Two surveys of commodity prices yesterday revealed that the prices of four kinds of household goods have increased slightly following the government’s announcement in April of increases in fuel and electricity rates.
Consumers’ Foundation chairwoman Joann Su (蘇錦霞) said her group’s collaboration with the Executive Yuan’s Consumer Protection Commission in conducting the surveys aimed to examine whether prices of household goods have risen because of the fuel price hike on April 2.
Among the 10 kinds of household goods surveyed, the average prices of washing powder, shower gel, toothpaste and tissues sold at major hypermarkets and supermarkets were found to have increased slightly between March and last month.
According to survey results from the commission and foundation respectively, the average prices of washing powder increased by 5.4 percent and 2.8 percent; those for shower gel rose 3.5 percent and 5.2 percent; toothpaste by 2.9 percent and 2.5 percent; and tissues by 2.5 percent and 6.5 percent.
Commission Director-General Liu Ching-fang (劉清芳) said the long-term price trend of the 10 kinds of household goods was still stable and reasonable and the increases could not be directly attributed to the rise in fuel and electricity prices.
However, Liu said there were three cases that aroused suspicion in the surveys.
The first suspect case was the sudden increase in the price of a brand of tissues sold at a hypermarket from NT$149 per pack in March to NT$176 per pack last month, which will be reported to the Fair Trade Commission for further examination.
The second case was a brand of eggs that remained at the same price of NT$57 a box for 16 months, with only one promotional price of NT$54 in June last year.
Liu said it was suspected that the lengthy sales promotion was used to deceive consumers about its original price.
“It’s like a store attracting consumers who seek a good bargain by claiming it is having a clearance sale, but the store is still there after two years, and the promotional price is actually the original price,” Su said.
The third case concerned whether the slightly reduced price of milk powder (an average price drop of between 0.1 percent and 1.8 percent between March and last month) was in line with the reduction on import duties on milk powder from 5 percent to 2.5 percent, Su said.
Commission Deputy Director-General Wu Cheng-hsueh (吳政學) said that although the survey results of the commission and the foundation showed similar patterns of roughly stable prices, consumers should compare prices of the same commodity between brands when shopping instead of always relying on the same brands, to save more money.
The commission has a toll-free line, 0800-007-007 for the public to report price gouging, while the Consumers’ Foundation welcomes such reports on its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/price0601.
Additional reporting by CNA