Press Releases 2009

25/06/2009 00:00:00 Lack of real competition in internet services

THERE is very little competition in the Fiji retail internet services market, leaving many consumers disadvantaged by persistent connection problems, lack of access, lack of quality customer services and high prices.

22/06/2009 16:05:45 Consumers demand Compensation for poor service delivery by Connects Services:

The Consumer Council of Fiji is appalled at the poor quality of customer services provided to consumers by the Telecom Fiji and Connect Internet services. For weeks Connect has been working on replacing its old IP addresses (IP: 202.62.124.238 and IP: 202.62.120.4) on e-mail servers with new IP addresses (“smtp.connect.com.fj”) without informing its customers and this carelessness of Connect has not only caused a lot of frustration to consumers but huge costs to businesses as well. The instruction was posted on connect website for IT administrators, IT Engineers and home users to make changes to their servers and personal computers. Unfortunately, this instruction was not communicated to Connect clients, which caused disruption to connect services. Connect expected its customers to log in to Connect website to read this instruction. Why would clients go to connect website if they are not carrying connect e-mail addresses? Consumers and businesses suffered due to Connects irresponsibility. Our survey with IT administrators and IT companies reveal that they were not informed.

14/06/2009 15:22:32 Council questions Air Transport Licensing Board’s (ALTB) Decision

The Consumer Council of Fiji is concerned that ALTB decision to increase airfares for Pacific Sun by $10 is not justified. ALTB should be aware of unreliable service offered by the Pacific Sun, in particular flights operating not according to the timetable. As a regulatory requirement under Civil Aviation Act, Pacific Sun must have provided a plan to ALTB detailing how it will provide satisfactory service to consumers in respect to safety, regularity of operation, frequency, punctuality, general efficiency, etc. When ALTB issues a license to a domestic operator it is subject to certain conditions and if these conditions are not adhered to, it is then ALTB’s legal duty to take action against the airline for non-compliance. Unfortunately, ALTB has failed to monitor and reprimand an airline that is not conforming to its flight schedule.

12/06/2009 15:27:27 Consumer credit regulations commended

The Council commends the Cabinet for approving the long-awaited Consumer Credit Regulations. The Act which was passed in 1999 to protect borrowers and guarantors was not realised because not only the Regulations had to be put into place, but the principle Act had to go through amendments to make it workable. This legislation protects consumers who engage in hire purchase, housing loans, contracts dealing with guarantee to name a few.

27/05/2009 10:06:30 Council applauds LTA’s good work

The Consumer Council of Fiji is pleased that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is not taking consumer safety lightly as they are now implementing positive steps to ensure that all forms of public transportation, including taxis are safe to run on the road.

26/05/2009 15:13:33 West youths feel price pinch

YOUTHS in the Western Division have raised their concerns with the Consumer Council of Fiji in regards to exorbitant price increase of products in shops and supermarkets.

25/05/2009 12:23:19 FEA loan talk suspicious

The Consumer Council is concerned that recent comments in the media by the head of the Fiji Electricity Authority (FEA), hints at a possible call for an increase in electricity charges.

22/05/2009 15:02:02 Consumers facing major price hikes: survey

The Consumer Council of Fiji has in recent weeks, following devaluation, being flooded with consumer concerns regarding price increases for food and non-food items. There are no regulations covering non-control items, however the Council in its role as the consumer watchdog can only offer advice and suggestions to consumers to better manage their spending. The Council is also doing its best to maintain vigilance over market practices and accordingly advising consumers, consumer protection agencies and other authorities. To that end, we have responded to consumer and public concerns by undertaking a special post-devaluation price survey of major supermarkets in three main urban districts – Suva, Lautoka and Labasa. This is an ongoing exercise and the Council will regularly put out consumer alerts and advisories when information comes to hand. The exercise is also intended to help ease the burden of the price hikes on consumers by providing information and tips to them. The Council later on, intends to engage with consumer protection stakeholders, including the government to look for solutions or remedies to the situation.

20/05/2009 15:17:39 Air Fiji customers in the dark

Air Fiji customers who have bought tickets in advance or who have had their flights cancelled as a result of the airline’s cessation of operations have been left in the dark in regards to refunds and other redress.

15/05/2009 15:15:28 Price hikes a worry, consumers should take precautions

The Consumer Council of Fiji has expressed concerns over the exorbitant increases in the prices of retails goods, particularly food items, throughout the country.

14/05/2009 15:46:55 Shortages in Labasa, councils wants hoarding checked

The Consumer Council of Fiji’s Labasa office has reported a short supply of some basic food items like canned tuna, milk, potatoes, etc in some large retail outlets in the northern town. Some popular items like Sunbell tuna is not available or in short supply in Labasa supermarkets. Upon query, shop managers informed the council that the suppliers had told them that they do not have such basic items in their stock. The Labasa office has also reported a shortage of a popular brand of powdered milk.

