Thursday 28 May, 2020

Coronavirus: How to file a complaint about price gouging?

iStock photo

iStock photo

As if fears over the dreaded COVID-19 weren't enough, Jamaicans have also had to grapple with price gougers seeking to capitalise on increased demand for items like bottled water, hand sanitiser, and food supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak.

However, the government has moved to tackle the problem with the recent passing of the Trade (Sale of Goods During Period of Declaration of Disaster Area) Order 2020, which will penalise vendors found to be charging consumers excessive prices for goods during the COVID-19 crisis.

Under the Order, businesses are not permitted to sell goods at a price higher than what was charged immediately before the Disaster Risk Management (Declaration of Disaster Area) Order, 2020, became effective on March 18, unless the price is attributable solely to the cost to the business for obtaining the particular goods. A person or business found to be in breach of the order could be fined up to $2 million or sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.

Covered are any items used or intended for use as food or drink; personal care items such as soap, cleaning products, antibacterial products, toiletries, alcohol, hand sanitiser, bleach, and gloves; and medical supplies, including surgical masks and prescription and non-prescription medication. 

File complaints with the CAC

The government has urged persons to file price gouging complaints with the Consumer Affairs Commission, the agency established to inform, educate and empower consumers on protecting themselves in the marketplace.

Individuals who would like to file a complaint to the CAC, may do so by sending an email along with a copy of their receipts to info@cac.gov.jm or call the head office at toll free 1-888-991-4470 or 876-906-5425.

Persons may also visit any of the CAC offices located at 34 Trafalgar Road, Kingston 10; 30 Market Street, Montego Bay, St James or the RADA Office, 28 Caledonia Road, Mandeville, Manchester.

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