Consumers should not be made to pay for price-fixing


Yap Ek Chor

Published: 4:00 AM, July 17, 2017

Any act intended to fix the prices of business entities is illegal. It seems the discussion (about raising coffee prices) held by the stall owners may have violated the Competition Act (Why go after hawkers over price hikes?; July 14).

Generally speaking, consumers here are accustomed to price hikes, and accept that shop owners face a predicament owing to increasing costs.

Any price hike may trigger a chain reaction, hence the increased prices at coffee stalls should come as no surprise. But although business owners have a right to set their own prices, it comes down to how this is done.

The act of hawkers or coffee shop owners having discussions is no different from companies trying to fix prices. The result is that price fixing will be carried out and reflected in the market.

One should not settle for the suggestion that consumers vote with their feet by seeking cheaper options as the solution.

This would evade the problem. If the watchdog and authorities fail to recognise this, consumers at large would suffer.