Redress: Getting what you seek
August 6, 2020
There is no doubt that many Fijians often end up paying for unsatisfactory goods or services. While some consumers may disregard the faults and end up using the items or services, others tend to demand for a redress in efforts to get value for their money.
Unfortunately, some consumers end up facing difficulties in getting their redress because they do not have proper evidences, such as receipts, to support their claims, especially in times of crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and post TC Harold.
What worsens the situation is when Fijians fail to practice their responsibilities as a consumer and tend to focus more on consumer rights, which may deprive them of getting a redress because they do not have supporting documents.
Therefore, it is imperative for Fijians to understand questions and answers below that can help them when seeking a redress in future: When can I get a redress? Redress come in forms of repairs, replacements or refunds.
A consumer is entitled to get a redress if the goods or services they paid for:
- Are defective or does not do what they are meant for [not fit for purpose];
- Different from what was advertised or shown on packaging;
- Does not match the sample or model been shown to you;
- Delivery is late or does not arrive, or products are damaged during delivery. When will consumers most likely NOT get a redress?
There have been instances where consumers have not been able to get redress from traders. This is because consumers get blinded so much by their rights and ignore their responsibilities.
While the right to redress is one of the fundamental rights for a consumer, one should practice their responsibility of being critically aware when paying for a good or service.
A responsible consumer must:
- Keep receipts at all times as it serves as a proof of purchase when seeking redress [take a picture on your smartphone as a backup];
- Ask questions. The more you ask, the more information about the good or service you will have to determine whether you wish to purchase it or not.
- Check for refund policies and warranties. Similarly, while the right to redress still apply to consumers who buy from overseas online sellers, it is difficult to enforce and resolve such issues. This is when consumers do not carry out thorough background checks and end up spending large amounts of money.
Additionally, consumers must be very careful when paying for second hand goods or hiring unlicensed and unregistered service providers seen on social media pages. Moreover, traders are not legally required to provide redress when consumers have a “change of mind”.
A change of mind refers to, when consumers, after getting all information about the good or service, and after testing it, purchases the item however, later return to the trader seeking redress because “they no longer want it”.
Speaker Bags Jone purchased two speaker bags from a trader for a sum of $186.00 and within 24 hours, he went back to the trader to return the bags, seeking for a full refund. Jone advised the trader that it would require more than one person to fit the speakers into the bag.
Prior to the purchase, Jone was aware that two people were needed to place speakers into the bags, as he requested the assistance of a sales staff. Since the items were not faulty, the trader denied him a refund. Traders are not obligated to provide consumers redress on a change of mind, change of circumstances or when consumers find a cheaper product elsewhere.
Seeking professional help for redress The first thing consumers must do when they discover any problem with the good or service is to speak to the trader at the earliest. Consumers must explain the problem to traders advising them on how you would like it to be resolved.
The Council has noticed that most traders are forthcoming and will assist consumers if they approach them first. If the problem persists, then consumers can refuse a repair and seek for a replacement or refund from the trader or request the Council’s assistance in facilitating the redress. So, what happens when consumers approach the Council for assistance?
Upon receiving a complaint, the Council requests for proof of purchase (receipt) and any other relevant documents. Following this, the complaint is raised to the trader and they are given three (3) days to respond. If the trader fails to respond within this timeframe then the Council issues a warning letter with a three to five days response time. When the trader responds, and disputes the claims made by the consumer, the Council then conducts mediation by calling in both parties.
However, if the trader does not dispute the consumer’s claims, then mediation is not conducted and redress is provided.
Note: A consumer can only seek the Council’s assistance to facilitate redress if they have paid for the good or service. Seeking redress on a traded good or service does not guarantee the Council’s assistance.
If you are seeking a redress for a faulty product, call our National Consumer Helpline Toll Free Number 155 and lodge a complaint or send an email to email@example.com