Overcharging on third country imports

Despite of Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) imposing penalties on business entities, they are still charging higher prices. The consumers have been experiencing frequent price hike on the commodities.

Consumers have questioned if there are ways to monitor goods that are being imported from a third countries like Thailand, China etc as the commodities don’t come with a price tag. They can charge as much as they want, consumers shared.

Imported items from third countries comes mostly a without the price tag whereby the business operator sells that product in market including all the taxes, insurance and transportation/ shipping charge plus keeping a certain percentage as profit.

Consumers complain that the problem is in the huge margins kept by those selling the items. They say while business people have a right to earn profit, but often the profit margin is several times the actual price of the product on everything from toys to clothes.

To this Jigme Dorji, Chief Program officer said, “One of the key factors driving up the cost of imported goods from the third countries is buying a product based on how much the businessman claims it should cost.”

“It is apparent that the market price of that product will decrease if consumers choose not to purchase expensive products. Customers are completely free to decide whether or not to purchase,” he added.

Due to vast majority of business operation in the country its really challenging for OCP to monitor all the items sold in the market, he said, adding that there is an explosion of e-commerce business using the free social media platform.

It was learnt that using social media poses risk for consumers in terms of deception and swindling. However, the OCP does not have the tools and means to detect and stop fraudsters. HR inadequacy and lack of presence in the region/ Dzongkhags affect regular proactive monitoring and inspection and frequent price collection of essential commodities.

He further said that there are lots of online platform from where people can avail the same products at a cheaper rate. Consumers have choice and many of them are unaware of that.

During the fiscal year 2021-22, a total of 200 consumer complaints were lodged to OCP and a total of 1,902 business entities across the country were inspected. In total, Nu 243, 209 were imposed as fines from 40 business entities; while a total of Nu 1,957,176 was refunded to aggrieved consumers from as many as 39 business entities.

The OCP has made it easier for consumers to lodge complaints by increasing the number of channels through which to lodge a complaint.

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