clear violation of the law and the consumer’s right to be informed,” she added.

Consumers with online shopping concerns are urged to contact the Council on toll free number 155 or email complaints@consumersfiji.org. Alternatively, they can lodge a complaint via the Consumer Council of Fiji Mobile App, now available for download on Google Play Store.


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