Consumer exploitation

The recent recommendation by the Consumer Unity Trust Society (CUTS) coordinator Angela Mulenga to Zambia Competition Commission to “punish those flouting trading practices” published in Business Post of November 30 is highly welcome.

For a long time now, consumers in Zambia have been massively exploited. Huge posters saying ‘No Refund, No Return’ hang on the walls of most supermarkets and shopping outlets, especially those run by Asian traders. In fact, some supermarkets and retail outlets even feel as if they are actually doing a favour when serving customers!

This practice is a clear violation of consumer rights and is just the same as theft because it robs people of their hard-earned income when they are not allowed a return or are not refunded on a defective product. No wonder there has been an increase in the sale of expired and defective products in the country.

I therefore urge all consumers out there to always demand a receipt for every purchase you make. This way, you will have evidence that you bought a product from a particular outlet should there be a problem.

You will also know how much tax (VAT) you are paying for that product. Furthermore, you will have a claim if the product is defective or expired.I further urge all consumers to promptly return any expired or defective product for a good one or demand a refund. It is your consumer right! Consequences of buying expired drugs or defective electrical equipment could be fatal, so please take this seriously.

By taking action, you will contribute to the improvement of quality of goods and services.

To institutions concerned with consumer protection such as ZCC, Zambia Bureau of Standards, please establish offices where consumers can come to complain. Make public the information on punishment measures for traders involved in such practices and publish the consumer rights so that consumers know where to go for help in case of infringement.

Remember, bad practices can only prevail when stakeholders and facilitators do nothing.

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