Dis-Chem rejects claim it hiked prices of surgical masks

Dis-Chem said its pricing was within regulated guidelines and it did not engage in price-gouging or excessive price-fixing.
Image: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

South African drug store chain Dis-Chem said on Friday it will oppose a referral to the Competition Tribunal after an investigation found it had inflated prices of dust and surgical masks during the coronavirus outbreak.

On Thursday, the Competition Commission, which investigates competition complaints and refers them to the Tribunal for prosecution, said it had found that Dis-Chem hiked the prices of those masks by as much as 261% during the State of National Disaster in early March.

In an emailed response, Dis-Chem said it was consulting its legal team and economic experts and would oppose the complaint referral.

“It does not believe that the information and data provided to the Competition Commission during its investigation establishes any contravention of the Competition Act,” the company said.

“Unfortunately, that information and data appears to have been misunderstood. Dis-Chem will be responding, in detail, to the allegations in the referral in due course.”

Dis-Chem said its pricing was within regulated guidelines and it did not engage in price-gouging or excessive price-fixing.

The Commission has asked the Tribunal to impose a maximum penalty against Dis-Chem.

The Commission is investigating more than 300 complaints against retailers and suppliers of essential goods for over-charging essential commodities when South Africa is struggling with a shortage of medical supplies and equipment.

Most complaints of excessive pricing were related to hand sanitisers and face masks, followed by toilet paper, flu medication and other products during the coronavirus outbreak, the Competition Commission said last month.

Last Wednesday, Babelegi Workwear Overall Manufacturers was referred to the Tribunal for hiking the price of face masks by 500%.

On Friday the tribunal said a Gauteng hardware store must refund its customers for the overcharge of surgical gloves and it must also reduce its mark-up on those gloves to 10% during the remainder of the pandemic period and for six months thereafter.


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Dis-chem is in the news quite often these day’s.

Where they not also refusing to pay rent or something? Yet they are operating?

Looks like they have a slight ethics problem.

SLIGHT ethics problem??? You’re too kind.

AT times like these we need strong and insightful leadership and that means:
– Government must either set pricing caps/limits on strategic items to save lives or distribute the items themselves;
– That includes basic food items and things like PPE (masks, sanitizers, etc)

Have you lost your mind?
The results will be similar to what we have at Eskom, SAA, and the rest of the SOE’s, plus 90% of the bankrupt municipalities. The government is moving in the opposite direction. They are privatising because people like yourself cannot keep your fingers out of the cookie jar. Even the food parcels are being stolen right now by the ANC counsellors!

The governments in Venezuela and Zimbabwe have been following your advice to the letter, and people are dying like flies there.

How does this rant generate 12 likes!

You have said nothing we didn’t know and just plucked at all the low hanging fruit in your response. Argue the validity or lack thereof in Africa Pragmatist’s point and stop accusing people of being thieves when you have no facts.

Covid 19 will end and we would have missed an opportunity to change something fundamentally broken in government AND business. Black people will still think white business is corrupt and white people will continue to view black government as corrupt. We suffer differently from their brokenness but suffer we all do.

Sensei, in African culture we say your name follows you. You have dishonoured the name you chose for yourself! Do better because that rant is conditioning and not a reflection of self or your hopes for your country.

Shinga, The facts are all over the newspapers and in fact, the president, who happens to be a black man, said that he is shocked by it. Personally I believe that president Ramaphosa not only is an outstanding human being, on par with the late Neldon Mandela but that he is also one of the top 3 leaders in the world.

I cannot agree with your point that black people think that white businesses are corrupt and that white people believe that black people are corrupt. That is simply an ignorant racist remark and attempt at cheap identity politics. People are individuals and although there are psychological differences, overall, we are all the same. Carl Niehaus is white you know.

Lastly, I stand by my statement, simply because it is factually correct. Now if you are finished with your emotional rant, please follow the advice of you Commander in Chief, Julius Malema, and win the debate on intellectual grounds, not by shouting down the opposition.

Stay safe, my compatriot.

Dishchem = Greedy Corporate Opportunists

I’m amazed at the temerity of the government in capping private enterprises mark up’s – yet they allow operations like Eskom and other SoE’s to practice price gouging. Boggles the brain

I am also not so sure if Dischem is very ethical in their business dealings and the types of products they sell when they claim they stock health products for our improvement. They will do anything for money and sell any medication or supplement that could be dangerous for our health just to make a buck and this is evident in the vaping products that they now sell.

Diskem, certainly suffer from an Ethics problem.
Even when they listed there were issues around corporate governance.
Where are the asset managers ESG resonsibilities.
The PIC seems to be the largest shareholder. they remain silent.
The founders being the Saltzman family own 52% so there lies the problem. they control the board and its the SAltzman family that should be named and shamed if the tribunal prove gouging to be the case.

End of comments.



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