Consumer rights

June 09, 2013

You buy an expensive watch for your wife as a birthday gift. Two months later the polish of the gold plated watch starts to fade. What should you do? Should you ignore it as normal wear and tear or should you take the trouble of going back to the store asking for a replacement? Is the watch still covered under warranty? Are you aware of the minimum warranties that you are entitled to by law?

The pretty cotton dress you bought, has given you a rash. When you check the label, you notice that it’s not made from 100 per cent cotton, as advertised on the outer packing of the dress when you purchased it.

Instead, it is made of synthetic materials. Do you have the right to return the dress on the basis that you did not get what you had paid for?

These are some of the real time issues that consumers face every day. In rapidly changing business environment and emerging global markets, expectations of people of a country for better services, quality goods, availability of choices and value for money is continuously rising.
Accordingly, governments undertake several policy initiatives, schemes and incentives to promote consumer welfare in a country.

To protect a consumer against unfair trade practices, consumer protection laws are framed in most jurisdictions to safeguard the interests of not only a consumer but the manufacturers and traders as well. It thus, becomes important for us to familiarise ourselves with the basic rights which we as consumers enjoy, and the duties and responsibilities of a manufacturer, seller or service provider under the applicable consumer protection laws. Oman has a robust mechanism in place to safeguard its people from being cheated by manufacturers, suppliers and service providers. In addition to the law and regulations there exists an independent authority for protection of consumer rights, i e, the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP).

I am sure everyone must already be aware of the PACP’s pro-active role in achieving its objectives and implementation of the law by safeguarding the interests of the public at large including individual consumers.

To bridge the gap between the PACP and the consumers, a smartphone application has been developed by the PACP. This application is one of the channels through which consumers can submit their complaints or views to the PACP.

As a consumer you have the basic rights provided to you by law some of which include a right to receive authentic and high quality services or products, not to be deceived as to the nature, source, ingredients, benefits, components of a product or a service, not to be refused return of goods (excluding perishable products) within ten days from their purchase, to be provided with a receipt of purchase, to enforce the terms of an existing warranty or maintenance agreement and not to be charged a higher price than advertised.

Next time you go out shopping or avail of a service, remember your rights as a consumer and if you find that you are being deceived or being misled, you have a right to submit a complaint against any unfair trade practices with the PACP with a click of a few buttons on your smartphone!