Vendors bilk mourners, raise black clothes prices
A RANDOM inspection found over 100 vendors in Bangkok have marked up the prices of black clothes during the mourning period for the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Department of Internal Trade (DIT) director general Nuntawan Sakuntanaga said on October 24.
The inspection was conducted after the department received a number of complaints about black clothing being sold at high prices.
Ms Nuntawan said the inspection found more than 100 clothes vendors were exploiting the situation by selling black clothing at more than twice their price, particularly T-shirts with prices jumping from around 200 baht (US$8) to 500 baht ($19) each, over the past 10 days.
She said most of the items also did not have price tags, which is stipulated by law.
Ms Nuntawan said warnings have been issued to the vendors. If they continue to fail to comply with laws and regulations, legal action would be brought against them.
Consumers who come across overpriced black clothing may file complaints with the DIT, she added.
After a recent surge in such complaints, the department also deployed more staff to conduct inspections in several provinces, she added.
Meanwhile, commerce permanent secretary Wiboonlasana Ruamraksa yesterday said she instructed the DIT to conduct a random inspection at Chatuchak Market in Bangkok on Sunday. According to the inspection, out of 1200 clothes vending stalls, 19 were fined for allegedly failing to provide price tags.
She said prices of black and white clothes at the market would vary according to the quality of the fabric. Regular T-shirts should be sold at 60-150 baht each, while consumers can expect to pay 179-280 baht each for polo shirts and 199-300 baht each for long-sleeved T-shirts, Ms Wiboonlasana said. The ministry has also asked for cooperation from the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), which rents out land plots to vendors at the market, to help communicate warnings to shoppers, she said.
As for a mourning event for the late king jointly organised by the DIT and clothes manufacturers to give away black clothes to people nationwide, Ms Wiboonlasana said the private sector can’t yet produce enough black clothing to meet demand.
However, the problem should ease in a few days as many products are expected to arrive next week, she said.
The department also worked with Tesco Lotus to give away 55,000 black T-shirts at its 109 branches across the country. Tesco Lotus corporate affairs director Salinla Seehaphan yesterday said the event was first launched yesterday at nine branches in Bangkok.
The project will be expanded to 40 branches in other provinces on November 4 and then to 60 more branches on November 11, Ms Salinla said.
Many shoppers waited in line at Tesco Lotus’ Rama IV branch to receive a free T-shirt. Queue cards had to be distributed because too many people showed up.
A crowd of mourners wears black in Thailand, where vendors are upcharging those seeking black T-shirts.