Chhimi Dema 

The Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) has penalised 33 shops for violating provisions of the consumer protection Act, rules and regulations since the second lockdown.

Four shops have been closed and are not allowed to operate during the lockdown. The licence of two vegetable wholesalers has been recommended for cancellation.

OCP’s chief programme officer, Jigme Dorji, said that the businesses were penalised for an unfair increase in the price of commodities, sale of expired products, underweight goods and other violations.

Chapter III of the Consumer Protection Act 2012 states: “A person shall not mislead the consumers on the price of the goods and services.”

Also, according to the Consumer Protection Rules and Regulations 2015, a service provider, manufacturer and supplier of goods or services shall not unfairly; charge different price; supply different quality; or deny services to the consumers.

Since the first positive case of Covid-19 in the country, OCP imposed Nu 2.313 million as penalties and Nu 0.295 million was refunded to aggrieved consumers.

Jigme Dorji said that the business entities were informed not to take advantage of the situation through various channels of communication such as phone calls, official notification, media and visits to business premises.

“The office will not tolerate any kind of unfair trade practices and stern action will be taken including penalties, closure of shops and cancellation of business licence if necessary,” Jigme Dorji said.

Most of the shop penalised were located in Thimphu.

To ensure fair trade practices, Jigme Dorji said that OCP made surprise inspections. Officials also monitor various social media pages where consumers complaint through their post, he added.

Jigme Dorji said: “OCP ascertains the genuineness of the post and takes appropriate action.”

Due to the lack of manpower, OCP carried out market monitoring activities with the support of local governments.

Jigme Dorji said that about 900 officials from the local governments under direct supervision and guidance of OCP vigorously carried out market monitoring activities in their respective regions.

Consumers are urged to report to OCP through a toll-free number 1214 for any unfair trade practices and to seek redresses or compensations. The consumers are also requested to take due care while purchasing, ask for money receipt, make informed purchase decisions and act in good faith.