During the month of April, the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) inspected a total of 244 establishments around Thimphu to check the compliance of Consumer Protection Rules and Regulations. The office also recorded 16 complaints from consumers across the country for that month.
Out of the 244 establishments, 139 business entities were found to have been complying. On the other hand, 59 business entities were rectified for unfair trade practices and 42 business entities were fined by the OCP. In collaboration with BAFRA, 42 shops selling expired products were fined amounting to Nu. 16,125. The expired products were flour (Atta and Maida), chips, biscuits, noodles and soft drinks, etc. The goods have been confiscated and handed over to BAFRA.
According to the Chief Program Officer of OCP, Jigme Dorji, the ongoing complaints that are yet to be resolved are non-delivery of goods by e-Commerce business entities despite making full payment, deficiency of service delivery, underweight and mislabeling of products, and supply of goods with wrong specifications.
The Chief also said, “Some of the unfair trade practices observed were businesses not abiding by their service terms and conditions, supply of defective products, sale of underweight products and sale of expired products. However, consumer complaints are increasing over time. We can attribute this to not only increase in the population and number of businesses, and therefore, business transactions, but also due to increasing consumer awareness about their rights as a result of our education and advocacy programs and the ease of lodging complaint to the OCP. The rate of complaints was higher during lockdowns mainly because of unethical price hikes by businesses taking advantage of limited supply and competition in the markets.”
OCP inspected 52 micro-traders, 49 retail shops, 19 restaurants/hotels, 1 fuel depot and 18 fruits and vegetable vendors within the Thimphu periphery in April.
Regarding repeated offences, Jigme Dorji said, “We have not come across business entities repeating offenses, despite our warnings. Rectifications include refund/repair for/ of defective goods for consumers; correction of weights and measures, ensuring delivery of the non-delivered goods/services or total refund and getting businesses to label products and display price tags.”
Of the 16 complaints received, 2 were about faulty products, 4 about service terms and conditions commitment failure, 7 complaints about miscellaneous unethical trade practices/misrepresentation etc, and 3 on price manipulation. The complaints lodged were against; 2 against e-commerce operator, 11 against wholesaler/retailer and 3 against service sector. 87 percent of the complaints were resolved while 13 percent are still ongoing.