Coronavirus: Watchdog seeks emergency powers to curb price rises – BBC News

Hand sanitiser

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Studies of price-gouging have concerned lots of of companies, the CMA says

The UK’s shopper watchdog has requested the federal government to usher in emergency legal guidelines to cease retailers profiteering in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Competitors and Markets Authority stated it had written to “lots of of companies” charging inflated costs for merchandise resembling hand sanitisers.

The CMA stated “emergency time-limited laws” would give it a greater likelihood of coping with the issue.

In any other case, it might use current powers “to the utmost potential extent”.

Each the CMA and Buying and selling Requirements say they’ve acquired a excessive quantity of complaints about price-gouging in the course of the pandemic.

The CMA has launched a taskforce to crack down on companies which may be partaking in price-gouging and to think about whether or not there have been any breaches of competitors or shopper legal guidelines.

In line with the Monetary Occasions, which first reported the story, the CMA acquired greater than 20,000 coronavirus-related complaints between 10 March and 19 April.

On common, the costs complained about had gone up by 130%. Within the case of hand sanitisers, costs had risen by a mean of 367%.

“Our Covid-19 taskforce continues to scrutinise reviews of probably dangerous gross sales practices, together with inflated worth rises,” the CMA stated in a press release. “The overwhelming majority of companies are doing the precise factor, however the place there’s proof that corporations could have damaged the regulation, we’ll be utilizing our current powers to the utmost potential extent.

The CMA stated it had already written to lots of of companies asking them to clarify their inflated costs. “What we discover out will assist us resolve whether or not and the place we will take additional motion,” the organisation stated.

It added: “Together with our current powers, now we have additionally suggested the federal government on choices for emergency time-limited laws that would give a greater likelihood of coping with the sort of downside.”

A spokesperson from the Division for Enterprise stated “the overwhelming majority of companies” have been appearing responsibly in the course of the pandemic, including that reviews of profiteering to the CMA had fallen.

“The CMA offers instantly with corporations to handle any complaints and we proceed to maintain the problem below overview,” the spokesperson stated.

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