So today we shall be talking about us as the consumers and everything involving our protection as provided by the law.To begin with, we are all consumers at some point so this conversation matters to us all.
Now consumer protection law is defined as a state law designed to protect consumers against improperly described, damaged, faulty, and dangerous goods and services as well as from unfair trade and credit practices.Sounds interesting right?
Well, it’s also crucial for us as consumers to be aware of this law, and the fact that it is protecting our interface with suppliers.
The Consumer Protection Act in its place to safeguard the rights of consumers is backed up by the work of The Competition Authority of Kenya established under the Competition Act, No. 12 of 2010 as discussed in my previous post.This body receives complaints from legal or natural persons and consumer bodies in the country, it is responsible for reviewing and advising on consumer protection provisions, educating consumers on their rights and responsibilities and resolving disputes between consumers and traders.
The Consumer Protection Act includes;
- The right to full disclosure and information pre-agreement or contractual sign-up.This gives us the power to make knowledgeable choices.The so called ‘fine print’ needs to be brought to our attention for informed decision making.
Fine print is a small-type size in which covenants, deductions, exclusions, exemptions, and reductions of for example a loan agreement or insurance policy are sometimes printed. It is illegal in some countries to use a type size smaller than that used in the main body of agreement for any term or condition that limits or goes against the interests of the applicant or the weaker party.
You know those tiny writings in a document that you can barely read that are mostly at the end of a document well that’s what we call a fine print.There is also the need for discussion of exit clauses that are often not mentioned until something wrong occurs.
2.The right to the provision of adequate notice ahead of the termination of a service.The Act protects us by defining our right to the provision of adequate notice ahead of the termination of a service.
Arbitrary decisions to cut customers off at will and without prior warning are prohibited.With the provision of this Act, suppliers must consider how they will respond to our needs and determine if adequate and fair notice has been applied before any termination.
The specifics within the Act include;
1.The rights of consumers.
We as the consumers have the right to complain and take legal action where the quality of goods or services provided do not meet our agreed expectations.
With regards to service delivery, the right to raise the alarm on delays in delivery or to amendment or rectification as agreed is captured.
Therefore not only must the goods or services be of good quality, but also delivered on time or rectified in a timely manner as agreed by both parties.
2.The rights to commence legal action.The Act gives us the right to swing into action should there be a breach in the provision of goods or services.
Organizations and enterprises, both in the formal and informal sector are often quick to dismiss our complaints but with the new era of social media, we can easily raise our complaints on their timelines.In extremely serious cases, we have the right to commence legal action in relation to any disagreement relating to a contractual relationship for the provision of goods or services.
3.The clause that indicates ‘Any ambiguities in a consumer agreement (including oral agreements) shall be interpreted in favor of the consumer’ is a factor we cannot afford to overlook.It outlines what constitutes malpractice by a supplier which includes;
Misrepresenting goods or services as performing particular functions or services that are in reality inaccurate.
Presenting counterfeit materials as the original, or masking them to imply performance or quality where it isn’t achievable.
Taking advantage of (or pressuring) customers who may be unable to comprehend the consumer transaction owing to disability, illness or illiteracy.
Over pricing where the price grossly exceeds the price at which similar goods or services are readily available to like consumers.The Act provides that if a supplier of goods or services provides an estimate, he or she cannot charge the customer an amount that exceeds 10%!
Well, now you have it! The law may protect us but it is our duty to understand our rights. Likewise, it is the responsibility of every supplier to know the consequences of breaching. This awareness and consumer education will protect our interest and streamline our suppliers.