Phuket officials ordered to crack down on price fraud

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PHUKET: Local officials have been ordered to strictly check price tags and products in stores across the island to protect consumers from price fraud and being taken advantage of.


The order came from Phuket Provincial Office Chief (Palad) Sakchai Kunanawatchaidej at Phuket Provincial Hall yesterday (Aug 10) at the second meeting in two days of the Phuket Provincial Office Consumer Protection Subcommittee.

Present in person to receive the order were representatives from many other government offices, including law enforcement, on the island.

At the meeting it was reported that since Oct 1 last year the Consumer Protection Subcommittee had received 96 complaints – 80 of which were still under review; with the remaining 16 resolved, resulting in consumers receiving compensation totalling B892,558.

To protect consumers from price gouging and other unethical business practices, Palad Sakchai ordered relevant organisations to strictly check price tags and products of stores to protect consumers from being taken advantage of.

“In accordance with the Consumer Protection Act, consumers who have been taken advantage of must receive help and a form of recourse, and from this they will be encouraged to have a better understanding of their rights being protected from abuse,” he said.

The committee also noted that it had received eight complaints about condominium projects whereby consumers had bought units through signed contracts.

Some of them had already paid deposits and installments, but construction of the projects had been delayed to the point that the buyers had requested to cancel their contracts and receive their money back.

The committee noted that attempts to reconcile the complaints through the developers and consumers had failed, and that the committee had agreed to pass these cases on to the Phuket branch of the Consumer Protection Board for further action.

Exactly which condo projects were involved was not disclosed, though only in May this year Emerald Group CEO Sawit Ketroj was taken into custody for defrauding investors of a total of more than B127.5 million.

The precise charge is breach of Section 22 of the Consumer Protection Act by providing false statements through advertisements published via the internet and other media, explained Tourist Police Chief Surachet Hakpan, who travelled to Phuket expressly to announce Mr Sawit’s arrest. (See story here.)

The projects affected by the claims were named as: The Emerald City Life Condo Patong; The Emerald Ao Nang Condo (Krabi); The Emerald Terrace Patong; and The Emerald – Central.

All four projects are developed under separate subsidiaries of the Emerald Development Group Co Ltd.

Also of note, the national Office of the Consumer Protection Board from Aug 1 no longer receives complaints via email. Instead, complaints can be submitted through a web form posted on the OCPB website (click here).

Alternatively, complaints made be submitted directly by calling the OCPB hotline 1166.

Courtesy: Published at The Phuket News on August 10, 2018

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