Market watchdog confronts cancellation, mask price complaints

Hu Min
A branch of the Shidai Lianhua supermarket chain was warned and ordered to rectify after failing to mark prices and gouging customers on medical face masks, say authorities.
Hu Min

The city's market watchdog received over 80 complaints on Tuesday regarding cancellation of tours and increased prices on surgical masks triggered by an outbreak of coronavirus-related pneumonia, the Shanghai Administration for Market Regulation said on Wednesday.

Some complaints were about disputes over cancellations of air tickets, accommodations, amusement park tickets and film tickets, the administration said.

Travel agencies have offered free cancellation of orders including hotels, car rental and tourist attraction ticketing in Wuhan, but other cities are not covered. 

However, some people who booked trips to other cities also requested free cancellation due to fear of cononavirus. A consumer complained that her request of cancellation of accommodation order in a hotel in Hangzhou, neighboring Zhejiang Province, was rejected by Trip.com.

Meanwhile, the Pingyang Road branch of the Shidai Lianhua supermarket chain in Minhang District was warned and ordered to rectify by the Minhang District Administration for Market Regulation for failing to mark prices and gouging customers, the administration said on Wednesday.

Officials were tipped off on Tuesday that packs of three masks were sold online at 118 yuan (US$17.1) by the supermarket, which is more than double the normal price.

Inspectors found four types of masks sold at the supermarket did not bear prices, and the business was selling masks online several times above normal prices.

The supermarket operator was given a warning, and ordered to rectify immediately.

Further investigation is underway.

Based on China's price law, violators can face up to 3 million yuan in fines, and have their business license revoked in serious cases.

The Shanghai Administration for Market Regulation said residents can dial 12315 to report market irregularities.

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