Businesses that inexplicably set unfair prices for essential items such as food or toilet paper in response to COVID-19 risk being publicly listed under a new initiative announced by Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson today.
Mr Anderson said this is a challenging time for everyone, and is made more difficult when people take advantage of a heightened feeling of anxiety in the community.
“It’s encouraging that so far, NSW businesses are largely doing the right thing and to date, we’ve seen very few examples of business trying to profit from the crisis,” Mr Anderson said.
“It’s best to shop with retailers and brands you know and trust to avoid being taken for a ride, but if you believe something has had an inexplicable price hike, then discuss it with the trader and if you are still dissatisfied, contact Fair Trading.”
Reports made to NSW Fair Trading will be investigated, and traders will be asked to justify any significant price increases on essential items.
“This ensures businesses have the right to respond to claims made against them, rather than face trial by social media, especially if there is a legitimate reason for the price increase,” Mr Anderson said.
If there is no known legitimate business reason for the increased price, a public warning can be issued under section 86A of the Fair Trading Act, which allows the Minister to warn the public about the conduct of a business.
Legitimate business reasons include increased transportation costs, increased staff costs, shortage of a particular good due to extenuating circumstances such as drought or price increases from the manufacturer or supplier.
“Issuing these warnings will help consumers make informed decisions about where to shop and will deter traders who may consider engaging in this conduct,” Mr Anderson said.
“This is a time to look after each other and ensure people can access the goods and services they need to stay safe and healthy.”
Complaints can be reported to NSW Fair Trading online or by calling 13 32 20.