With reporting from Chantelle D’mello
Qatar authorities have ordered British department store BHS to pay nearly QR20,000 in penalties for apparently misleading customers during a sales promotion this week.
In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) said a famous store in Landmark Mall had been charging more for items than had been advertised, in violation of the Ministerial Decision No. 5 of 1984 with respect to selling through sales, promotions and discounts.
In addition to paying QR18,000 in penalties, BHS was also ordered to cancel its sale.
The store was temporarily closed earlier this week but has since reopened, according to customers.
During a visit there this morning, the shop could be observed to have several empty racks.
Additionally, sales promotion posters in display windows appeared to have been covered up with white paper.
A manager there declined to comment to Doha News about the matter, but several notices from the MEC regarding the violations were posted on the shop’s doors.
Shops in Qatar planning to hold sales are required to apply in advance to the MEC, which issues licenses for specific discount periods. The ministry also monitors sales to make sure the prices are actually reduced during this period.
This is not the first time the ministry has penalized companies for running bogus sales, but the fine doled out to BHS is more than triple the amount that shops are usually ordered to pay.
In August for example, half a dozen shops temporarily lost their discount licenses and were fined QR5,000 for violating the nation’s sale promotion rules. Another three were able to keep their licenses but still ordered to pay the fines.
In its statement this week, the MEC vowed to intensify its inspections of shops and added:
“The ministry will take decisive action against those who fail to comply with the obligations stipulated in the Consumer Protection Act.”
It also encouraged consumers to compare the prices of items on sale with their original cost.