Warning that it plans to “intensify” its enforcement campaign against retailers that defraud or mislead consumers, Qatar’s Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) has fined three shops for improperly running sales.
In Qatar, retailers need the government’s permission before advertising a sale and must follow specific rules.
The unnamed stores snared in the ministry’s latest sweep are accused of not separating merchandise on sale from regularly priced items, failing to affix a price tag to merchandise, changing prices before and after the sale as well as including less than 80 percent of the shop’s merchandise in the promotion, the MEC said.
Other recorded violations included charging customers more than the announced prices, using misleading advertising and not advertising or providing information about the merchandise in Arabic, the statement added.
— وزارة التجارة والصناعة (@MOCIQatar) January 26, 2016
In total, inspectors registered 14 violations against three retailers, each of which was also fined QR5,000. All lost their permit to hold that specific sale.
Penalties for violating Law No. 8 for the year 2008 for consumer protection include fines ranging from QR3,000 to QR1 million as well as a forced closure of the store, according to the statement.
The ministry warned retailers in Qatar that those who hold permits to offer discounts must hold ”real” sales and avoid announcing misleading and fake discounts.
It also encouraged consumers to compare the prices of items on sale with their original cost and ask for a detailed receipt of any item, including its original price and discount price.
The MEC frequently conducts surprise inspections on shops during sale promotion periods to check that prices have in fact been reduced.
In December, authorities ordered British department store BHS to pay nearly QR20,000 in penalties for allegedly misleading customers during a sales promotion.
And in August, half a dozen shops temporarily lost their discount licenses and were fined QR5,000 for violating sale promotion rules .
Residents can report any violations, complaints or suggestions by calling the ministry’s hotline at 16001, e-mailing [email protected], sending a message via Twitter to the account @MEC_Qatar or by downloading the MEC_QATAR smartphone app for iPhone and Android devices .