Companies trying to profiteer by fleecing consumers and struggling businesses during the Covid-19 crisis should be reported for market exploitation, says SDLP economy spokesperson, Sinead McLaughlin MLA.
She said: “I have received complaints that a small number of businesses, including some retailers and wholesalers, have exploited their market advantage during the coronavirus crisis to force other companies to sell them goods and produce at a loss. They have been able to do this because they know that for some suppliers, it is better to sell at a loss than not to make any sales at all.
“I urge companies to trade with ethics and principles during this exceptional emergency. If they force other businesses to trade at a loss, those suppliers may not be around when they need them in the future. To consumers I say, be prepared to ‘shop’ the bad shops that are ripping them off with sudden and large price increases. Exploitation by bullies has to be challenged, whatever the size of the business.”
The Competition and Markets Authority responded to a complaint forwarded by Ms McLaughlin. It has created a taskforce to investigate allegations of market exploitation during the crisis, which the CMA said will “warn firms suspected of exploiting these exceptional circumstances – and people’s vulnerability – through unjustified prices of misleading claims”. It added that it is willing to take enforcement action and advise the UK government on possible emergency legislation where there is evidence of unscrupulous behaviour by some businesses.
Complaints about unfair trading during the Covid-19 crisis can be made online at https://www.coronavirus-business-complaint.service.gov.uk/