The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) on Monday, March 16, took action against Cleanshelf Supermarket after citizens raised complaints on social media over arbitrary hikes of the prices at the supermarket’s Ruaka branch.
Citizens had revealed that following confirmation of the first coronavirus case in the country, there had been a seemingly artificial shortage of 500ml bottles of hand-sanitisers on the shelves of the supermarket, with bottles appearing and disappearing.
Within a matter of hours, the price for a single bottle went from Ksh800 to Ksh900 and, eventually, Ksh1000.
The CAK ordered the supermarket to track down and refund all customers who purchased the sanitiser at inflated prices by Thursday, March 26.”Cleanshelf Supermarkets normally retails the specific hands or retailer at Ksh800 However, the authority has determined that the retailer on March 15, 2020, sold the same batch of product to consumers at varying amounts above Ksh800, including Ksh1,000 with the prices increasing within hours.
“The retailer, therefore, exploited its relative strength as a retailer to commercially detriment consumers whose bargaining position has been diminished following the pronouncement of Covid-19 in Kenya.
“The authority has therefore ordered Cleanshelf to contact and refund ALL the consumers who purchased the 960 pieces of the Tropikal brand hand sanitisers above the usual selling price and submit evidence to support the same by March 26, 2020,” the CAK statement reads in part.
On their part, the supermarket shifted blame to an unnamed individual employee whom they accused of manipulating the prices.”This was an individual error and the management of Cleanshelf, wholly and unreservedly apologises to all our customers.
“Any customer overcharged for this product should kindly go back to the branch for a full refund. Disciplinary action has already been taken on the staff member,” a statement by the retailer reads in part.
The establishment vowed not to tolerate arbitrary changes in its pricing policy. President Uhuru Kenyatta had on Sunday, March 15 warned that stern action would be taken on traders who hoarded goods or unfairly increased prices to capitalise on the depressed economic environment resulting from the Coronavirus outbreak.
Uhuru spoke while announcing that the confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country had risen to three after two individuals who came into contact with a 27-year-old ‘patient zero’ also tested positive.