Inside Politics

How dishonest traders took advantage of virus to exploit consumers

Monday, May 31st, 2021 00:00 |
A resident of Kawangware estate is tested during a mass testing exercise. Photo/PD/John ochieng

PANDEMIC:  Kenyans consumer were hard hit following the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic with complaints increasing by 28 per cent during financial year 2019/20.

A new report shows that unscrupulous businesses took advantage of the Covid-19 crisis to exploit consumers.

In its annual report for the period, Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) investigated a total of 178 cases of consumer complaints and also attributed the increase to awareness.

Complaints in the manufacturing sector rose by eight per cent to 39 cases while those in the financial and insurance, transportation and storage, accommodation and food services sectors stood at 37, 12 and two consumer complaints respectively.

Increased awareness

“This is attributable to increased awareness about our mandate. The consumer cases we processed cut across sectors such as e-commerce, aviation, retail, construction, cosmetics, and hospitality, among others,” said CAK Director General, Francis Wang’ombe.

In terms of abuse of buyer power cases, insurance sector led accounting for 38 per cent followed by retail sector at 28 per cent while government procurement was third at 14 per cent. Thirty-two cases were investigated of which 18 were concluded. 

Delayed payment was the most prevalent complaint at 66 per cent followed by unilateral termination without notice or on short notice at 15 per cent.

The remainder of complaints were from the telecommunications, energy and agriculture sectors.

“During a crisis such as what the World is experiencing, businesses may get tempted to exploit consumers either through unjustifiable increases in prices or hoarding products in order to artificially create a surge in demand,” he added.

Similarly, CAK investigated forty 40 restrictive trade practices, 24 of which were finalised while the rest were at various stages of investigations at the close of the period under review.

Manufacturing market segment had the highest number of cases of restrictive trade practices at 30 per cent while the information and communications sector came second at 11 per cent.

The Authority attributed the increase in cases in the manufacturing sector to increased investigations based on market intelligence and that in the ICT sector to increased use of digital applications.                        

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