Consumer Rights Day observes
Mahfuja Mukul: From ordinary grocery stores to big supershops, roadside eateries or fancy restaurants-there are now irregularities everywhere. Apart from this, there are also product manufacturing companies, financial institutions and service providers. The market is like a fraud trap for consumers. Wherever raids are conducted, there is evidence of irregularities and fraud. The National Consumer Protection Directorate itself has given such information.
Since the beginning of the operation in 2009 till February 28, the Directorate of Consumer Affairs has conducted 62 thousand 9 raids across the country. The organization found irregularities against 1 lakh 46 thousand 660 institutions. That is, consumers were being cheated in these institutions.
According to the Consumer Affairs Department, market surveillance shows that there is no price list of products. It has become quite routine. Admixture of adulterated products, rigging of weights, lack of price, weight and expiration date on product packaging are common. There is no receipt of purchase price. Again, a trend of not giving sales price receipts was also found.
A class of companies are committing fraud like ordering expensive products, delivering low-priced products, giving defective-low-quality products, treating customers poorly, lying, advertising using celebrities and famous stars, models and players, and not delivering products even when they are in stock.
On the other hand, in the case of product manufacturers, production without obtaining government certificate, violation of packaging laws, giving less weight and spreading the products in the market by making products similar to well-known brands of other brands. Many companies are fooling consumers by including incomprehensible and anti-consumer terms. Around festivals like Eid, extra money is being taken from the customer in the trap of attractive offers.
At present Assistant Director Abdul Jabbar Mandal is conducting regular operations of the Directorate of Consumer Affairs in the capital Dhaka. When asked about his experience, he told, “Tendency to make unethical profits is the main reason for consumer fraud. Food adulteration or coloring is for profit. Not showing the price list is also for the same reason. If there is a price list, he cannot charge anyone extra.
Degradation of product quality, sale of illegal products, defective products being passed on to the consumer. We have to get out of this mindset. Along with this, traders should remove their reluctance towards the law.
Those concerned say that in other countries of the world, consumers are the regulators of products. The position of consumers in developed countries is getting stronger day by day. The situation in Bangladesh is exactly the opposite. It is the businessmen who decide how much benefit the consumer will or will not get. Pricing, supply and market conditions are completely under their control.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Vice President SM Najer Hossain said, “Consumers in this country have always been victims of injustice in terms of products and services. Fraud rates are constantly increasing as consumers are unaware, unorganized. That is why the consumers of Bangladesh are called helpless consumers. The government is working to overcome this situation. But that is not enough. Consumer Protection Directorate and other institutions should be strengthened drive. Manpower should be increased.
In response to the question whether the existing capacity of the Directorate is sufficient in ensuring the rights of consumers, AHM Safikuzzaman, Director General of the Directorate of Consumer Affairs told, ‘Our manpower is less, that is correct. The manpower structure is insufficient in the light of the volume of work we have all over the country. We have sent to the Ministry of Public Administration from the Ministry of Commerce seeking 465 new manpower. A bit more speed will come soon.
Stating that there are some weaknesses in the Consumer Rights Protection Act of 2009, he said, “The old law is being modernized.” In the meantime, our activities have been very dynamic. We are settling about 95 percent of complaints. Many times, complainants do not provide documents. Because of this, it is not possible to settle it. However, due to laws, we have not progressed much in terms of e-commerce.
About 11-12 thousand complaints are pending. Now we want to work in service sector. There is cheating here. There are many complaints about the transport sector and railway services, water and gas, air tickets, health sector.
World Consumer Rights Day observed
Meanwhile, ‘World Consumer Rights Day’ is being celebrated yesterday in the context of consumer situation in the country. Like other countries of the world, the Consumer Directorate has made various arrangements to celebrate the day in Bangladesh. In the contemporary context, this year the theme of the day is ‘Secure Energy, Consumer Friendly World’.
In 2009, the government enacted the Consumer Rights Protection Act to protect the interests of consumers and prevent crimes against consumer rights. National Directorate of Consumer Rights Protection was established to implement this Act. Since its establishment, the Directorate has been playing an important role in protecting consumer interests. The organization also observes World Consumer Rights Day every year.
Like every year, this year too, various social organizations including the National Directorate of Consumer Rights Protection have undertaken various programs on the occasion of the day. Directorate of Consumer Affairs has organized a discussion meeting at Bangabandhu International Conference Center on Wednesday. Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi attended as the chief guest.
He has inaugurated the app named ‘CCMS’ there. Consumers can easily complain through this app. Besides, a souvenir released, which is unveiled on this occasion. Apart from Dhaka, the day is celebrated in all the divisional and district offices.
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