Sunday, December 2, 2007

Government still plays little role in consumer rights

Article about Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society
On The Business Times-Tanzania;
Published on; Friday Nov 9, 2007 Page 9
By Eric Toroka -
MORE than 50 years have elapsed since the United Nations announced the Universal Declaration of consumer’s rights sadly; however, some rights continue to be abused in Tanzania including consumer’s rights, the Tanzania Consumers Advocacy society (TCAS) has said.
The TCAS executive director Bernard Kihiyo says apart from all the efforts to enact new Acts for consumer protection in Tanzania, yet consumer rights continue to be ignored or trivialized by government, producers and other powerful interests.

There is very low level of consumer awareness on their rights in Tanzania as you can see the presence of a lot of counterfeit products in Tanzania market believed to be more 40% of all goods in the market, this is terrible, he insisted.

Kihiyo says consumer Rights have their origin in former US President John F. Kennedy's declaration of four basic consumer rights, four originated by Consumer International (CI) and two from Consumer Unity & Trust Society of India (CUTS).

Kennedy said in his March 15, 1962 declaration to the US Congress; '’Consumers are the largest economic group, affecting and affected by almost every public and private economic decision. Yet they are the only important group... whose views are often not heard.’'

TCAS would like to raise consumer’s awareness on their rights. Only knowledgeable and alert consumers aware of their rights and responsibilities can protect themselves effectively. Kihiyo explains.

The need of the hour is, therefore, to educate the common consumers particularly both in rural and urban areas who are more susceptible to this mess.

There are 8 consumer rights namely… the right to satisfaction of basic needs – consumer has the right to access to basic, essential goods and services: adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water and sanitation.
The right to safety – consumer has the right to be protected against products, production processes and services which are hazardous to health or life, the purchased goods and services availed of should not only meet their immediate needs, but also fulfil long term interests.
Before purchasing, consumers should insist on the quality of the products as well as on the guarantee of the products and services; Kihiyo explained.
The right to be informed - consumer has the right to be given the facts needed to make an informed choice, and to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising and labelling.
Consumer should insist on getting all the information about the product or service before making a choice or a decision. This will enable him to act wisely and responsibly and also enable him to desist from falling prey to high pressure selling techniques.
The right to choose - consumer has the right to be able to select from a range of products and services, offered at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.
It also includes right to basic goods and services. This is because unrestricted right of the minority to choose can mean a denial for the majority of its fair share. This right can be better exercised in a competitive market where a variety of goods are available at competitive prices. He explained.
The right to be heard - consumer has the right to be heard, that consumer interests represented in the making and execution of government policy, and in the development of products and services.
Means that consumer's interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums. It also includes right to be represented in various forums formed to consider the consumer's welfare.
The Consumers should form non-political and non-commercial consumer organizations which can be given representation in various committees formed by the Government and other bodies in matters relating to consumers.
The right to redress - To receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services Means right to seek redressal against unfair trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers.
It also includes right to fair settlement of the genuine grievances of the consumer.
Consumers must make complaint for their genuine grievances. In many cases their complaint may be of small value but its impact on the society as a whole may be very large. They can also take the help of consumer organisation like TCAS he insisted.
The right to consumer education - consumer has the right to acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.
This means the right to acquire the knowledge and skill to be an informed consumer throughout consumer’s life; Ignorance of consumers is mainly responsible for their exploitation. They should know their rights and must exercise them. Only then real consumer protection can be achieved with success, Mr. Kihiyo explains.
The right to a healthy environment -To live and work in an environment which is non-threatening to the well-being of present and future generations
There are two new consumer’s rights that originated from CUTS of India; these include; - The right to boycott - consumer has the right to resist and boycott any person, goods or services in the event of conflict with consumer's interest, high prices, poor quality and many other misleading information. He explains.
The right of opportunity - consumer has the right to opportunities to acquire basic needs which will enable one to work and to earn a living, without exploitation
Whereas consumers have got rights, they too have obligations to fulfil.
Their obligations and responsibilities include prompt payment of bills, having critical awareness on his/her rights and ensuring that utilization of goods or services is not in a manner hazardous to the environment or other users and they are obliged to respect contracts, He explains.

Education is a life long process of constantly acquiring relevant information, knowledge and skills. Consumer education is an important part of this process and is a basic consumer right that must be insisted to the general public and introduced at the school and college level. Kihiyo advises.

We believe this campaign will increase consumer’s understanding on their rights, will build consumer’s ability to claim for their rights. On the other hand the effort will make their voices to be heard, and because there will be high awareness amongst consumers therefore will make markets more accountable and responsive to consumers’ needs and interests.

3 comments:

  1. I like your blog it is very interesting. We have to file complaint when we feel something wrong with the product or service on the customer service. Just to give feedback to the company so that they will give guarantee on customer. Here for what I have been search I found a website that provides information on consumer issues - Consumer Advocacy

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  2. Consumer Protection

    The GOT has made progress in formulating policies and effective laws to foster competition. Tanzania has enacted three laws to govern competition and regulate economic activity: the Fair Trade Practices Act 1994, the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Act (EWURA) 2001, and the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Act (SUMATRA) 2001. The GOT is expediting the implementation of a Competition Law under the coordination of the Fair Commission for Trade and related regulatory institutions and promotes consumer protection through broad-based public awareness on consumer’s rights and obligations.But still there is no protection (in a real sense) of a consumer.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Consumer Protection

    The GOT has made progress in formulating policies and effective laws to foster competition. Tanzania has enacted three laws to govern competition and regulate economic activity: the Fair Trade Practices Act 1994, the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Act (EWURA) 2001, and the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Act (SUMATRA) 2001. The GOT is expediting the implementation of a Competition Law under the coordination of the Fair Commission for Trade and related regulatory institutions and promotes consumer protection through broad-based public awareness on consumer’s rights and obligations.

    ReplyDelete