Don Mueang check finds product prices still sky-high

Don Mueang check finds product prices still sky-high

Ombudsman Gen Viddhavat Rajatanun holds a soft drink for sale at Don Mueang airport. At least the price is clearly marked. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)
Ombudsman Gen Viddhavat Rajatanun holds a soft drink for sale at Don Mueang airport. At least the price is clearly marked. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

Food and beverages sold at Don Mueang airport remain overpriced, at 40% to 200% higher than standard prices, the Office of the Ombudsman revealed after a fresh round of inspections Tuesday.

A previous inspection of products sold at Don Mueang airport by the Office of the Ombudsman, along with the Department of Internal Trade (DIT), conducted last month found food and drinks were priced between 85% and 200% higher than their usual rates, said ombudsman Viddhavat Rajatanun.

He was speaking after Tuesday's visit to the airport for a follow-up on the pricing situation.

The vendors and the airport management had been told to keep prices close to what is charged at leading department stores, or at most about 20% higher than standard prices.

Following the first inspection on March 22, the Airports of Thailand (AoT) Co agreed at a meeting with the Office of the Consumer Protection Board (OCPB) and the DIT to cap food and beverage prices in the airport at no more than 20% higher than prices elsewhere, said Gen Viddhavat.

The AoT agreed to follow the resolution to lower prices of food and drinks from April 10.

However, after the inspection, the AoT said it still could not bring the prices down because it is bound by contracts with food and beverage vendors who had paid high bidding prices, he said.

"So, the AoT and the DIT are now required to jointly carry out a study to determine the prices to be allowed in line with the contracts signed between the vendors and the AoT.

"After that, anyone caught selling overpriced food and beverages will face tough punishment," he said.

At the same time, the Office of the Ombudsman will review the contracts the AoT has claimed to be a major obstacle in lowering food and beverage prices, he said.

The ombudsman's office expects to complete its inspection of all contracts by the end of next month, he said.

In the meantime, the office has asked the DIT to invoke the Product and Service Prices Act to deal with vendors at Don Mueang airport who sell products at unreasonably high prices, he said.

Under this law, any vendor who fails to clearly display the price list of products may face a fine of up to 10,000 baht. Vendors who intentionally sell products at unreasonably high prices may face up to seven years in jail and a maximum fine of 140,000 baht.

Phech Chancharoen, director of Don Mueang airport, said the high product prices at the airport involved several factors and the AoT could not simply instruct the vendors to cut prices immediately.

He said the airport had tried to solve the problem by offering food and beverages at reasonable prices at its food court.

The price inspection team now plans to expand its inspection to cover Suvarnabhumi airport as well. The inspection began at Don Mueang first because it serves as an airport for low-cost airlines.

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