29/04/2009 15:52:09 Locally produced egg prices soar

A Consumer Council of Fiji survey on the price of locally produced 660gram Ram Sami eggs has revealed gradual price increases from May 2008 to April 2009. The removal of the value added tax (VAT) on locally produced eggs on May 5, 2008 by the Finance Ministry has failed to be reflected in the retail price of eggs which has since gone up by $0.80 cents or twenty-eight percent (refer to table below).

22/04/2009 12:00:16 Council gives RBF complaints unit a chance

The Consumer Council of Fiji welcomes the establishment of a consumer complaints unit within the Reserve Bank of Fiji. RBF has decided to establish a complaints unit that will address consumers’ grievances against financial institutions in Fiji instead of the previously discussed establishment of an office of the Financial Ombudsman. Given the circumstances in Fiji we are happy that special unit has been set up as an immediate step to provide consumer redress.

22/04/2009 11:59:11 Consumer watchdog praises RBF move

The Consumer Council of Fiji commends RBF for directing the commercial banks in the country to reduce their interest rates to four percent. The recent increases in the lending rates prior to the Fiji dollar devaluation had the Council very concerned and we acted by writing a letter to the former RBF governor on April 2, 2009. Whilst the Council is aware that RBF has no direct control over the fees, charges and interest rates levied by the banks, it is nonetheless obligated to ensure that banks lending rates are set in line with the market conditions.

06/04/2009 11:38:23 The bus industry can’t have it both ways

In the recent weeks, the Consumer Council of Fiji may have been observed to maintain its silence in relation to the alleged legal action by the FBOA against the Council despite FBOA repeatedly making personal attacks against the CEO (paid advertisement of Fiji Times, 21/3/09) and generally, the work of the Council. The Council is an issue-based organization and only responds to issues impacting our consumers and their wellbeing. The services provided by the bus industry in Fiji is one such issue.

20/03/2009 14:31:33 Air Pacific Requested to be fair to Fiji consumers

The Consumer Council of Fiji requests Air Pacific to be fair to the consumers in Fiji. The recent reduction in fuel surcharge by $20 per flight that took effect from 15th March 2009 is not reflective of the recent decrease in fuel prices.

17/03/2009 15:41:03 Telecomm price removal a disappointing decision

The Consumer Council of Fiji is greatly disappointed with the decision taken by the Commerce Commission to remove the price control from telecommunications services in the country. This decision simply means the telecommunication companies will set their own fees and charges for mobile service, landline service and international calls.

16/03/2009 10:07:30 FNPF ACTING LIKE A TYPICAL BANK

The Consumer Council of Fiji is greatly disappointed to learn about the new $20 withdrawal fees that the Fiji National Provident Fund has decided to impose on its members. The Council believes that this is not the time to impose such fees because of the impact of the global recession on consumers in Fiji. FNFP members are withdrawing from their superannuation funds because many of them are experiencing financial difficulties. Imposing of the fee will definitely not act as a deterrent and members are likely to continue withdrawing in these financially difficult times.

12/03/2009 14:33:36 Mistake is no defense in law

Vodafone Fiji Limited tends to label every breach of Fair Trading legislation by them as a “mistake”, which upon receipt of consumer complaints have been corrected. Ideally, the creator of “mistake” is mandated to rectify and compensate for any inconvenience or loss caused to the consumer. This is the only ethical and socially just thing to do for a corporate industry who is “socially responsible”. Needless to remind our consumers, there have been several incidences of the so-called mistakes by Vodafone in the course of providing their communication services to consumers in Fiji. For example, double-up promotions that caused network congestions and Vodafone customers who tried to use the network but failed to get through and still were charged for attempting to make calls or send text messages; bulk billing of post pay customers; and misleading advertisements that caused a loss of money and valuable time to consumers but benefits to the company. Vodafone may view these incidences as an innocent mistake or an oversight on their part. However, in the consumer world such incidences are nothing short of unfair trade practices by Vodafone.

06/03/2009 14:34:49 Scrap fuel surcharge, Council tells Air Pacific

Following the rescinding of the Fiji Electricity Authority fuel surcharge, the Consumer Council of Fiji is now calling on the national airline to remove the surcharge for both Air Pacific and Pacific Sun flights. Imposing the fuel surcharge on ticket prices was justified when the price of fuel was high. However, now that fuel prices have fallen significantly, the airline should do right by the travelling consumers and remove the surcharge. Since August 2008, fuel prices have taken a nosedive but Air Pacific continues to slug travellers with surcharge. The question that the Council would like to pose to Air Pacific is: exactly how low does the fuel price have to fall before the airline decides on removing the surcharge?

Press Releases 2009 60-80 »