Traders with no spare parts should be restricted

15/11/2011 14:54

THE Consumer Council is calling on the authorities to consider imposing restrictions to traders who import white goods, electronic goods, vehicles, machinery etc without spare parts.

The Council has observed that unscrupulous traders are importing items without providing spare parts or reasonable repair services.

While causing a lot of inconvenience to consumers, the absence of spare parts appears to be a tactic used by some traders to force customers to purchase new items, rather than having them to buy replacement parts to get their existing items repaired.

In one case brought to the Council’s attention, a consumer purchased a sink mixer/tap from a major hardware outlet but the tap started to leak after 6 months of use. The washer had worn out. The hardware outlet was unable to provide a spare and the customer was quietly told to purchase a new sink mixer costing more than $200. Why should consumers

The Council has also come across cases where vehicle dealers are either unable to provide spare parts or take months and charge high costs to consumers to get the parts from overseas. In such situation consumers incur costs by paying for alternative mode of transportation while waiting for parts to arrive.

The Council is calling on the authorities to put conditions on import licenses where the importers should be required to provide spare parts for items they import. Those that are unable to provide spare parts and after-sales repair services should not be allowed to continue with their import license. Importers should also be stopped from importing obsolete items or models that are no longer in production.

Traders who cannot provide spare parts should simply leave the market.

The absence of spare parts coupled with the dumping of low quality products on the Fiji market is creating a “throw-away society” where unrepaired and malfunctioned items are continuously thrown away or dumped. This excessive sales and disposal of short-lived products also has negative implications for the environment.

While Fiji lacks strong consumer guarantee legislations (such as Consumer Guarantee Act [New Zealand), the onus is on enforcement agencies to impose conditions on import licenses that involve machinery, white goods, second-hand vehicles, electronic items, etc. The NZ Consumer Guarantee Act gives the consumers the right to spare parts and repair facilities for a reasonable time unless the consumer is fully informed of their non-availability before purchase decision is made.

The Council is also urging consumers to ask retailers on the availability of spare parts and after-sales repair services before making their purchase.