Puebla, Mexico, December 9, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s consumer protection agency says it has launched another crackdown on price gouging ahead of Christmas.
The latest crackdown was centered around children’s clothing chain EPK, which has been forced to sell products at reduced prices by the government’s National Superintendence for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights (SUNDDE) on Wednesday.
"We are ordering a supervised sale at all 31 EPK stores nationwide," said SUNDDE head William Contreras, according to El Nacional.
The supervised sale means SUNDDE will temporarily oversee EPK’s sales, ensuring products are sold at prices regulated by the agency.
One local newspaper, El Sol de Margarita has reported EPK has been forced to lower its prices by between 20 and 80 percent.
SUNDDE said it took action against EPK after the retailer was found to have increased its prices while being audited by the government. The agency has stated EPK was ordered to not adjust any of its prices until the audit was complete.
“From December 1st, we ordered this company not to increase prices,” Contreras tweeted.
EPK is yet to publicly respond to SUNDDE’s latest actions, though in the past the agency has been accused of forcing businesses to sell products at losses.
Speaking to state broadcaster VTV, Contreras alleged the retailer was selling products at mark ups averaging around 540 percent.
“That is to say, if this company that had a product with a [regular] price of BsF19,990, it was raised to BsF51,000,” he said.
The retailer is just the latest company targeted by SUNDDE, which has warned retailers against unjustified price hikes over the holiday season. A day before EPK was hit with the supervised sale, SUNDDE also announced new regulated prices for basic goods like corn flour, coffee and sugar.
The agency also made international headlines earlier this month, when it seized over 3 million toys allegedly being sold at speculative prices.
The agency said the toys will be given to poor children for Christmas.