Fake Ramadan discounts trick customers at Sharjah stores
The authorities are carrying out inspections to check the expiry of the promotion.- Alamy Image
Sharjah - Some shops buy goods from hypermarket at discounted price and then sell it to people in residential areas at a premium.
Commercial outlets and shops with fake promotional offers and discounts are proliferating in Sharjah as unscrupulous traders try to exploit the holy month of Ramadan to rake in moolah. They woo customers with misleading promotions and prompt them to go on a buying binge.
Tightening its noose around such traders, the Sharjah Economic Development Department (SEDD) has intensified inspection targeting outlets and grocery shops that are duping consumers with huge discounts - to the tune of 70 per cent - which are actually not genuine.
Strict measures and controls are being imposed on the outlets that offer bogus discounts to attract the customers to make easy profits, pointed out officials at Ministry of Economy (MoE) and SEDD.
"We would not tolerate the nefarious designs of the greedy traders who ignore the law and regulations to cash in on the religious occasion and festival season," the authorities said.
Some of the consumers told Khaleej Times that a number of grocery shops buy goods from hypermarket at discounted price and then sell it to people in residential areas at a premium.
Dr Hashim Al Nuaimi, director of Consumer Protection Department at MoE, said: "We have found that there are many grocery stores that sell products at high prices across the emirate."
The MoE is taking tough measures, in cooperation with municipalities of the emirates and economic departments, to curb such illegal practice that takes customers for a ride. The cooperative team will monitor the discount offers in all types of commercial outlets and food market to ensure credibility.
He assured that all the 70 per cent discount promotions on food products now being provided in hypermarkets and cooperative societies are genuine. Al Nuaimi also urged the public to benefit from these offers and call 600522225 for complaints about price hike or commercial fraud.
Ali Fadel, head of the department of trade protection in SEDD, said his department has put up plans to step up their control campaigns during the holy month to focus on fake promotions, ensuring display of price that is visible to customers, the product's quality and conformity with the VAT guidelines.
He said the intensified monitoring of the market targeting the promotions and offers would deter traders from fleecing consumers. The promotional offers will not be allowed without adherence to permit and licence from the SEDD, which would issue it after confirming that the outlet meets all the conditions and requirements aimed at ensuring best quality product and actual discounts, he underlined. The traders who are found trying to dupe the customers with their discounts would be slapped hefty fines. The SEDD has a list of all the outlets that provide offers on its website and the norms that confirm the credibility of the offer.
The authorities are carrying out inspections to check the expiry of the promotion, commitment to the price they offer for discount and a host of other things associated with genuine offers. There is also a special team assigned to focus on the grocery shops in residential areas.
Ali Fadel also warned against buying products from unlicensed online website which show a product's photo and deliver something else of sub-standard quality to customers.
SEDD has recently received a large number of complaints from customers who were trapped by online traders into fake deals. He urged the public to call SEDD at 80080000 to complain about violations.
Mohammed Amin, who lives in Al Butaina area in Sharjah, said the stupendous profit earned by the sales outlet is more than the fines imposed on them and therefore, they don't care about the penalties they might have to pay if caught.
Najat Ibrahim, a housewife, said she doesn't trust the discounts being offered in some shops, because she finds the prices were the same before they the offer was announced. "I only trust brand outlets that always offer genuine discounts and the customer really benefits from them."
Abdul Hakam Taher, a resident of Al Qasimiya, said the groceries in residential areas sell products at high prices compared to hypermarkets. They don't put price tags on the product and there is no price list visible to costumers, he added.
Hurriya Khan, who stays in Al Qasimiya behind Ameri court, said for a long time a shoe outlet has been displaying a 80 per cent discount sign while also promoting a 'buy one get one free' offer. They sell low quality shoes at a high price, and thus dupe the customers by falsely wooing them, Khan added.