Council calls for better standards for electrical goods

08/07/2010 14:48

The Consumer Council wants better standards set and enforced for electrical goods coming into the country. This is after Council received 76 complaints on electronic goods from January to June 2010. In 2009 a total of 129 complaints were received and the Council expects this years figure to be much higher. The Council has found that many electronic products flooding the market are giving consumers false expectations about their quality and longevity.

The majority of complaints on electrical goods relate to poor after-sale services provided to the consumers. These include: traders unwilling to repair or replace faulty products; not having the required spare parts for particular products; appliances breaking down hours after repairs; retailers not willing to repair items still under warranty or telling consumers to contact manufacturers for repairs. The Council has many examples of sordid experiences faced by consumers who purchased electrical products. For example, one complainant had to give his washing machine three times for repairs to the retailer within months of purchase. Frustrated and tired when the customer asked for refund, his request was denied by the retailer.

Council’s experience shows that some traders sell obsolete electrical goods which have been phased out by the manufacturer.  Buying obsolete items can cause problem when the spare-parts are not available when the item requires repair.  The Council is also aware of consumers getting lured by the low prices of some electronic goods and they do not spend time on thoroughly finding out about the products before purchasing it. Many consumers also do not know much about the products so they end by buying those which later give them a lot of problems. Instead of being overwhelmed by the cheap prices, consumer should question why particular products are sold at ridiculously low prices. They should ask various questions about the products such as; Do I really need the product, how the product works? Are spare parts available? Will the company provide back-up service? Consumers should shop around, comparing prices and after-sales service before purchasing electronic products.

While consumers have a right to repair and refund for faulty electronic goods sold to them, they also have a responsibility to check that they have followed the installation and operating rules before they lodge complaints on faulty appliance. Many consumers are not aware about the voltage system in Fiji and hence they do not use the right power adapters for low voltage appliances. Also some electronics importers are bringing in products with incompatible voltage and often consumers have to spend extra money on buying adapters. Consumers should always seek information on appliance voltage from the retailers.

Another area of concern of the Council is the sale of extended warranties to consumers to cover domestic electrical goods. Extended warranties usually extend the period of the manufacturer’s guarantee and consumers should be wary of buying the extended warranties. This is because some of these extended warranties do not cover many aspects of damages.