Child safety seat price-fixing probed

Child safety seat price-fixing probed

Vendors warned not to abuse new law

The Commerce Ministry has ordered an investigation into complaints that some vendors have marked up prices of child booster seats for cars following an announcement of a new regulation that will make them mandatory.

Deputy Prime Minister and Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said on Thursday that the ministry has ordered the Department of Internal Trade (DIT) to look into the matter and resolve it.

The department recently met with related parties including retail store representatives, wholesale traders and online platforms to inform them that current prices must be maintained unless they get DIT approval.

The DIT also asked wholesale traders such as Makro, Lotus and Big C superstores to import affordable seats so as to provide more product choices for consumers, Mr Jurin said.

An amended Land Traffic Act was published in the Royal Gazette on May 7 which included Section 123 that stipulated children under six years old or children whose height is below 135 centimetres must be restrained in a car seat, a booster seat or by other safety measures in a moving vehicle.

The enforcement will take effect within 120 days or on Sept 5. The requirement is to minimise injuries suffered by children travelling in vehicles in the event of road accidents.

Mr Jurin said a rough survey by provincial offices of the ministry found that booster seat prices vary from 1,500 baht to 30,000 baht depending on quality.

"If we find that some vendors take this opportunity to raise the price of booster seats, we will file a complaint with police to charge them under Section 29 of the Price of Goods and Services Act BE 2542," he said.

The law states that business operators shall not carry out an act with the deliberate intention to set unreasonably high prices or cause the fluctuation of prices of any goods. Offenders can face a jail term of up to seven years and a fine of up to 140,000 baht.

A Facebook page for "Happy Mommy Arpan" posted a comment about how the account holder wanted to purchase a booster seat -- she said the price was 6,300 baht several days ago but the price jumped to 8,900 baht yesterday.

She said she agreed with the new safety regulation but the government should reduce import taxes on booster seats so to help parents out.

The Mirror Foundation said via Facebook that a Suan Kru Angoon charity shop in Soi Thong Lor 3 offered donated seats at prices ranging from 300-500 baht. The charity said people who wanted to donate old seats could take them to its premises in Soi Vibhavadi 62 where they will be resold.

Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said having booster seats is a must for children's safety.

He said 1,155 children -- newborn babies up to six years old -- died in road accidents between 2017 and 2021.

During 2019-2021, Public Health Ministry records show that most of the children who died in car accidents were not in a booster seat, Dr Opas said.

Such seats can reduce the chance of death among infants and small children by 70%, he added.

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