Thursday, September 19, 2019
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Unfair Trading Practices

Alleged unconscionable conduct by Blantyre Water Board

The Commission ordered Blantyre Water Board to refund all their consumers for the excess billing incurred in the months of August and September 2017. This followed an investigation by the Commission ensuing from a complaint by Patrick Kalimbuka which showed that Blantyre Water Board had raised water tariffs without informing the consumers. The increases were on meter rental from MK582.50 to MK1165.00 representing 100% increase; meter reading charge from MK349.50 to MK932.00 representing 167% increase Tariff bands have also been raised from MK1909.25 to MK2195.64 representing 15% increase.

Additionally, the investigation showed that following the Commission’s intervention, BWB reversed the increased tariffs. The Commission's analysis of utility bills for water accounts supplied by the Complainant showed that the revised tariffs were in force for two months namely August and September 2017; and not one month as claimed by Blantyre Water Board. The Commission determined that Blantyre Water Board’s conduct was a clear contravention of section 43 (1) (g) of the CFTA which prohibits traders from engaging in unconscionable conduct to consumers. The Commission advised Blantyre Water Board to issue credit notes for two months and not one month; and ordered them to cease and desist from raising tariffs without prior notification to consumers.

Alleged quoting in foreign currency by Airtel Malawi Limited

The Commission ordered Airtel Malawi Limited to cease and desist from engaging in unconscionable conduct and quoting prices in foreign currency until they acquire authorisation from the Minister. This followed an investigation by the Commission which established that Airtel Malawi Limited was quoting the price of their broadband services and VPN services in foreign currency without approval from the Minister responsible for authorization to quote in foreign currency in line with the Exchange Control Act, CAP 45:01 of the Laws of Malawi.

 

The Commission determined that this conduct was a contravention of section (1) (g) of the CFTA which prohibits traders from engaging in unconscionable conduct. Further, the Commission assessed that the conduct was a violation of section 37 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act which makes it mandatory for suppliers or traders of technology, goods or services to indicate clearly in local currency and exhibit to the public the price of any technology, goods and services, unless an express exemption applies under any written law. The Commission also found that the Minister of Finance on 28th February, 2018, issued a public Notice ordering enterprises to stop the practice of quoting in US$ without prior approval.

Alleged unconscionable conduct by Nyika Malawi Limited

The Commission ordered Nyika Malawi Limited to cease and desist from the conduct of providing false information on the delivery of the purchased items to its customers. This followed investigations by the Commission found that Nyika Malawi’s conduct was unconscionable, contrary to section 43 (1) (g) of the CFTA. The also Commission ordered Nyika to deliver the remaining component items to the Complainant within one (1) month of the delivery of the watch; and to give 30% discount refund (amounting to MK76, 199.74).

The Commission launched investigations against Nyika Malawi Ltd on allegations of unconscionable conduct in the trade of goods and services that were brought before the Commission by Mr Adnan Ali. The investigations established that on 3rd April 2017, he the complainant had purchased some items using Nyika Malawi Limited’s online trading platform called Nyika Plus. The items, whose total cost was K253, 999.13 included: a watch, screen protector and reflection shield and to be delivered within 21 days. However, after over two (2) months, the Complainant had not received the items despite making full payment including the delivery fee. His efforts to resolve the matter with the Nyika Malawi proved fruitless because they were not responding to his telephone calls and e-mails.

Alleged unconscionable conduct by Shoprite Trading Limited and Game Stores

The Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) ordered Shoprite Trading Limited and Game Stores to cease and desist from withholding change from consumers. This followed an investigation which the Commission conducted which established that Shoprite Trading Limited and Game Stores was withholding change from consumers. The change was usually in the following denominations; MK20, MK10 and MK5. When consumers confronted till operators they claimed they did not have change in the small denominations.

The Commission found that the two supermarkets’ conducts amounted to be unconscionable contrary to section 43(1) (g) of the CFTA and section 27(3) (a) of the Consumer Protection Act which states that ‘‘an unfair contract means a contract which results in an unreasonable or unequal exchange of value or benefits.’’ The Commission further ordered Shoprite Trading Limited and Game Stores to ensure that they have enough change in all denominations.

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