Breach of service terms and conditions and the sale of defective products top the list
The Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (CCAA) under the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Employment received a total of 11 consumer complaints or disputes in April 2023, which is a reduction by three from the previous month of March, according to the report of the Market Monitoring, Consumer Protection, and Unfair Trade Statistics for April, 2023.
According to the report, it shows that among these, six complaints were successfully resolved, while five are currently under mediation or investigation.
Of the 11 complaints received by the CCAA, two were general complaints. The rest of the nine complaints were individual complaints wherein a consumer feels aggrieved and seek damages from the business.
Similar to the month of March, the majority of complaints received in the march of April were also related to breaches of service terms and conditions and the sale of defective products, making 36.4% of the complaints. 27.27% of complaints received were for detective products followed by 18.18% related to other types of unethical business practices and misrepresentation of prices by businesses.
According to the CCAA, “general complaints” refer to any unfair or unethical trade practices by a business entity in a market that affect all consumers, which are reported to the CCAA for action, do not involve personal loss, or are for personal compensation.
Based on the complaints, the CCAA redressed consumer grievances by facilitating refunds, repairs, rectification of wrong business practices, providing advice to entities, or referring complaints to relevant regulatory agencies, if required.
During the month, the office facilitated a refund of Nu 55,000 to aggrieved consumers.
According to the report, the CCAA also conducted market surveillance in Trongsa and Mongar covering a total of 71 businesses in Trongsa and 111 businesses in Bumthang.
It shows that 59.3% of business entities have pre-printed receipts that are provided upon the consumers’ request and 67.3% do not meet minimum product labeling requirements of the 102 grocery shops and 2 bakeries.
The report also shows that 35.9% of the business entities are using calibrated weighing balances and measuring devices.
Only 35.7% display prices, five were selling spare parts without a valid business license, stocking and selling goods past their expiration date, and adulteration in fuel A retail outlet based at Dangdung, Trongsa, was found to be dispensing less HSD.
The report also shows that LPG cylinders were not stored in accordance with the standard operating procedures (SoPs) on Safe Handling and Storage of LPG 2022.
84 expired LPG cylinders were found in Dangdung LPG Depot, and 7 sawmills were not in compliance with the NRPC rate. Sawmills were burning sawdust and off-cuts openly, which is risky detrimental to the environment.
Based on the finding, the CCAA will ask the Bhutan Standard Bureau (BSB) to calibrate weighing devices of all businesses using invalid devices.
The Regional Office of Economic Affair (RoEA), Trongsa will be asked to take appropriate action against businesses operating without a valid business license.
All expired products were detained in coordination with Bhutan Food and Drug Authority (BFDA), and a total of Nu.13,076 was imposed as fines on 16 violators in Trongsa district and Nu 16,941 from 28 violators in Bumthang district.
A thorough investigation will also be conducted on the non-compliant sawmills by CCAA jointly with the Department of Forestry & Park Services (DOFPS) for appropriate action.
It has also directed the RoEA, Trongsa to take administrative actions against LPG Depot, Dangdung for failure to comply with the SOP on Safe Handling and Storage of LPG, 2022
RoEA, Trongsa has also been asked to further investigate the issue of inaccurate dispensation of HSD despite earlier observation by BSB.
Moreover, the report shows the Department of Environment & Climate Change (DECC) and/or DoFPS, MoENR on the observation of sawmill practice of burning sawdust and off-cuts.
With the assistance of the RoEA, Trongsa, BFDA, and DoFPS office based at Bumthang, the major markets in the Trongsa and Bumthang districts were scrutinized over a period of 12 days beginning April 6, 2023. The main goals of the inspection were to ensure that business entities are adhering to the market regulatory standards set forth in the CPA, 2012, and CPRR, 2015, as well as to advance fair trade practices in the marketplace.
Meanwhile, any consumer who feels wronged by a business entity or if one happens to come across illegal business practices in the market that unduly affects consumers in general should report to the CCAA by either calling 1214 (Toll Free) or submitting an online complaint via www.ocp.gov.bt or by visiting the office during working hours.
Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu