Pricey disinfectant, sanitiser taken off the shelf

A petrol station in SS17, Subang Jaya was advised to remove ridiculously priced disinfectant spray and hand sanitiser following a visit by the enforcement officers from the Selangor branch Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry.

Petaling Jaya district enforcement chief Azizul Rahman Sapahin, in confirming the visit, admitted the prices of a 450ml bottle Dettol disinfectant spray at RM72 and a 50ml bottle hand sanitiser of the same brand at RM22 were ridiculously high.

“Our officers visited the petrol station after a complaint was lodged. The owner claimed the supplier marked up the prices due to shortage and high demand,” said Azizul.

“We told them to either declare the prices of the products over the past 12 months or remove it from their shelves. They quickly removed them. I think we all know the prices of such items before the Covid-19 outbreak and the Movement Control Order (MCO) kicked in.”

On April 15, Twentytwo13 creative editor Amar Qastellani Tajuddin went to the petrol station and was shocked to see the prices of the products. When Amar brought up the matter with the cashier, the latter confirmed these were indeed the prices.

The price of the disinfectant spray before the pandemic was no more than RM30. Checks online showed that the same hand sanitiser is sold for about RM8. Amar immediately lodged a report with the ministry.

A visit to the petrol station yesterday showed the pricey products were no longer on the counter and had been replaced by hand sanitisers of another brand.

There has been a surge of complaints to the ministry regarding overpriced goods, including face masks and hand santisers, since the MCO started on March 18 but the ministry’s enforcement division price and supply section chief Abd Hafidz A. Rahim told Twentytwo13 last week that the numbers have now dwindled due to strict enforcement.

Azizul pointed out consumers have the right to choose but given the scarcity of such products in recent weeks, he hoped traders will not take advantage of the situation to increase prices.

“We understand traders need to make a living but not at the expense of the consumers. If consumers feel goods are priced higher than usual, they should reach out to us and we will investigate.”

Consumers who want to lodge a report or complain can contact the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry at 1-800-886-800, or WhatsApp +6019-279 4317.

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