Vietnam's resort towns crack down on price gouging

By Thuy Vi, Thanh Nien News

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Tourists walk by a board listing officials' hotlines at Sam Son beach in Thanh Hoa Province. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre Tourists walk by a board listing officials' hotlines at Sam Son beach in Thanh Hoa Province. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre

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The northern resort town of Sam Son has fined two people for charging customers beyond their listed prices.
The municipal authorities in the Thanh Hoa Province town say they've fined Nguyen Thi Nga, the owner of a local pho shop, VND12.5 million (nearly US$600) for overcharging VND5,000 or 14 percent of the restaurant's listed price for a bowl, and Nguyen Van Tien VND15 million for charging cars 50 percent more than his listed price of VND20,000.
Tien was also asked to return the extra money to his customers, most of whom are regulars.
In an attempt to prepare for the summertime tourism rush, famous resort towns have required businesses to register and list their prices. Those caught straying from those registered prices face fines and public censure. 
 
SAM SON HOTLINES
 
Trinh Huy Trieu, chairman of Sam Son town: 0946353000
Le Ngoc Chien, Sam Son police chief: 01234779999
Le Thanh Dong, director of Sam Son General Hospital: 0913017836
Nguyen Huy Binh, senior market manager: 0988480999
Sam Son beach rescue team: 0988595763
Sam Son’s 113 police unit: 03 73821407 – 0919580789

Sam Son authorities have posted telephone numbers to the town’s officials and police, Tuoi Tre reported.
Trinh Huy Trieu, the town chairman, said that depending on the degree of the price inflations, the authorities may opt to publish the names of the violators in local media.
Repeated violations may lead to the suspension or revocation of a business license.
Le Van Truong, a tourist from Hanoi, says he feels more comfortable now that all of the prices have been made official and displayed in most public places.
“Tourists in Sam Son used to always worry about getting ripped-off.”
In the southern beach town of Vung Tau, near Ho Chi Minh City, most restaurants list their prices after a number of providers began punishing scalpers and publishing their names in the local media.
Bui Van Trang who runs a restaurant at 36 Tran Hung Dao Street, has fixed most of her prices and leaves the cost of a number of fresh seafood items “flexible depending on the season.”
Trang said nothing attracts and keeps customers better than fair and transparent prices.
Truong Thi Huong, the town’s vice chairman, said restaurants have been required to register their prices with the authorities and publish them for their customers.
Huong said higher prices mean restaurants must pay higher taxes.
She said some of the blacklisted restaurants have closed due to severe loss of customers; others have improved their services.

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