Consumer Protection Under The FCCC Act 2010

Businesses must keep all the records for such sale for a period of seven (7) years and must furnish all the records to FCCC upon request for verification and assessment.
16 Feb 2019 11:57
Consumer Protection Under The FCCC Act 2010
Joel Abraham

Consumer Protection laws exist primarily to ensure that consumers are protected against unfair trade practices.

Undoubtedly, there are a handful of unscrupulous traders in the Fijian market who tend to take advantage of vulnerable Fijians.

Whilst the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) works towards ensuring a fair market place for all Fijians. It has noted that a number of businesses engage in unfair trade practices to simply profiteer at the expense of consumers.

Businesses and service providers tend to engage in heavy marketing and advertising of their products and services with the use of technical jargons to lure consumers.

Over the years the use of technical jargons in advertisements have considerably increased.

The use of terms such as “free” in advertisements while marketing products and services is becoming a common site.

However, businesses and service providers should exercise caution when using the term “free”.

The idea of getting goods or services without charge can create

keen interest amongst consumers as they usually think of ‘free’ as being absolutely free—a justifiable expectation.

Simply, businesses may get into trouble while using the word ‘free’ if they fail to properly explain the magnetism of the word in any of their advertisements or promotions.

Further, businesses must reveal the complete truth in their advertisements and promotions, including any conditions that the consumer must comply with in order to obtain the ‘free’ item.

Circumstances and Conduct

When consumers access the goods and services to take advantage of the ‘specials’, however, are not awarded the benefits, they tend to raise their query with the FCCC.

Alternatively, FCCC does media monitoring to scrutinise advertisements to ensure consumers are not being misled.

Whether a conduct is misleading or deceptive will depend on the factors surrounding the particular conduct.

This means that all relevant circumstances will be taken into consideration, such as the entire advertisement, product label or statements and claims made by a business.

While assessing and investigating such matters, FCCC also takes into account other factors.

These such as, fine prints, contradictory statements, unsubstantiated claims, images that obscure or alter written statements pertaining to the product or service by the businesses.

Advertising Techniques – Bait

Advertising and Special Offers

Under the consumer protection law, bait advertising is defined as the practice of offering products for sale by a business at a low price to attract consumers.

Bait advertising is an illegitimate form of advertising under the FCCC Act 2010.

Under this advertising scheme, businesses advertise that the products or services are offered for sale at a discounted price.

However, businesses fail to keep such products in reasonable quantities during the sale period.

If businesses have knowledge that the particular product is not available in reasonable quantities, they should not advertise that particular product for sale for a considerable number of days.

However, if businesses have products in reasonable quantities but it happens to finish during the sale period then, business must clearly state in writing to inform the consumers that the particular product has finished.

If a business is advertising range of products at special offers, they must clearly mark the products which are offered for sale at special price.

This is to avoid any confusion for consumers.

If the special or discounted price of the product is just for a day or two, businesses must outline this condition to the consumers clearly.

If there is a reasonable chance of the offer not being available at the advertised price, then the businesses may be in breach of the FCCC Act 2010.

Businesses must keep all the records for such sale for a period of seven (7) years and must furnish all the records to FCCC upon request for verification and assessment.

Advise to businesses:

Businesses must undertake due diligence when engaging in sales and advertising techniques.

If any business identifies that their competitor has engaged in such illegitimate form of advertising and sale, they may notify FCCC of the issue.

Advice to consumer:

FCCC urges consumers to exercise caution when engaging in sales and promotions.

Consumers must ask questions and act responsibly from their end to make an informed decision about their purchase.

Should any consumer have any issue or feel that a business has engaged in unethical or deceptive conduct, one must notify FCCC so that appropriate action can be taken to remedy such conduct.

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