Sneaky retailers who dupe Dubai shoppers with suspect sales are the target in a tough crackdown - as authorities revealed that they already hit some offenders with fines of up to Dhs250,000.
The Department of Economic Development (DED) said that some shoddy stores are trying to lure shoppers - especially tourists - with promises of bumper 75 percent discounts. However, a ‘Double Check’ team of price inspectors has unearthed more than 800 products in Dubai so far this year being sold at prices violating promotion permits.
Authorities are taking the fight to shop owners who con customers with false discount. In addition to heavy fines, store owners caught running mythical markdowns are also being forced to write a grovelling pledge not to repeat their fraud. They are also told to reimburse any shoppers deceived by their sting. The tough measures are being taken as the DED is determined not to “allow anyone to jeopardise Dubai’s reputation”.
Omar Bushahab, chief executive of the DED’s Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection Division (CCCP), is heading the crackdown and said the ‘Double Check’ team was formed “after stores had been providing inaccurate data and misguiding customers, especially tourists”. “The special team aims to shore up confidence among investors and traders and to facilitate commercial activity in Dubai,” he explained.
Undercover officials have been monitoring Dubai’s retail scene for months - carefully recording prices before and after promotional offers and taking pictures of merchandise. The data has then been compared with that submitted by retailers to authorities in order to receive promotional permits.
The department stressed that only a handful of firms in Dubai’s huge retail market had been found guilty of wrongdoing, but that several offenders operated branches across the emirate and the wider UAE. While the bulk of the 16,000 items examined by inspectors passed scrutiny, 800 items were found to have been falsely priced. Firms falling foul of the law will face extra scrutiny when applying for future permits, with a special committee considering all future requests.
“In the case of repeat offence, DED will take the necessary measures needed to enhance the credibility of such promotions,” said Mohammed Shael Al Saadi, chief executive of the Business Registration and Licensing division.