AFTER reading two letters in the Opinion page of the Borneo Bulletin this month – Shop fails to fix phone or reimburse money, dated Dec 13 and iPhone buyers remember, don’t forget your Apple ID, Dec 20 – I could feel the helplessness of the two individuals who have been cheated.
This is what happens when the market size is small but shops too many with the result the shops are too eager to palm off their products and pay little attention to their customers who return with complaints about the products.
The two letter writers, I am sure, must be ignorant about the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Order 2011 that came into effect on January 1, 2012.
In fact, I was waiting for the Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE) to respond to the two letters by stating about the existence of the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Order 2011 through which the letter writers can seek redressal, if they feel they have a case to fight.
The problem with such issues is awareness. Apart from conducting free clinics, the Law Society can do something to make the public realise there are avenues in the legal system to explore to seek justice.
The Small Claims Tribunal, through which such cases can be heard, aims to expedite the hearing of civil claims of not more than B$10,000. It is also to facilitate the party aggrieved to be heard in a less formal environment and at a lesser cost. The Small Claims Tribunal is governed by the Small Claims Tribunal Order, 2006.
The Law Society can actively run a weekly column in the print media like the Borneo Bulletin to promote awareness about the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Order 2011 and the Small Claims Tribunal.
It will not only bring awareness among the public, but make traders wary of passing wrong information or no information to a customer.
Do the public know that they can contact the JPKE by calling the JPKE hotline 2230223 or e-mail their complaints related to unfair trading to firstname.lastname@example.org?
They have every right to know. During festive seasons when businesses in Brunei Darussalam have sales, like the current Salebration, JPKE can highlight this over and over again through all mediums – print media, television and radio – so that aggrieved parties know where to go to.
According to the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Order 2011, it is an unfair practice for a supplier, in relation to a consumer transaction –
- To do or say anything, or omit to do or say anything, if as a result a consumer might reasonably be deceived or misled;
- To make a false claim;
- To take advantage of a consumer if the supplier knows or ought reasonably to know that the consumer –
(a) Is not in a position to protect his own interests; or
(b) Is not reasonably able to understand the character, nature, language or effect of the transaction or any matter related to the transaction.
A consumer who has entered a consumer transaction involving an unfair practice may commence an action in a court of competent jurisdiction against the supplier.
These are just a section of the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Order 2011.
But every household should have a copy of the Order and understand its contents.
Likewise, all businesses should also have a copy to know the rights of consumers.
With e-commerce making giant strides, thanks to ebay, Amazon, Alibaba and their likes, the Consumer Protection Order may have to be strengthened to cover online purchases.
The public needs to be constantly reminded of their rights so that they are not taken for a ride by some unscrupulous elements.
I read a lot of court cases in your newspaper but hardly anything under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Order 2011.
Maybe they are too small to be reported.
But Borneo Bulletin should report to ensure that readers know justice is being delivered for those who are cheated and against those who cheat.
– It’s my right