A recent case in which Birmingham Trading Standards successfully prosecuted a shopkeeper for price-hiking during the COVID-19 pandemic highlights how seriously such offences are taken – and how trading standards will ensure those responsible are brought to justice.
Officers from Birmingham Trading Standards were tipped off by members of the public that Amjad Rehman, owner of Food World in Birmingham, was selling toilet paper for £1.49 a pack despite the packaging being clearly labelled £1. He claimed that the pricing was an honest mistake, but when another member of the public subsequently complained about the pricing of chapati flour being sold by Rehman, officers returned to the store.
They found that packs of flour labelled £12.49 were being sold for £22 and brought a prosecution against Rehman under Regulation 5(4)(g) of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
Mohammed Tariq, Senior Trading Standards Officer at Birmingham City Council, said: “During the pandemic, there has been an influx of complaints about price hiking. We were concerned that a small minority of traders might exploit the situation by making misleading claims and heavily inflating the price of products and services.
“There had been complaints from the public about this trader in particular.
“Whilst traders can charge what they want for an item, it’s a criminal offence to charge a higher price for products that are clearly marked with a visible lower price. We will investigate any complaints about price hiking and those responsible will be prosecuted.”
Rehman pleaded guilty to two counts of engaging in a misleading commercial practice when he appeared at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on June 10. He was fined and ordered to pay costs amounting to almost £2,000.
“The conviction of Mr Rehman and Rehman Foods Ltd, trading as Food World, is a perfect example that this department will not tolerate businesses that decided to flout the law,” Tariq added.