Consumer complaints over arbitrary price hikes and other manipulative conducts against products and service consumers now have a dedicated platform for redress, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has said.
The Commission said on Wednesday that its current operational priorities remain to address key competition and consumer protection issues related to and arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
On consumer protection, the Commission identified the most prevalent consumer complaints to include failed electronic banking transactions and associated delays in restoration, reconciliation or resolution; slow speed/throttling of internet connectivity/speed as well arbitrary and inexplicable charges for data by telecommunication companies.
The other complaints include restricted access or delayed signal release after payment for payTV services; continuing irrational and excessive increases in prices of certain medical devices (infrared thermometers).
They also include arbitrary price hike on basic relevant hygiene products (Sanitizers, Facemasks) and certain medications (Chloroquine and Vitamin C), and food items; continuing insufficient supply of electricity and arbitrary billing.
The FCCPC Chief Executive Officer, Babatune Irukera, noted that some suppliers and retailers have demonstrated circumspection in compliance with the agency’s enforcement directives and updates on these issues.
However, he said there were yet others who have continued to unduly exploit the current restriction to their advantage, by carrying out unfair and unreasonable price increase prices on various products and services during this period.
He said the Commission was already pursuing criminal charges against some of the companies, particularly the flagrant or repeat violators.
Besides, he said the Commission was expanding its investigations into other players and industries found to have indulged in similar malpractices.
The Commission restates its determination (including retrospectively after the pandemic) to hold violators to the appropriate weight of the law.
Recently, the Commission said it was getting set to prosecute four supermarkets and their proprietors in Abuja for alleged arbitrary hike of prices of sanitizers, hand-wash liquids, disinfectants and other anti-bacterial hygiene products.
To further its special COVID-19 focus and response, Mr Irukera said the Commission has created a dedicated platform for the pandemic related complaints.
“The Commission is operating with limited capacity to address the mirage of complaints and recognizes that many industry players are experiencing similar limitations.
“But, we will still encourage producers and providers to prioritize compliance with consumer protection laws and responsiveness to their customers,” he said.
He said the COVID-19 related complaints and or feedback, may be filed at the dedicated COVID-19 complaint portal: https://covid19.fccpc.gov.ng or via calls – 07086159973.
He said other COVID-19 related violations, such as scams and misleading advertisements about vaccines, therapies or cures for COVID-19 should also be addressed to the dedicated portal and would be met with stiff penalties.
The FCCPC boss said the Commission would continue to provide further guidance on its operations and how stakeholders can engage the Commission or conduct their business with the Commission during this period.
The Commission again advised consumers to avoid large gatherings, including markets/stores to make needless or non-essential purchases, and to practice the strongest discipline in staying at home and enforcing social distancing measures.
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