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CASHING IN ON COVID-19

Cleanshelf Supermarket ordered to refund customers for overpriced sanitisers

CAK found out that the retailer sold the product at varying amounts of up to Sh1,000.

In Summary
  • On Friday, CAK issued a statement, warning retailers against taking advantage of coronavirus to hoard goods or hike prices.
  • The Authority ordered Cleanshelf to contact and refund all the consumers who purchased the 960 pieces of the Tropical brand hand sanitisers above the usual selling price and submit evidence to support the same by March 26.
A Cleanshelf store.
A Cleanshelf store.
Image: COURTESY

The Competition Authority of Kenya has ordered Cleanshelf Supermarkets to refund all customers for overpriced hand sanitisers.

The competition watchdog issued the remedial order after investigations found out that the retailer unconscionably adjusted prices of Tropical brand hand sanitisers (500ml) in contravention of the Competition Act No.12 of 2010.

"Pursuant to the Authority’s investigations under Section 70A of the Act, the Authority established that the retailer has been unconscionably adjusting the prices of Tropical brand hand sanitisers in contravention of section 56 (1) of the Act,’’ CAK said in a statement.

 
 
 
 

The law stipulates that which: it shall be an offense for a person in trade in connection with the supply or possible supply of goods or services to another person, to engage in conduct that is, in all the circumstances, unconscionable.

Cleanshelf Supermarkets normally retails the specific hand sanitisers at Sh800.

However, the Authority has determined that the retailer on March 15, 2020, sold the same batch of product to consumers at varying amounts of up to Sh1,000, with the prices increasing within hours.

''The retailer, therefore, exploited its relative strength as a retailer to commercially detriment consumers whose bargaining position has been diminished following the pronouncement of the existence of COVID-19 in Kenya,’’ CAK said.

The Authority has therefore ordered Cleanshelf to contact and refund all the consumers who purchased the 960 pieces of the Tropical brand hand sanitisers above the usual selling price and submit evidence to support the same by March 26.

However, the retailer blamed one of its staff members for the 'error'.

"It has come to our attention that one of our staff members without consultation and irresponsibly severally adjusted the price of hand sanitizers in our Ruaka branch," a statement from the management said.

"This was an individual error, and the management of Cleanshelf wholly and unreservedly apologizes to all our customers."

The retailer said any customer overcharged for the product should go back to the branch for a full refund of the sanitizer money.

"Disciplinary action has already been taken on the staff member," the statement added.

On Friday, CAK issued a statement, warning retailers against taking advantage of coronavirus to hoard goods or hike prices.

We warn retailers that such conduct is a contravention of section 21 (1) of the Competition Act together with section 21 (3) (a) of the Act and will attract a penalty of up to 10 per cent of the respective turnover of the manufacturers and retailers in question, pursuant to section 36 (d) of the Act,'' the watchdog said in a statement.


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