Personal Finance

Enhance laws that protect the rights of consumers

Consumers have the right to access goods and services that are of a reasonable quality. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Consumers have the right to access goods and services that are of a reasonable quality. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

All businesses interface with customers, whether it is in the service or products industry. The consumer is the end user. There is a common phrase that says “the customer is always right or the customer is your boss.”

This is true to a very large extent. Larger corporations have a customer care department whose main role is to ensure that the consumer is well taken care of and that complaints are handled in a professional manner.

Every business no matter its size must have a customer care policy. Customers should freely interact with your business and be able to lodge complaints easily.

Your business should ensure it has a sound customer care policy and have at least designate officers to handle complaints.

It will automatically be held liable in the event of a breach of any of the rights mentioned.

It does not matter what your in-house procedures are. The Constitution is the supreme law and no other law or regulation can contravene it.
The Constitution will always take precedence in the event of a conflict.

It says that consumers have the right to access goods and services that are of a reasonable quality. As a business owner, ensure that your manufacturing department is aware of the need for quality.

Also ensure that quality control mechanisms are put in place because the days of producing low quality goods or services are gone.

The law also says that consumers must have all information about the goods and services they are buying. This relates to issues such as pricing, ingredients and any other information required.

However the law limits this to necessary information. Read together with Article 35 on the right to information, your business must try as much as possible to make full disclosure of the end product.

The Constitution finally states that an aggrieved consumer is entitled to compensation for defects in goods and services. This means that if your product is found to be defective then the consumer can recover against your business.

Work together with other departments to streamline all procedures and systems to these provisions. The Consumer Act on the other hand is more detailed and was enacted pursuant to Article 46 of the Constitution.

Consumers have been categorically protected under this law. Buyers of real estate products, banking services, and Internet have specifically been protected under various parts of this law.

If your business is in any of these sectors it would be good to acquaint yourself with the new law.

Manufacturers will also be affected and so will service providers and it is important to get a copy of these regulations, especially since it provides that in the event of ambiguity in the interpretation of a contract, the law will tilt in favour of the consumer.

The third law that is already in operation and that guarantees consumer welfare if enhanced, is the Competition Act enacted last year. Part VI sets out various offences against consumer’s interests. Some offences set out include false representations that would entice a consumer to buy a goods or service.