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February 20, 2019

Consumers wary of misleading product prices, quality - report

Competition Authority of Kenya director general Kariuki Wang’ombe before the Committee on Information, Communication and Innovation on August 7 /JACK OWUOR
Competition Authority of Kenya director general Kariuki Wang’ombe before the Committee on Information, Communication and Innovation on August 7 /JACK OWUOR

Most Prices on product and service from the retail, communication and banking sectors are false and misleading, latest report from the Competition Authority shows.

The authority in its annual report has noted that upto 60 per cent of consumer complaints come from the three sectors.

During the 2016/2017 review period, the authority handled 66 consumer complaints of which 50 per cent were concluded.

Alongside false and misleading representation on price, the authority listed that quality of products , existence of warranty and promotions for subscription on Pay Tv services are misleading.

Other sectors facing a challenge in consumer complaints include Transport, manufacturing, Insurance, Electronics, Water, Financial,and Energy.

Among the complaints is a move by telecoms to bill ones airtime for accessing internet services despite the subscriber having data bundles.

Supermarkets have also been put on the spot for misleading consumers by having their labels on refrigerators volume capacity in cubic feet instead of litres.

Retail and manufacturing sector players were also found culpable of selling appliances that are defective such as a gas cooker that can not be controlled or a water tank that burst within a few days of use.

According to the authority investigations, most cases emanate from financial services or payments made through the mobile phone technology.

The services include mobile phone loans,person to person transfers, bill and merchant payments. The authority also found out that there are hidden charges when a person carries out balance enquiry of their bank account. Airtime and mobile money top-up were also listed among services with no transparency.

The authority's director general Wangombe Kariuki says in the report that atleast 40 per cent of service providers in the top three sectors have not adhered to provisions of inflight charges during transactions.

“The delay has been occasioned by the different technological platforms they employ,” Kariuki said.

In a move to mitigate the cases, the banking sector announced last week that complaints will be resolved within seven working days once new regulations come into effect next month.

According to the Kenya Banking Sector Charter 2018, the institutions are expected to acknowledge the complaints within 48 hours.

Kenyan manufacturers have also turned to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa , for support in battling illicit trade in the region.

This comes in the wake of substandard goods and tonnes of counterfeit products such as sugar, rice, cooking oils, kitchen appliances flooding the Kenyan market.

Through the Kenya Association of manufactures, the industrialist want COMESA to consider establishing an institution to deal with counterfeits and dumping in the regional market.

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