OCP clamps down on unethical businesses

STAFF REPORTER | Thimphu 

Since the start of monitoring activities in Thimphu Thromde during the lockdown, the frontline teams of the Office of the Consumer Protection (OCP) with the Ministry of Economic Affairs, had inspected an average of 65 business entities on a daily basis.

The response team covered various markets and different types of business to ensure fair trade practices by business entities allowed to operate.

According to the OCP, since the start of lockdown on 16 January, 1,104 business entities in Thimphu Thromde were inspected including some repeat visits. The businesses include fruit and vegetable shops, wholesalers, grocery shops, meat shops, LPG delivery agents, BOD, and medical shops.

From the start of the recent lockdown until 10 February, 96 consumer complaints have been received through various channels, from which all genuine complaints have been redressed. 

As of 10 February this week, 43 business entities have been imposed penalties amounting to more than Nu 200,000 for various types of trade violations.

The official from the OCP said that the Office in consultation with Thimphu Thromde, closed and disallowed a farm shop and vegetable shop in Thimphu Throm to operate during the lockdown as these business entities repeatedly failed to comply with prescribed rates of vegetables despite warnings and imposing penalties.

Meanwhile, the Dzongkhag Administration of Chukha, Bumthang, Dagana, Gasa, Haa, Lhuentse, Paro, Punakha, Pema Gatshel, Samtse, Sarpang, Samdrup Jongkhar, Thimphu, Trashiyangtse, Trongsa, Trashigang, Wangdue Phodrang, and Zhemgang have activated their market surveillance and monitoring team (MMST) to carry out market monitoring activities in their respective regions.

According to the notification from the OCP, toll-free number 1214 is operational 24X7 to take consumer complaints and provide relevant information and all consumer complaints are investigated at the soonest possible and necessary actions taken.

“Do not hike prices unnecessarily and maintain prices that were prevalent prior to lockdown or prices that are fixed by the government. Do not tamper measuring weights and other measuring devices, display selling prices legibly and prominently and issue money receipts for any goods products valued above Nu 100, if and when demanded by buyers,” warns the notification.

The notification also states and requests all business entities not to sell expired, spoiled, or faulty products at any point of time.

Further, the general public is requested to be aware of the prices of goods which include fruits and vegetables, LPG, and petroleum products which are fixed by the government.

For other products or services where prices are not fixed, the notification states that one should know what a reasonable price is for that product or service prior to purchase. 

“If you feel the prices are exorbitantly high as compared to other times or to other business entities, report to the OCP and always check the quality of the product and the integrity of the package and date of expiry prior to making a purchase,” it states.

The notification further adds that consumers must insist on receipts, particularly if an individual is making a purchase of a reasonably high value. “If you feel cheated by a business, you should reach out to your Dzongkhag MMTS or the OCP.”

Meanwhile, the OCP is committed to protecting all consumers from unethical business practices in the country. “Help us by informing us if you face or notice any unethical or illegal business practices and we will try to address it at the soonest possible,” adds the notification.