The taskforce continues to receive and monitor complaints about unfair practices in relation to cancellations and refunds and potentially unjustifiable price rises.

By John D. Colahan and Anuj Ghai

On 21 May, the CMA released a further update setting out the work of its COVID-19 Taskforce in responding to complaints regarding competition and consumer protection problems arising from the novel coronavirus and measures taken to contain it. This follows a 30 April report (summarised here) which set out the programme of work the CMA intended to undertake to deal with complaints about unfair practices in relation to cancellations and refunds.

Based on the complaints received and additional information received from consumer bodies, such as Which? and Citizens Advice, the CMA’s principal concerns continue to relate to unfair practices in relation to cancellations and refunds and unjustifiable price increases, particularly for essential goods. The CMA notes that from 10 March to 17 May it was contacted more than 60,000 times about coronavirus-related issues; further, the rate at which consumers are contacting the CMA has increased in recent weeks suggesting that problems continue to persist.

The CMA is concerned that businesses may be engaging in unfair practices in relation to cancellations and refunds, and unjustifiable price increases.

 By John D. Colahan and Anuj Ghai

Background

On 24 April 2020, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published an update on the work of its COVID-19 Taskforce (the Taskforce) (the Update Report). Shortly after establishing the Taskforce, the CMA launched an online service to allow businesses and consumers to report “unfair practices” related to COVID-19. The  Update Report summarises the nature and volume of complaints that the CMA has received so far and the actions it has taken in response. The CMA intends to publish additional reports while unfair practices related to COVID-19 persist.