Thanh Nien Daily, Vietnam, November 24, 2008
Local buyers need to collect evidence and officially report their complaints if they want to challenge businesses that rip people off, said consumer advocates.
General Secretary of the Vietnam Standards and Consumers Association Do Gia Phan said local consumers have rights; they are just unaware of them.
The group’s deputy chairman Ho Tat Thang said his association can file lawsuits against companies that employ unfair practices but greedy and irresponsible traders are rarely brought to court because consumers who complain about getting cheated fail to provide even the simplest of evidence, such as a receipt. He added that Vietnam had laws that could force firms to compensate consumers they swindle by overcharging, mislabelling or selling counterfeit goods but the association couldn’t spend time chasing lawsuits without evidence.
Thang said unfair trade practices were rife throughout nearly all sectors in Vietnam. The association estimated the average consumer lost between 8 to 10 percent of the value of their purchases so far this year due to unfair practices.
“No group of consumers has ever been hurt by unfair trade practices as much as Vietnamese customers have been recently,” said former general director of Competition Administration Department Dinh Thi My Loan.
George Cheriyan, director of the India-based non-profit organization Consumer Unity & Trust Society, International, said Vietnam should learn from India, which effectively enforces its Consumer Protection Act and National Consumer Disputes Redress Commission through special forums akin to special courts.
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