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Council receives complaints worth $1.6m

 

Aug 03, 2015 04:05:49 PM

Council receives complaints worth $1.6m The Consumer Council of Fiji recorded a total of 803 complaints worth around $1.6 million in the last six months.

Council chief executive Premila Kumar said an average of 134 complaints per month was filed with them and they have successfully managed to give back $0.5 million to the consumers by resolving 620 complaints through robust mediation.

“Consumers were ‘let down’ on a number of fronts, among which electronic goods, mobile products, landlord/tenancy, food & drinks and hardware make the top five complaints in the period, 1 January 2015 to 30 June 2015.”

“In absence of the necessary standards in place to safeguard consumers against shoddy and counterfeit products, poor quality and counterfeit electronic goods and mobile products will remain a problem among the Fijian consumers.”

“Our local markets are flooded with electronic goods and gadgets, available at knock-down prices, which are repackaged, refurbished or are counterfeits of the original brands. 107 complaints related to electronic goods, mostly home brands were recorded in the six monthly period, with aggrieved consumers crying foul over the after-sale service offered to them by the retail outlets.”

She said  in a number of these cases, consumers have experienced non - availability of spare parts, no backup service, the run-around to get the newly-purchased item fixed and no sense of care to explain the terms and conditions of the agreement.

“Long waiting period to get the faulty items repaired or replaced remains a dilemma for the consumers. In some cases, consumers have waited 6 to 8 months to get back their item from the traders who had taken the item for repairs. Then, there are cases where retail outlets end up repairing the items 3 to 6 times, not having proper back up service.”

The Council’s market surveillance reveals that some of these electronic goods are reconditioned to be as good as new.

“Consumers don’t have the know – how to find out which item is refurbished and which is a new brand – it goes beyond just checking for dents and functionality. Hence, traders must provide full disclosures about the items. The upsurge of consumer complaints related to mobile phone handsets and gadgets have been in the public eye for a while now.”

“With 88 complaints filed just in the last six months, consumers continue to be duped with fake, counterfeit and refurbished products. Like electronic goods, these products come with no spare parts, no up to date back –up service, low quality battery and charger, screen instruction appearing on the phone turns into a foreign (Chinese) language.”

“The warranty terms and conditions are printed in very fine prints. Some mobile phone outlets which are born over-night in the corner streets of our towns and cities hardly bother to provide full disclosures about the products, let alone, provide warranty terms and condition to the consumers.”

With mid-year sale and discounts and the Hibiscus festivity next month, the Council envisages an increase in complaints relating to mobile phone handsets/gadgets and electronic goods.

Some traders would try to clear their old stock, near-expiring food items and other products; therefore, the Council is urging consumers to exercise vigilance and prudence.

By Reginald Chandar

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