Thursday, July 10, 2014

Govt set to review consumer standards contracts

The government has said it is set to review regulations that govern consumer standard forms contracts in order to protect the rights of its people.

Speaking to this paper at the 38th Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF) Joshua Msoma, Senior Consumer Protection Officer at the Fair Competition Commission (FCC) said the exercise will be carried out soon after the Industry and Trade minister has endorsed the regulations.

He said once reviewed, the forms would protect the consumers against the violations they encounter when purchasing goods and services. “There are some businessmen who tell their consumers that goods once sold they are not returnable. This is absolutely not fair," he said.

According to him, consumers have the right to question or get from the seller anything they purchase without any restrictions. Consumer protection is derived from articles 11, 14 and 18 of the Constitution of Tanzania, 1977 which recognize consumers’ rights and their protection roles.

There are legislation enacted to serve various matters but also protect the consumers, he said. He mentioned them as the Fair Competition Act 2003, Merchandise Marks Act 1963, Standards Act 1975, Weights and Measures Act 1982, Occupational Health and Safety and the Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act 2003. The FCC official said the consumer is obliged to understand the Fair Competition Act and how it can help him in pursuing their rights and remedies.

He urged consumers to be alert and question the price and quality of goods and services availed to ensure that they are fairly treated in business transactions.

Msoma said consumers need to search and use available information before any purchase to ensure they always make informed and responsible decisions pertaining to their choice of goods and services. He added that they have to fight for quality through effective complaints and refuse to accept shoddy workmanship.

According to him, there are a number of consumer protections provision in the Fair Completion Act which need to be adhered to. Some of them are protection against price fixing, output restrictions and collective boycotts between competitors, which might affect their rights.

According to Benard Elia Kihiyo, a consumer activist, the government in collaboration with consumer advocacy organizations must educate the public on consumers’ rights which are awfully low. He said such a campaign should be conducted in primary and secondary schools because students are rightly placed to deliver the message to other people on the rights of consumers, including policy makers.

Kihiyo, who is also the executive director of Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) said few years ago the organization conducted a survey in five regions which showed that the level of awareness of consumers’ rights in Tanzania was very low. Dar es Salaam, which is the most populous urban area, he said, is leading in lack of the consumers’ rights awareness.

“We believe these campaigns, will increase consumers’ understanding of their rights and will build their ability to claim for them,” he noted. “On the other hand, their efforts will make their voices to be heard, and because there will be high awareness among them, this would attract responsiveness on their needs and interests,” he said.
Source; The Guardian 

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