Fiji Labour Party is calling on the government to put a stop to,
and investigate, the scandalous abuse of Help for Homes swipe
cards by hardware companies.
Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry who is in Ba today said he was appalled to see how three hardware companies, RC Manubhai, Vinod Patel and Carpenters, were taking unfair advantage of the system by offering cash back to card holders.
“What they are doing is not only unlawful, it is downright unscrupulous,” Mr Chaudhry said.
These hardware companies have set up booths in schools where cards are being issued. They grab the cardholders as soon as they receive their cards and offer them some cash back in return for dealing with them.
“A $1500 card receives a cash back of $60, $3000 card holder gets $120 and those with $7000 cards receive $300 in cash. Carpenters gives out food vouchers instead of cash. This is clearly defrauding the system.
“Moreover, it is well known that hardware companies have run out of building materials. But the card is swiped for the full amount it holds. Card holders are then issued invoices with the assurance that they can retrieve the materials later when stocks arrive.
“The card holders are made to run from pillar to post over the ensuing weeks because the merchants do not have the items in stock. In some cases, they offer other goods, non-building materials, in exchange for the money,” Mr Chaudhry said.
Mr. Chaudhry said card holders are also complaining that these hardware companies were over-charging them for the goods. The prices were higher than those provided in the list put out initially.
“This is clearly a scam and we call for a full investigation into this malpractice. Hapless victims of the cyclone are being bribed by offers of cash and taken undue advantage of. Money is being taken but goods are not supplied. And on occasions, goods other than building supplies are being sold in exchange,” said Mr Chaudhry.
“Government passed legislation in April to penalise card holders who abuse the system by making false claims. Well, it must now investigate these companies and they must be prosecuted, if found guilty of malpractice,” he said.