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Retailers urged to be responsible over pricing

Published on Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Image: a shopping trolley

RETAILERS are being urged to act responsibly during the coronavirus outbreak by not charging vastly inflated prices.

Leicester City Council’s Trading Standards team has received a high number of complaints about sudden price rises. However, the team is advising consumers to report any complaints directly to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The CMA is the correct body for dealing with such complaints, and has set up a dedicated email address for people to report to - covid.monitoring@cma.gov.uk

At present, there is no direct legislation that regulates the price of goods. But the CMA will consider any evidence that companies may have broken competition or consumer protection law by charging excessive prices or making misleading claims – for example, about the efficacy of protective equipment.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Piara Singh Clair, who is responsible for regulatory services in Leicester, said: “It’s natural that people turn to our Trading Standards team when they want to report poor practice or possible law-breaking in this area – but the correct body is actually the Competition and Markets Authority.

“It’s very disappointing that a small number of businesses should choose to act in this way and capitalise on the current situation. The vast majority of companies are, thankfully, behaving responsibly, with many going out of their way to help consumers. I’m sure people will long remember the businesses – particularly local businesses – which have helped them at this difficult time.

“If you are buying something in the current climate, it’s wise to check carefully details like returns policy and delivery times. And think very carefully about what you are prepared to pay. Panic-buying can benefit unscrupulous firms.”

Ron Ruddock, trading standards manager at Leicester City Council, said: “We would urge customers, wherever possible, to report these practices to the Competition and Markets Authority and to avoid using those businesses that are taking advantage of their customers.”

To report a business of unfair trading practices, use the email address listed above, call the CMA on 020 3738 6000 or visit www.gov.uk/government/collections/cma-covid-19-response

You can also contact the Citizens’ Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133.

Businesses seeking advice should visit www.businesscompanion.info

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