BUSINESS NEWS
August 14, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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Fiji’s Consumer Council has issued a warning to duty free shop owners to be more responsible.

The warning follows the increase in the number of complaints on faulty products sold at the duty free shops in the first six months of 2012 when compared to the whole of last year.

Eleven complaints were registered in 2011 while a total of 13 complaints have been noted as of July this year.

Faulty mobile products top the complaints list on issues such as keypads not working within one week of purchase, handset switching off by itself, tradercharging for repair and courier costs of faulty phone, phone speaker developing faults within 10 days of purchase, traders selling fake Nokia mobile handset with packaging stating ‘Made by Dickson International Trading Co, Ltd’, traders deducting VAT and other administration cost while providing refund for faulty mobile phone.

Council’s chief executive Premila Kumar said the call is aimed at shops in the Western division.

The Council reminds traders that the Sales of Goods Act [Cap 230] (Fiji), which states that goods sold must be fit for the purpose, must be adhered.

Kumar said section 114 of Commerce Commission Decree 2010 (Fiji) clearly states that goods sold must be of merchantable quality.

“A trader is liable to provide redress to the consumers if this provision is breached rather than burdening the consumer with any additional charges.”

She said out of 13 complaints received, traders provided redress to 8 complaints after the Council’s intervention.

The unresolved cases were referred to other consumer protection agencies and Small Claims Tribunal.

She said it is a common practice for duty free shops to be rude and aggressive when consumers seek redress.

“This attitude must stop.”

Most of the duty free shops also fail to issue receipts for the items they are selling. Thenon–issuance of receipt is a direct breach of Regulation 7 as per section 84 of the Value added Tax Decree 1991: “(7) Notwithstanding any other regulation, a supplier shall not unless requested by therecipient be required to provide a tax invoice if the consideration in money for a supplydoes not exceed ten dollars or such amount as the Minister may from time to time, byLegal Notice declare”.

The Council is advising consumers to be careful while shopping for itemsespecially mobile phones from duty free gift shops in the Western Division. Consumers are advised to demand for receipts and understand the terms and conditions including the warranty period

When approached, Dickson’s Suva shop manager Ashana Prasad told FijiLive that the company owner is away overseas.

Commerce Commission chairman, Mahendra Reddy said luring and misleading people to purchase defected products is a serious offence.

"People found to be engaging in this sort of business transaction are not fined but their cases are filed with court for prosecution."

By Ropate Valemei

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