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School uniform policy unfair, say parents

PARENTS are concerned they are being left out of pocket because of schools that allow just one retailer to sell their school uniform.

Last year the Competition Authority tried to address this problem by asking schools to drop their exclusive retailer policy, but it seems some schools failed to do so.

Option

An investigation by the authority this year showed that some schools are still sticking to their one-store policy leaving parents with no options for value.

The Competition Authority has received dozens of complaints from families around the country as they geared up for the start of a new term this year.

Parents were complaining that they had no option but to buy uniforms from just a sole retailer.

School jumpers can cost around €50 in some instances.

"This crops up every year," a spokesperson from the National Consumer Agency told the Herald.

"We get complaints from parents every year who are forced to shop in one store and have no options for pricing," she continued.

The number of parents complaining about restricted choice in uniform shopping have climbed since the recession according to the body.

"Historically a lot of schools have had these arrangements but now with the recession this is an area that people like to be able to shop around for value," she said.

"It seems to be on people's radar a lot more now," she continued.

Schools are not under any obligation to use more than one shop to sell uniforms but the competition authority strongly recommends that they consider using more than one shop.

"This is something that is certainly not confined to private schools or to just secondary schools," the spokesperson said.

Complaint

This year a public school in Dublin was approached by a retailer who wished to sell uniforms on the school's behalf. The school's uniform had previously just been available in one outlet.

He lodged a complaint with the competition authority when the manufacturer refused to supply the uniform to him.

After an investigation it was deemed that the set-up was a monopoly concern.

hnews@herald.ie


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