Competition and Markets Authority issues warning to retailers exploiting coronavirus outbreak
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has warned traders that if they exploit the coronavirus outbreak to take advantage of consumers they will face enforcement action and that, if necessary, it will ask the UK government to introduce price controls.
The CMA will consider any evidence that companies may have broken competition or consumer protection law, for example by charging excessive prices or making misleading claims about the efficacy of protective equipment. And it will take direct enforcement action in appropriate cases.
In addition, the CMA will assess whether it should advise the UK government to consider taking direct action to regulate prices.
Retail giant Amazon last week banned more than a million products which claimed to protect against the virus or cure it.
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.”