Nationwide consumer boycott

Representatives of consumer organizations from all over the country met in Athens over the weekend and worked out details for the unprecedented national consumer boycott that will be held tomorrow. The boycott is in protest at price hikes that have been seen as unjustified, with consumers claiming that the switch to the euro had allowed merchants to increase prices excessively. The Institute of Consumer Protection (INKA) has called on people not to buy products or services tomorrow. It also appealed for people to turn off their electricity supply at their homes, offices and businesses for two minutes at 10 p.m., while also avoiding making telephone calls for those two minutes. Representatives of street markets said that they, in response, would not offer their wares tomorrow or Wednesday. The consumer protest is billed as a «warning boycott.» The government too has expressed concern that an increase in inflation will harm competitiveness. It warned merchants that it would unleash the financial crimes squad to keep an eye on price hikes, and officials even said they would draw up a black list of companies raising prices without justification. Although they backed down, consumer unions are aiming to compile their own lists of companies. A list published by INKA on Saturday showed that complaints over high prices had leaped to the number one slot of consumers’ peeves, with 10,104 complaints in the first eight months of this year, up from 4th place in the same period last year. High prices (11.9 percent of complaints) replaced food quality (8.94 percent) as the most frequently mentioned complaint. In third place are complaints related to the tourism and entertainment sector, INKA said.

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