Consumer Forum: Donating to the unknown

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Consumer Forum: Donating to the unknown

DED says illegitimate charity boxes at trading establishments exploit do-gooders

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Published: Wed 18 Sep 2013, 9:20 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 3:46 AM

A number of trading establishments have been found placing fundraising boxes on their premises for unknown organisations. The Department of Economic Development in Dubai (DED) is concerned since thus is a way of exploiting people to donate money without knowing where the donation goes or for what purpose funds are used.

While conducting daily visits to trade establishments to ensure they are operating in accordance with the conditions on economic activities set in their trade licences, inspectors of the field control unit of DED have noted these concerns.

Accordingly, the erring establishments have been informed to follow the instructions and conditions enforced by the department as well as the competent authorities regarding the said charity collection boxes. Director of the Field Control Unit Hassan Bonfor said: “The owner of the trading establishment is responsible for the commodities, machinery and products in the shop, as well as the posters, advertisements and other matters related to the store.

“We had reported the violations against these stores for organisational and security reasons, and to prohibit exploiting people, as such boxes are of unknown sources, so how could we know where the donated money goes, and for what purpose they are being used.”

He urged traders to obtain permits for installing such donation boxes, machinery, tools and other manual equipment and electronics from the competent authorities, including ATM machines and machines in which coins are used.

“Placing the charity boxes in trading centres to collect charity for an unknown body is against the law, especially if the donations are collected for illegal purposes, or goes to untitled persons.”

Bonfor called upon consumers to donate money only to known charities in the country, which usually place their charity boxes in shopping malls, on shop counters and markets, “which are familiar to all of us”.

A charity giver should ascertain of the body to which he is going to pass on his donation. If a contributor has suspected something wrong, he/she should ask and inquire about the body behind that charity box, and then report the official bodies for verification.

“Collecting charity is subject to lawful standards and regulations, and such an activity must not be performed without obtaining the requisite permit, as there will be a control over donors’ money, the body he/she gives to, and on which ways charity money collected would be spent,” added Bonfor.

He warned trading establishments against putting any box or any other means to collect charity in their premises without obtaining a prior permission from the competent authorities, affirming that the department shall bring to book any commercial firm proved to be collecting donations in favour of any unlicensed entity for any purpose whatsoever.

To conclude, Bonfor called upon owners of shops and merchants willing to place any charity box to arrange a permit in advance before proceeding to as they might be vulnerable to a legal action.

Hair and beauty parlour booked for flouting rules

Complaints & Responses

Institute refunds course fee: A complainant claimed he paid Dh5,000 against a training course he would join at a specialised language teaching institute. Right before the training course commenced, he asked to cancel his place on the course. His request had been met with approval by the language institute provided that a cancellation fee would be deducted off the full amount he had paid earlier. The complainant stated he did receive a reply from the institute but claimed he has not collected the registration amount. The Consumer Protection Section contacted the language institute and it was agreed upon that the institute will refund the said amount. The division contacted the complainant later, who said he had since collected the sum.

Consumer to pay additional sum: A consumer lodged a complaint against a trading shop selling and installing artificial stones. He claimed he had paid the shop a sum of money in exchange for supplying and installing the stone-cum-bricks in his house. However, the complainant said that the shop asked him to pay an additional amount of Dh9,000 to supply him with the remaining stones for the fence around the house. The complainant refused to pay the additional amount claiming that the amount he paid earlier was for the entire house, including the fence. The Consumer Complaints Section communicated with the two parties and reviewed the documents and sales papers, after which it was revealed the shop had delivered the complete order agreed upon to the consumer. The shop stated that it had the documents to prove the complainant did not pay the amount in full. Hence, the complainant has been notified about what the shop said after checking on the sales bills, and accordingly, it has been agreed with the complainant that he has to pay the amount in full in order to receive the service in full.

Shop manager agrees to alterations: A man lodged a complaint saying he had bought a suit from a shop in November 2012. Due to a difference in the suit size, he returned it to the clothes shop to be exchanged for the correct size, and the shop agreed to do so. He said the clothes shop received the suit over six months ago and he had not received any reply from the shop so far. A coordinator from the Consumer Complaints Section got in touch with the shop manager who stated that the complainant wanted his money back, although the suit he bought was sold nearly a year ago. The shop manager agreed to do the necessary alteration on the suit based on the complainant’s needs.

