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Traders warned not to rip-off consumers amid coronavirus outbreak

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak
Posted:
Updated:
05/03/2020

The competition regulator is warning traders not to exploit the current situation over coronavirus.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it is monitoring reports of changes to sales and pricing practices in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

It wants to ensure traders aren’t exploiting the current situation and warns it will take enforcement action where it finds evidence of consumers being charged excessive prices or where firms make misleading claims about the effectiveness of protective equipment.

The warning comes after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) this week banned two face mask adverts claiming to protect consumers from coronavirus. It said the adverts were misleading, irresponsible and likely to cause fear without justifiable reason.

CMA chairman, Lord Tyrie, said: “We will do whatever we can to act against rip-offs and misleading claims, using any or all of our tools; and where we can’t act, we’ll advise government on further steps they could take, if necessary.”

CMA chief executive, Andrea Coscelli, said: “We urge retailers to behave responsibly throughout the coronavirus outbreak and not to make misleading claims or charge vastly inflated prices. We also remind members of the public that these obligations may apply to them too if they resell goods, for example on online marketplaces.”