FAS AND AKIT KEEP PRICES IN ONLINE STORES UNDER CONTROL
The Antimonopoly Service and the Association of E-Commerce Companies discussed preventing a growth of prices on marketplaces and analysed registered cases of unfair practices of some market players
FAS and the Association of E-Commerce Companies (AKIT) jointly with the “Non-Government Consumer Initiative” Consumer Protection Agency (OPI) highlight the facts of price manipulation by online-retailers.
Sellers use various tricks to mislead consumers regarding the goods costs directly in the course of making purchases. The most widespread methods are increasing the prices in a basket at the last stage of ordering (immediately before payment) or refusals to provide the goods that are already paid for and imposing more expensive goods.
Such actions were exposed in the course of ordering on the sites of sport goods that are in high demand in the period of self-isolation.
Since such unfair practices of some online stores have elements of administrative violations under Articles 14.7, 14.8 of the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Violations, consumers can report them to the “Non-Government Consumer Initiative” Consumer Protection Agency (OPI). If violations are confirmed, information about these companies will be entered in the OPI Black List and published in the official resource of Rospotrebnadzor [the Federal Service on Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing].
Earlier, the Federal Antimonopoly Service recommended online services to take into account the developing economic situation in their commercial policies. The Association of E-Commerce Companies highlighted its understanding and readiness to set affordable prices for buyers.
AKIT stated that price manipulation incidents constitute fraud and severe violations of the law.
AKIT President Artem Sokolov pointed out: “With high demand for online purchases, some online stores begin to cheat on buyers and abuse their trust in every way. Goods are offered to clients on site at a particular prices but at the time of buying its prices go up, or a manager calls back to the client and informs that the product is from new supplies so the price is higher. FAS definitely interprets this scenario as negative and considers such actions from the seller’s side absolutely unlawful. The Association is categorically against such practice and is ready to inform the regulators in a timely manner about all such cases”.
Head of FAS Anti-Cartel Department, Andrey Tenishev emphasized: “Unreasonably growing prices for different goods and artificial “washing out” of non-expensive assortment are unacceptable during the pandemic “because it is contrary to the measures undertaken by the Government of the Russian Federation in order to stabilize prices. Furthermore, such conduct of particular sellers in the e-commerce sector can result in inability of the population to acquire particular goods against the adopted restrictive measures. FAS watches the situation carefully and if elements of violating the antimonopoly law are exposed, the Antimonopoly Service will immediately apply the appropriate remedies. I’d like to remind that anticompetitive agreements aimed at increasing prices or creating artificial shortage today are punishable not only with multi-million fines but also incur criminal liability”.