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CCZ squeals over consumer rights violations

by Staff reporter
17 Jun 2021 at 06:11hrs | Views
THE Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has accused unscrupulous retailers of overpricing, multi-tier pricing and selling substandard goods taking advantage of consumers' ignorance of their rights enshrined in the Consumer Protection Act.

CCZ regional manager (Matabeleland) Comfort Muchekeza yesterday expressed concern over rampant violation of consumers' rights mainly by large-scale retailers at a time when the consumer rights watchdog could not carry out awareness campaigns due to restrictions on movement and public gatherings.

"The Consumer Protection Act has many sections and both consumers and service providers are not familiar with the Act. Many service providers are abusing and violating the rights of consumers.

"You still find a lot of shops writing messages like no refunds, no returns, no exchange, leave goods at your own risk and all this is abuse of the rights of consumers. Consumers are not even aware that breach of their rights by shops can lead to a five-year sentence. They should report such cases.

"We do not want businesses to be arrested or to be pushed out of business. If one service provider closes, it affects the consumers as well. As a council, we want to bring balance between the two," Muchekeza said.

He said CCZ programmes to educate consumers on their rights had been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We cannot do physical campaigns and, therefore, the media becomes our mouthpiece to educate people on the Consumer Protection Act."

He said plans were underway to establish a consumer protection fund to protect citizens against abuse by shops.

Muchekeza said some of the breaches of the Consumer Protection Act by unscrupulous businesspeople, included multitier pricing, fraudulent offers, failure to label products properly and the lack of disclosure of consumers' personal information to third parties, which are all liable for prosecution.

"Consumers are now entitled to be fully refunded for defective or sub-standard goods and can individually approach the courts for redress or refer their complaints to the Consumer Protection Commission set up in the new Act.

"The commission will enforce the Act through investigators and inspectors deployed across the country and will be aided by consumer advocacy organisations that, through a statutory instrument still to be crafted, will be designated to conduct conciliation and arbitration of disputes between parties," he said.

Source - newsday
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