Consumer Forum: Priceless information out of thin air

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Consumer Forum: Priceless information out of thin air

Department’s Salati programme on Noor Dubai radio gives consumers information 
on the prices of essential commodities and direction of economy

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Published: Wed 25 Sep 2013, 9:26 AM

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

Fake aphrodisiacs and other drugs seized from a contracting company’s warehouse in International City’s Chinese Cluster by inspectors of the Commercial Control and Consumer Protection Division. — Supplied photo

If you want to know exactly how much your essential commodities cost, whether the prices went up or down, and other things about the economy, where do you go for accurate and updated information?

The answer is the Salati (My Basket) initiative, broadcast on Noor Dubai radio by the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED).

The ‘mubashir’ or live programme plays a key role in disseminating information to the public and educating the consumer.

The Salati initiative or the essential consumer commodity price index aims at keeping listeners well informed about the latest trends in basic product prices. It is important to provide accurate information related to living expenses so that households can keep track of changes in the prices of products they need.

The DED’s objective in running the broadcast is to provide a reading on the movement of food and consumer item prices: price increases, decreases as well as stable rates. The consumer is encouraged to seek substitute products in case the price of a certain commodity, like meat, goes up. Once the price goes up in an outlet, the consumer would be able to know about it via his mobile phone.

It may be that the price rise is just a one outlet phenomenon. While a single outlet had raised meat prices, they could be stable in others. Dissemination of the information would enable the consumer to move to the outlet offering a lower price or look for a substitute product that meets similar requirements but costs less.

The main objective is to spread the culture of awareness that comes by relaying credible information, which leads to informed search for substitutes products.

The programme on essential commodity prices has been hailed by listeners with letters pouring in to express their thanks. It has also led to listeners becoming pro-active. Many of them are now calling up the DED when they come across discrepancies in the prices charged at sales outlet price lists and those given in the price index. Initiatives like Salati provide audiences with accurate and transparent information, which, in turn, encourage and enable individuals to play a positive role in society.

Complaints & Responses

Gown of contention: A woman lodged a complaint against a tailoring shop that makes abayas or long dresses, alleging an expensive dress she had bought for Dh2,500 was found to have a rip. She said she discovered the rent when she tried it out at home. The woman said the shop should return her money. The Consumer Complaints Division found that the woman had bought the dress a year ago. When she was asked for the receipt, she said she had settled the problem amicably with the shop and asked for the case to be closed.

Sorry, wrong number: A man filed a complaint against a shop selling and making dresses where he had worked for some time. He said though he had left the place three-and-a-half years ago, he was still receiving phone calls from the shop’s customers because the delivery bags handed out by the shop still bore his phone number. Though he had contacted the shop repeatedly, asking the manager to remove his phone number, no action was taken. The Consumer Complaints Division directed the shop owner to replace the personal phone numbers on the bags as fast as possible with the shop’s landline number.

No refunds on service fee: In his complaint against a shipment firm, a man said he had sought its services to transport his car to Jordan. However, when he tried to collect the vehicle in Jordan, he was told he would have to pay more. When he returned to Dubai, the customer demanded that the company return the amount he had paid in Jordan. However, the company rejected his request. The Consumer Complaints Division found that the sum the complainant had paid in Jordan was a service fee levied there and he could not ask the shipment company here to refund the money.

No job, no money: A job seeker applied for a job through a recruitment company and was assured he met all requirements. He was then asked to pay Dh3,680. However, after he had made the payment, the recruitment company told him he was unfit for the job. The man asked the agency to return his money but it refused to do so. On the Consumer Complaints Division’s intervention, the recruitment company agreed to return the money since the client had not benefited from their services.

Smartphone, unwise customer: A man complained that he had bought a smartphone from a shop but it would not switch on. He said the shop should give him a new phone. When the Consumer Complaints Division contacted the shop, it was told that the phone was working. The problem was that the customer did not know how to use the phone. He was taught how to do it and the case was closed. - (Compiled by Salah Al Deberky)

The broadcast underlines the role of the media as well as the initiatives launched by the local government departments in Dubai. These initiatives are meant to keep society informed on economic developments and facilitate consumption through a flow of news and knowledgeable analyses.

The Commercial Control and Consumer Protection Division is working with media organisations, including Noor Dubai radio, for programmes that educate the consumer.

The timing of the broadcast is decided by it in order to ensure the programme benefits the largest chunk of consumers.

Fake drug haul yields damp squib aphrodisiacs

Inspectors at the Department of Economic Development’s (DED) Commercial Control and Consumer Protection Division seized 28,450 cartons containing nearly one million illegal pills.

These included fake aphrodisiacs, slimming drugs, and body-building drugs. The cache was in the warehouse of a contracting company operating from the Chinese Cluster at Dubai International City.

The raid also yielded as many as 6,000 empty cartons that were meant to be used to store more fake medicines.

Such periodic hauls have prompted the Consumer Protection Division to warn the public that they should not buy drugs without a doctor’s prescription. Also, prescribed medicines should be bought only from registered pharmacies.

The directive is intended to protect consumers from fake drugs, which could jeopardise their health. It is also intended to protect genuine trademark holders.

Abdullah Al Shehi, director at the DED’s Intellectual Property Protection Department, told Arabic daily Emarat Al Youm that the contracting company, which operated in Dubai, had stored huge quantities of fake aphrodisiac pills and stimulants in unhygienic places.

The DED, he said, would continue its crackdown on fake products that violated intellectual property rights to protect consumers and ensure that they did not buy unsafe merchandise.

Al Shehi also warned against buying medicines from unknown sources, saying such medicines had serious health consequences and could even cause death.

Ibrahim Bahzad, senior director at the same department, said some of the boxes seized contained incomprehensible medical prescriptions, which also indicated that the drugs did not meet the requisite medical standards. In addition, some did not have any expiry date, which could also endanger buyers.

Bahzad also said that the bigger part of the company’s office had been turned into a warehouse for fake aphrodisiacs.

The men behind market stability

The Department of Economic Development’s Commercial Control Division is tasked with monitoring the enforcement of surveillance laws and coordinating with the entities concerned. It also monitors obstacles in the enforcement, studies the economy and proposes projects related to commercial control in different markets.

In addition, the watchdog prepares periodical reports, follows up on complaints and takes action against those who violate commercial control regulations.

Its other duties include following regional and international developments and changes in commercial control. It makes suggestions vis-a-vis the economy to create stability and control the markets. The stability of markets is a strategic priority for the division as well as the responsibility of all parties dealing with the market.

It is also concerned with organising investment and consumer movements in the emirate.

The division attaches great importance to supporting and protecting consumers’ rights through strategic planning and effective approaches for market stability.

Its strategic plans include reinforcing surveillance and clampdowns which continue for an entire year.

These are meant to protect both the consumer and investor. The objectives include correcting consumer decisions and controlling consumer product markets so that they work as a fair intermediary between producers and consumers.

Besides safeguarding markets from overstepping, the watchdog interacts with consumers and investors to ensure everyone’s rights are protected.

From time to time it launches campaigns to send a clear message to factories, salesmen, distributors, and others connected with marketing: that it has zero tolerance towards those who violate the law.

By protecting competition to prevent market monopoly, the division works as a reserve force to curb hegemony in the market.

When regulations are not enough to ensure fair competition, the division intervenes to nudge competition towards specific socio-economic policies that guarantee an economy with high performance. -salah@khaleejtimes.com

(As told by Ahmed Al Awadi, Senior Manager, Field Control Department)

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.com with the subject line ‘Consumer Forum’ or raise them directly with the DED on phone number ....

Raise your queries : 600 545 555



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