Lack of awareness among consumers has led to most of them not knowing their rights and responsibilities when purchasing commodities.
As a result many end up buying similar items at huge prices differentials in shops.
The Guardian conducted a survey in some shops and malls in Dar es Salaam after being alerted by a watchful consumer and found a similar item attracting more than three times the price in the other shops.
The consumer said she bought a lotion in three different shops and discovered that while in two shops the product was sold at 8,500/- a bottle, in another shop in the same area, the item was being sold at 31,800/-.
“The government should intervene because such shops exploit customers,” she said.
Reached for comment, Fair Competition Commission (FCC) said that such shops were not breaking the law and that it was up to the consumer to choose where to shop. Price differentials in shops were a normal occurrence.
The FCC senior Communication and Public Relations Officer Frank Mdimi said only education to consumers which was among universal rights will empower them to make informed choices in such cases.
“With good information about the variety of goods and services sold in the market a consumer will be in a position to make informed choices,” said Mdimi, adding: “Price variation between markets is quite normal because one should not expect a shop containing goods coming from abroad and another selling goods from within the country to display the same price.”
He stressed that customers were not forced to purchase products from any market.
Mdimi said that the Fair Competition Act of 2003, allowed sellers to set different prices of goods depending on various factors such as transport, tax, rent fee and materials used in manufacturing the product.
Thus sellers have the right compete as long as their goods meet the required standards and are not counterfeits.
The general manager of Shoppers Plaza, one of the shops which attracted the complaint from the consumer, Mahesh Venkatesh however clarified that the price confusion on the product was due to a tagging error on the product.
Venkatesh explained that a bottle of palmer’s lotion was incorrectly labeled as being sold at 31,800/- while the item was actually being sold at 8,000/- and that it did not vary much from other shops.
“The one who complained is our very long time customer. We have already apologised for the error and promised to refund her the money though she has not yet accepted it,” Venkatesh stressed.
He stressed that the supermarket highly valued its customers and would do everything to satisfy their needs.