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Consumer Protection and Unfair Trade Practice

Consumer Protection and Unfair Trade Practice
July 17
13:39 2017

Consumer protection is defined as a concept that are designed to ensure that fair competition and the free flow of correct information in the market place.

In simple term, the rights of consumers, as well as fair trade, competition, and accurate information in the marketplace are respected by businesses.

In the business environment, laws are designed to prevent businesses from engaging in fraudulent or unfair trade practices whilst gaining advantage over competitors and at the same time exploiting consumer.

The laws also provide additional protection for the most vulnerable in society.

Consumer protection laws are a form of government regulation that aim to protect the rights of consumers.

For example, a government may require businesses to disclose detailed information about products particularly in areas where safety or public health is an issue, such as food.

Consumer protection is linked to the idea of consumer rights, and to the formation of consumer organisations, which help consumers make better choices in the marketplace and get help with consumer complaints.

Consumer interests can also be protected by promoting competition in the markets which directly and indirectly serve consumers, consistent with economic efficiency.

Consumer protection can also be asserted via non-government organizations and individuals as consumer activism.

Who is a consumer?

A consumer is defined as someone who acquires goods or services for direct use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing.

Who administers consumer protection in Fiji?

In Fiji, the Fiji Commerce Commission (‘Commission’) acts as the regulator of consumer protection issues whilst the Consumer Council of Fiji acts in an advocacy capacity.

Part 7 of the Commerce Commission Act 2010 (CCA2010) is specifically designed to meet this task in the context of promoting competition.

To ensure compliance by businesses, the Commission receives and deliberates on complaints from consumers.

It also conducts community and trader awareness, publishes educational materials in the media and for circulation.

For cases of breach with adequate supporting evidence, they are filed in court for prosecution.

What is unfair trade practice?

An unfair trade practice consists of using various deceptive, fraudulent or unethical methods to obtain business.

Unfair trade practices include misrepresentation, false advertising, tied selling and other acts that are declared unlawful by statute.

It can also be referred to as deceptive trade practices.

Some Practical Examples

1. False or misleading representation –

  •  Manufacturer sold socks, which were not pure cotton, labelled as ‘pure cotton’;
  •  Retailer placed a label on garments showing a sale price and a higher, crossed-out price.

However, the garments had never been sold for the higher price;

  •  Business made a series of untrue representations about the therapeutic benefits of negative ion mats it sold;
  •  Motor repairer told a consumer more repair work was needed on their car than was necessary.

2. Bait advertising-

  •  A company advertised a sale of beds on the radio and in newspapers.

The newspaper advertisements noted that, for some lines, stocks were limited, but the radio advertisements did not.

Two of the cheaper lines of beds were in fact sold out while the radio advertisements for them continued to run.

Advice from Commission

Do not make purchases of items if you are not sure or be fully informed on the following-

  •  The standard, quality, value or grade of products or services
  •  The composition style, model or history of products
  •  Whether the products are new
  •  A particular person agreeing to acquire products or services
  •  Testimonials by any person relating to products or services
  •  The sponsorship, approval, performance characteristics, accessories, benefits and uses of products or services
  •  The price of products or services
  •  The availability of repair facilities or spare parts
  •  The place of origin of a product.

For example, where it was made or assembled.

For more information, view our Country of origin claims page

  •  A buyer’s need for the products or services
  •  Any guarantee, warranty or condition on the products or services.

For more information, view our Refunds repairs and returns section.

SOURCE: Fiji Commerce Commission

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