Shops and outlets in 10 major malls in Qatar have been penalized for running bogus sales promotions by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC).
January is a popular month for sales, and inspectors recently conducted spot checks at stores in City Center Mall, Landmark Mall, Villaggio Mall, Ezdan Mall, The Mall, Hyatt Plaza, Royal Plaza, Lagoona Mall, Lulu and Dar Al Salam Mall, according to local media reports.
The MEC booked stores for a total of 37 violations of varying types, in accordance with Ministerial Decision No. 5 of 1984 with respect to selling through sales, promotions and discounts.
حملات تفتيشية مكثفة تسفر عن ضبط 37 مخالفة خلال موسم العروض الترويجية والتنزيلات pic.twitter.com/Az5Hfi2tVh
— وزارة التجارة والصناعة (@MOCIQatar) January 6, 2015
(Translated into English: “Intensive inspection campaigns resulted in 37 violations during promotion season.”)
This covers promotions such as discount sales, scratch-and-win offers and lucky draws. Shops in Qatar planning to hold sales are required to apply in advance to the MEC.
Some stores use a sale strategy to entice customers into patronizing their outlets.
The Quantitative Licenses and Market Control Section of the MEC’s Consumer Protection department has the power to issue licenses to shops for promotions and discounts, and monitors those sales to ensure prices are actually reduced.
The offending stores – which were not named – were found to be running offers without obtaining a license from the ministry; displaying differences between the actual price and the price tags; and failing to display prices clearly, the Peninsula reports.
Penalties for the offenders included a fine of up to QR5,000 and the withdrawal of their promotions license by the MEC for the remainder of the sale period.
The MEC has been stepping up inspections of sale promotions in the past few months.
In December, during checks on 143 stores throughout the country, 12 were found to have committed a number of offenses, including not declaring the prices before and after the sale period, and not maintaining the authorized sale prices for the duration of the promotion.
The booked stores included fashion, home furnishings and accessories outlets as well as beauty salons, Qatar Tribune said.
And in September 2013, UK-based department store M&S, which has stores in Villaggio and Landmark malls, had its promotion license temporarily withdrawn by the MEC.
It was found to have offered a false promotion, by marking sales prices at a higher rate than they were given permission under their licence.
According to Qatar’s consumer protection laws, customers are entitled to ask stores to show their prices before and during their promotion period, as well as the discount rate approved by the MEC.
Customers should also be given an itemized receipt, showing the original price and then the discounted one.
Residents who believe that a store is not following the regulations can report them to the MEC via their toll-free phone number (800 5000), by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by messaging them on their @MEC_Qatar Twitter account.