Ritesh is a gadget freak, and spends a large chunk of his savings to buy a stash of the latest tech goodies. In fact, he buys them almost as soon as they are launched in the market.
Most of his purchases are often online, through bargain websites as they offer the latest gadgets at great discounts.
Although he has had fairly stress-free online shopping experiences, the last purchase, however, turned into a nightmare.
He informed ‘Emirates24|7’, that a gadget that was recently delivered to him did not work, and that he was finding it tough to get it replaced, or even refunded.
“I got a great deal for Samsung S3. When the product reached him after a week’s delay, it was not in working condition,” he narrated.
“I kept trying to get in touch with the customer care centre, but their telephone line is constantly busy and it’s a long wait before you can talk to an agent. Although they told me that it would be refunded, I’m still awaiting confirmation.”
The courier company used isn’t well-known either, adding to the misery.
Ritesh isn’t alone. There are many in the UAE who use online shopping websites, and find themselves locked in a never-ending saga when the product delivered is damaged.
Many forums online have registered numerous such complaints, where heavily discounted gadgets when delivered aren’t in working condition.
As many customers continue to struggle to get their money back, authorities in the UAE step out to inform that the law does protect every consumer, whether online or otherwise.
“If a company is found selling a defective commodity, it can be fined Dh5,000,” confirmed Omar Bushehab, Executive Director of Commercial Control and Consumer Protection, Department of Economic Development, Dubai.
According to him, the only criteria that a consumer must look into while making an online purchase is that the website is UAE-based, or has a local representative in the region. Otherwise it is difficult for the department to take action due to lack of jurisdiction.
He advised that if a customer is faced with any such grievances, they can connect not one, but three bodies in the UAE. These are the department of consumer protection under the Ministry of Economy, the concerned Economic Development Departments (Dubai or Abu Dhabi or other emirates depending on the location of the vendor), and the consumer protection associations inside the UAE.
He elaborated that under the UAE Federal Law No. 24 of 2006, consumer protection department of the Ministry of Economy and Economic
Development Department in the emirates are equipped to deal with unfair trade practices.
The UAE law gives consumers the right to file a complaint and receive compensation for personal and financial damages as well as the right to sue the company if cheated.
Hassan Al-Kathiri, the consumption expert and founder of the website ‘The Arab Consumer’ urged the consumers to buy from credible sites, or the ones which has agents in the UAE as this will make the process more streamlined and efficient.