The competitions commission has declared Dischem Pharmacies guilty of price hiking during the Covid-19 pandemic, stating that their prices have drastically spiked between February and April.
The commission confirmed that Dischem may face a fine of 10% of its turnover, as punishment for price hiking during the lockdown period.
Commissioner Thembinkosi Bonakele of the competition’s commission stated in an interview with eNCA, that stores should not be explorative in their pricing during these trying times, by taking advantage of consumers.
The retail chain says it plans to oppose the decision of the commission to refer it to the competitions tribunal for prosecution as their prices went up due to manufacturers hiking their prices because of the increase in demand.
Contrary to that statement, Dischem CEO Ivan Saltzman stated that their prices are actually lower and the price of masks have actually been reduced. He was also firm in stating that Dischem could not suffer the loss of income by selling products off at cost price, because that would mean the chain would not have any products to sell if they did not increase prices.
During the interview Saltzman seemed very defensive but couldn’t justify or substantially clarify why Dischem had inflated prices of goods in such a excessive manner.
Dischem inflated prices of goods such as surgical face masks blue 50pc from R43.47(excl vat) per unit (50masks) in February 2020 to R156.95 (excl.VAT) per unit (50 masks) in March 2020, a price increase of 261%
Dischem was met by several complaints by consumers who took to social media to voice the unfair price hikes they were experiencing from the pharmaceutical chain, stating that prices were unreasonably marked without being sensitive to the financial strain on consumer due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The competitions commission has urged the competitions tribunal to hand down the harshest punishment to the pharmaceutical chain for the unreasonable manner in which they inflated their prices in just a period of over a month.
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