What To Do When: UAE vendor refuses refund for faulty car, electronics... or even clothes

Is there a legal recourse, beyond the obvious store complaint, should a customer in the UAE purchase an item that turns out to be defective or damaged?

The Blue Book

The Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED)’s Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection (CCCP) section has brought out the second edition of the Blue Book on laws governing relations between retailers and customers across key business sectors.

The Blue Book guarantees the rights of all consumer products and goods purchased from a seller (distributor, agent, and supplier) – in case of a defect.

The book covers defects in design, manufacture, and hidden defects which cannot be seen by the naked eye as well.

Here are excerpts covering a few products:

Cars

The Blue Book states that the vehicle must be replaced in the event of a manufacturing defect which is beyond repair during the warranty period.

Clothing, shoes and shades

Regarding garments, shoes and eye-wear, the Blue Book indicates that the trader is obliged to replace the item if there is any defect, provided the consumer has not violated the usage instructions.

The consumer has the right to demand a refund in case there is no trial room - which hinders the consumer’s ability to choose what fits him/her.

Electronic appliances and devices

In case of defective or malfunctioning electronic goods, the consumer has the right to a refund or replacement in case repair is not possible or product does not match agreed specifications.

Furniture

A consumer has the right to recover money from the seller in the event of non-compliance with agreed specifications, provided that they are written.

Laundries

Regarding the services of laundries, cash recovery is possible for goods damaged by the laundry or even a change in colour.

The book confined the compensation to 10 times the value of the service, unless the consumer submits a higher value of the damaged product with a purchase invoice.

Critical to-do list

- Immediately return it to the shop or seller.

- If the company/seller does not respond and refuses to replace the damaged item file a complaint with the Department of Economic Development.

- In case the item is a product like a car, send a copy of the complaint to the regional dealership handling the car brand.

- Keep all purchase invoices and documents related to the complaint, including e-mails, other internet communications and SMSes.

Consumers have the right to choose

Dr Hachim Al Nuaimi, Director of the Consumer Protection Department of the Ministry of Economy, stresses that the law favours consumers.

He reiterates that the consumer has the right to replace or repair or recover the price, taking into account the type and nature of the item and the period taken to replace the defective item.

Dr Al Nuaimi clarifies that in case of a defective car the law makes allowance for replacement only in case of a manufacturing defect and not because of any misuse by the consumer.

Helpline

The DED receives complaint on 00971600545555 Consumers can also contact with DED on consumerrights@dubaided.gov.ae

Federal Consumer Protection Act 24

Hassan Al Katheeri is an expert in the field of consumer protection and household consumer issues.

He runs the Arabic website ‘Arab Consumer Network’ - www.arbcon.net.

Al Katheeri states that the Federal Consumer Protection Act 24 of 2006 obliges the supplier to refund or replace a product in the event it is damaged or defective.

He added the law has given the consumer the full right to file a complaint against a supplier with the Department of Economic Development (DED) in the event the defective item is not replaced.

The consumer also has the right to file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Department of the Ministry of Economy.

He stressed that the consumer's right is not confined to the replacement of the item, but can include compensation as well.

Al Katheeri also informs that the law allows an administrative body which represents consumers – like DED or the Department of Consumer Protection - to represent a consumer before the competent court of law.

Penalties

The Consumer Protection Act confines penalties against traders by a fine of not less than Dh1,000 and in the event of damage from use of commodity (where risks were not explained) to Dh10,000.

The act also gives authority to the Minister of Economy, in the absence of commitment of the company, to suspend activities of the company for a period of not more than a week.

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