World consumer rights day – March 15 -Consumers call for more justice on their day


15-March-2013


Consumers International (CI), the body which brings together consumer organisations worldwide, is urging its members and supporters to use the occasion to expose the very real damage caused by poor or non-existent consumer protection around the world.

Whether it is faulty products causing injury, utility service providers ignoring consumers’ complaints, merchants who overcharge and dupe consumers through misleading promotions or irresponsible lending by banks, better consumer protection is always part of the solution, CI says.

The theme has also been chosen to coincide with the update of the United Nations guidelines on consumer protection (UNGCP). CI will be working with its members to feed in proposals on how the guidelines can better address the concerns of today's consumers.

The UNCGP, first agreed in 1985 and last updated in 1999, is an international reference point for the consumer rights movement.
Here in Seychelles consumers are not being spared from abuses. With the recent liberalisation of the economy where the flow of goods and services in the country has increased drastically, consumers have been easily duped by dishonest merchants and service providers.

The executive chairperson of the National Consumers’ Forum (Natcof), Raymonde Course, said the laws and regulations in place to protect consumers from abuse are regrettably not strong enough and are not adequately reinforced to give consumers the protection and address their concerns as and when required.

She noted that the Consumer Protection Act needs to be reviewed to breach gaps and loopholes so as to make it stronger and relevant to better protect consumers.

Consumers should always educate themselves so as to make informed choices

“Consumers are very vulnerable people who often do not have enough time and money to defend their rights in court and it is for this reason that Natcof believes there should be mechanisms in place to quickly deal with consumer abuse cases and complaints,” said Mrs Course.

She said the best solution though remains effective consumer education to ensure consumers avoid falling prey to unpleasant and frustrating situations.
This is why to mark consumers’ rights day, today, Natcof is having information desks around Victoria to continue educating consumers on their rights and responsibilities.

Information desks will be placed at the Orion Mall, Independence House, Codevar and Market Street. Information leaflets will be readily available to consumers and those wishing to have more information, Natcof volunteers will be on hand to answer their queries.

“Natcof is there to defend and protect the rights of consumers, but consumers also have to help themselves by being better informed at all times,” Mrs Course stressed.
She further added that consumers need to come together in solidarity to protect their interests.

Her message to consumers is: “Do not let yourselves suffer abuse before seeking advice and information but to always educate yourselves in order to make informed choices.”

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