Store unable to repay money:A lady filed a complaint against a department store after purchasing a furniture set from the shop. They have agreed that the furniture set (not known if it is a bedroom, sofa, dining table, etc,) was to be delivered on June 26, 2013. Two days before the delivery date, the lady phoned the shop asking for a refund of her money, since she did not want the furniture set anymore, a request the shop owner had refused. Acting on the aforesaid complaint, the Consumer Complaints Section communicated with the shop manager in order to settle the matter amicably and looked into the possibility of refunding the money. However, it was said that the shop would bear exorbitant costs. Subsequently, the complainant has been told that it is impossible to repay her the money on the basis that the goods sold cannot be moved back to the shop if a consumer changes his/her mind.

- Compiled by Salah Al Deberky

A hair and beauty salon for women has been booked by the DED following 30 complaints lodged by customers after the establishment was found tampering with prices.

Head of the field control section Ahmed Al Awadhi said: “The inspectors of the department had launched a clampdown targeting the salon, which turned out to have been presenting promotion offers without having a permit, offering deductions without obtaining a permit from the Department”. The parlour was also found to have been tampering with the prices, he said, adding that the inspectors issued a ticket to the salon, and warned it not to repeat the violation.

He said the Commercial Control and Consumer Protection sector had launched the initiative themed “Let us agree”, which is a document on which the traders, retail and services shops pledge to fix the prices on seasonal occasions and festivities, and abide by the laws and conditions and rules set by the DEDD.

“The document complies with the Department’s endeavor in facilitating the principle of transparency in dealing with and protecting the customers in terms of barring exploitation by hiking the prices as a result of customers rush for shopping, as well as boosting the role pertaining to control over companies and trading establishments”, he added.

Keeping a check on commercial practices

The United Arab Emirates, in order to boost its excellent position as a major hub of world trade and beef up the performance of the national economy, is keen on enhancing and updating its commercial related laws in a way so as to conform to international standards.

Elaborating, Waleed Abdul Malek, Director of the Commercial Control Department, said the UAE government works on keeping pace with the rapidly-growing economy in the country by updating the federal legislative framework, as the government is currently cooperating with a number of international and local organisations and establishments to achieve such goal.

Subsequently, the Dubai Economic Development Department – the commercial control and consumer protection sector - since long time back recognised the significance and benefits the Dubai economy can yield amid a proper legislative milieu, which would guarantee investors a secure, safe and stable climate to invest their money, Abdul-Malek said.

So, the DED is working on curtailing the illegal commercial practices as part of ensuring respect and observation of the integrity of the commercial practices. That could happen through the rules applicable and enforceable on the commercial practices which reinforce the efficacy of the commercial control, with the necessity to toughen punishments in case of not abiding by such enforced rules. Thus, we always strive to ensure an active control within the framework of a sound commercial control.

I would like, through this column, to make it clear what is the role of the commercial control, especially in the promotional campaigns held during major events.

The increase in the number of events and its synchronous promotional and offer campaigns had a positive reflection on the retailing trade in Dubai which has begun witnessing a large number of visitors to the emirate who are mostly shoppers.

Talking about the positive effect of promotional campaigns in the emirate, Abdul-Malek said: “So, we see that the promotional campaigns, discounts, and raffle draws brought under the watch and control of the Promotional Events Control Section had a tangible positive effect on promoting the trade markets and the retailing sector in particular.

The DED’s Promotional Events Control Section is an integrated part which falls in with the Dubai government vision to preserve and maintain the consumers’ rights; be it residents, tourists, or visitors.”

The role of the commercial control is to scrutinise and verify the authenticity of the discounts and promotions offered by checking the permits granted to shops and trading companies included in the promotions through paying inspectional visits to these shops and firms. The aim is to catch offenders who may extend the promotion period at their discretion without the consent of the department, or catch those who may rig the raffle draw on prizes, or those who may exploit the advent of the Dubai Shopping Festival without a permission, in addition to detecting the bogus promotions and offers organsied by shops and firms without a permit, Abdul-Malek said.

Abdul-Malek urged all companies operating in Dubai that are interested in holding promotional offers and discounts, to observe the proper commercial practices and steer away from any violations. -

Khaleej Times runs the ‘Consumer Forum’ series in collaboration with the Department of Economic Development in Dubai. Readers can email their complaints and suggestions to news@khaleejtimes.comwith the subject line ‘Consumer Forum’ or raise them directly with the DED on phone number....

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