The Competition Tribunal has confirmed three consent agreements relating to COVID-19 excessive pricing complaints. This brings the total number, approved as orders of the Tribunal in recent weeks, to 15.
All of these agreements relate to the alleged excessive pricing of essential goods, such as sanitisers and face masks, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Commission concluded the consent agreements with the companies after receiving and investigating complaints from the public.
Sunset Pharmacy CC
Sunset Pharmacy is based in Sea Point, Cape Town. According to the Commission, the pharmacy entered the market for face masks in March 2020 due to the sudden demand, and panic buying, brought on by the state of national disaster.
The Commission was of the view that Sunset Pharmacy’s average cost mark-up and gross profit margin in respect of face masks for March 2020 was high and possibly constitute a contravention of the Competition Act read with the Consumer Protection Regulations (the Regulations).
Sunset Pharmacy has undertaken to, among others, donate R8 640 to the Solidarity Fund and reduce its profit margin charged in respect of face masks for the duration of the state of national disaster.
Cedar Pharmaceuticals CC t/a Bel-Kem Pharmacy
This pharmacy is based in Belhar, Cape Town, in the Western Cape.
The Commission investigated the pharmacy after receiving information relating the price that it had been charging customers for 750ml Dettol Antiseptic Liquid in March 2020. The Commission found that the average cost mark-up and gross profit margin was high and therefore possibly a contravention of the Act (i.e. excessive pricing) read with the Regulations.
Bel-Kem Pharmacy, in its consent agreement with the Commission, has undertaken to donate R1 059.10 to the Solidarity Fund. It has also agreed to reduce its profit margin on 750ml Dettol.
Manhattan Cosmetics CC
Manhattan Cosmetics, based in Pinetown in KwaZulu-Natal, operates in the market for the supply of groceries, cosmetics and hairdressing products. According to the Commission, it entered the market for hand sanitisers in March 2020 due to the sudden demand and panic buying brought on by the national state of disaster.
The Commission found that the company’s cost mark-up and gross profit margin for the sale of hand sanitisers in March 2020 were high and may constitute a contravention of the Competition Act read with the Regulations.
Manhattan Cosmetics has undertaken to donate sanitisers to the value of R612 to the Durban Child and Youth Care Centre. According to the agreement, the amount is relative to the overcharge to customers.
Manhattan Cosmetics has also agreed to reduce its gross profit margin charged in respect of hand sanitisers for the duration of the state of national disaster.
Issued by Competition Tribunal