Consumer complaints flood CCAA

CCAA completes surveillance in Tsirang and Dagana

The Consumer and Competition Affairs Authority (CCAA) recently conducted a market surveillance of 261 business entities in Tsirang and Dagana dzongkhags, penalizing defaulters and seizing expired products. The team covered Petroleum Retail Outlets (PRO), groceries, meat shops, garment and tailoring shops, hardware stores, as well as restaurants and hotels.

Across the 14 days duration, commencing on April 6, 2024, the CCAA primarily focused their inspection on compliance of firms to critical requirements stipulated in the Consumer Protection Act, 2012, and the Consumer Protection Rules and Regulations, 2015.

Of the 108 groceries and bakeries, 8% did not meet the minimum labeling requirements. โ€œThe problem of inadequate labeling is prevalent with locally made and re-packed products,โ€ the CCAA exclaimed.

It was found that 62% of the businesses provided pre-printed cash memos while 38% did not. Similarly, 51% of the businesses did not display selling price of goods while the rest did. Only 26% of the businesses had calibrated weighing machines.

The surveillance team came across 12 grocers in Dagana and 1 grocer in Tsirang displaying expired stocks, including biscuits, processed cheese and juice. The density of Motor Spirit (MS) and High-Speed Diesel (HSD) at all the four PROs were within permissible range (ยฑ3 kg/m3 ). Likewise, water content in the storage tanks were all within maximum acceptable limits (8 cm) at all PROs.

The volume of fuel dispensed at all PROs were within permissible range of 0.5%. The measuring jar at the PRO in Tsirang was due for calibration. However, fire extinguishers installed at the PRO did not have expiry dates reflected on the cylinders. All the PROs had calibrated weighing machines in place which are required for consumers to verify the LPG cylinders.

LPG stores/ outlets were found to be still in operation from the PRO premises and not from a separate location.

In light of the findings and assessments, the complete list of all business entities that required weights, measures, calibration, and recalibration was dispatched to Bhutan Standards Bureau (BSB) for support to calibrate.

Shops in Dagana and Tsirang Dzongkhags stocking expired were fined a total of Nu 4,673 and Nu 405 respectively. In addition, expired products were seized by the Bhutan Food and Drug Authority (BFDA).

The PRO at Tsirang was directed to maintain a valid calibrated 5L brass can in the outlet. The CCAA also directed all the PROs to rectify minor violations to be in full compliance with the SOP on Safe Handling and Storage of LPG, 2024.

It was also reflected that the Department of Trade (DOT) needs to be informed about the LPG outlets being operated from PRO premises in Tsirang and Dagana, and the need to separate them as per the SOP on Safe Handling and Storage of LPG, 2024.

Meanwhile, cement distributors in Phuentsholing and Thimphu were monitored to ensure rectification measures to improve business practices prescribed during past monitoring were being adhered to.

Furthermore, a total of nine consumer complaints were registered during April 2024 of which five have been successfully resolved while four are under investigation/ mediation. Two complaints pertained to breach of sales terms and conditions, two to delivery of sub-standard/ poor quality goods or services, five to other unethical business practices and the last one to suspected operation of a pyramid scheme/ ponzi scheme in the market.

From the complaints that were resolved, the CCAA facilitated refund of Nu 30,000 to aggrieved consumers and also collected fines amounting to Nu 1,027,200 for unethical business practices. For other cases that are yet to be resolved, investigation and mediation/ dispute settlement works are in progress.

By Tashi Namgyal, Thimphu