The UK Competition Authority publishes update on its COVID-19 taskforce, including number of excessive pricing complaints and investigations

CMA publishes update on COVID-19 Taskforce*

The CMA has today published an update from its COVID-19 Taskforce, set up to monitor and respond to consumer and competition problems arising from the pandemic.

As part of the Taskforce’s work, it asked the public for information about businesses behaving unfairly, for example retailers charging unjustifiably high prices or making misleading claims about their products or services.

Some of the highlights in the update include:

  • As of 19 April, the CMA had received just under 21,000 COVID-19 related complaints, of which 14,000 have come via its dedicated online form.
  • The CMA has written to 187 firms accounting for over 2,500 complaints about large price rises for personal hygiene products, such as hand sanitiser and food products.
  • Complaints relating to cancellations and refunds now account for 4 out of 5 complaints being received.

The number of businesses complained about is smaller than the number of complaints. The 14,000 complaints received via the CMA’s online form refer to just 6,000 individual businesses – around one in a thousand of the private-sector businesses operating in the UK.

The Taskforce is continuing to collect evidence, including about unjustifiable price rises further up the supply chain. Next week the CMA will set out further steps on how it intends to tackle issues around cancellations and refunds. The majority of businesses are behaving in a reasonable way at this time, but the CMA will not hesitate to take enforcement action if there is evidence that businesses have breached competition or consumer protection law.

*This is the original title of the press release. The title above has been amended in order to match the e-Competitions format. Individual authors are welcome to provide original independent commentaries on the case law. Articles are subject to approval by the Board of e-Competitions Bulletin before publication based on the Editorial Policy (click here).

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European Commission, The UK Competition Authority publishes update on its COVID-19 taskforce, including number of excessive pricing complaints and investigations, 24 April 2020, e-Competitions April 2020, Art. N° 94478

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