September 24, 2021
In this modern day and age, consumers all over the world are actively becoming more knowledgeable on consumers issues; asserting their rights in the market place. Many consumers now also employ simple yet effective tactics in order to ensure that they make informed and the best decisions when shopping. One such method which has gained traction around the world as well as Fiji is comparative shopping. The Consumer Council of Fiji (CCoF), through multiple mediums, have also continuously advocated about such tactful strategies which can save consumers hundreds or even thousands of their coffers. Comparative shopping entails comparing different options before a transaction is made and is a very important method for both consumers and companies when seeking the best deals around. A very common and effective means of conducting comparative shopping – especially when buying expensive items, is through obtaining quotes from businesses.
What is a quote?
A quote is a statement of the price at which a business will supply goods or services – within a specific timeframe. Although a quote is not a legal document like an invoice, a quotation is still fixed, and therefore should be honoured by the businesses until it is valid.
While quotes are an effective tool, consumers must understand their rights and responsibilities when seeking and using quotes from businesses. Recently, CCoF has come across cases whereby businesses are not honouring quotes and also cases where consumers do not read the terms and conditions of quotes.
1. Hardware trader dishonours quote
Jone wanted to build a car port for his vehicle hence decided to purchase roofing iron; for which he sought quotes from two different traders. After assessing the quotes, he went ahead to purchase the roofing iron from the retailer who was offering a cheaper price of $3.16. However, he was informed that the price of the roofing iron has increased to $3.68 per feet and that his quote was no longer valid – even though it was clearly written in the quote that it was valid for 30 days.
2. Consumer overlooks terms and conditions of quote
Richard was planning to do some renovation works, hence sought quotations for hardware materials from different businesses. After almost a month, Richard decided to purchase the hardware materials from one of the companies. To his surprise, Richard was informed that his quotation was no longer valid and the prices of the products have changed. Richard sought the Council’s assistance and after a thorough investigation, it was concluded that the quote had a validity period of 14 days – which had surpassed.
The issues highlighted above can be easily avoided if both consumers and businesses do their due diligence and exercise their responsibilities. Let’s look at some of the things which consumers and businesses should do while seeking/issuing quotes.
Consumers tips when seeking and using quotes
1. While getting a quote Consumers must ensure;
• The quote includes every part of the job or the correct quantity of the product;
• To read the entire quote issued by the business, including terms and conditions;
• That they understand everything in the quote. If you are unsure of anything, seek advice from families or friends;
• To enquire if the business has a licence to perform the work (such as household electrical works); and
• That the validity period of the quote is disclosed in written.
3. Give information
Provide as much information as possible to the business you are requesting a quote from.
The more you give, the more accurate the quotes will be.
Give each business:
• the exact quantity and brand (where applicable) of the products;
• all the detailed drawings and specifications of the work and the materials (for construction); and
• your expectation of delivery time, should you choose the purchases goods or services from that business.
4. Comparing quotes – think more than money
When comparing quotes, money should not be the only factor. You should also consider the businesses’;
• Reputation; and
• After sales service.
You can always negotiate with your chosen business on price. Consumers should also consider the brand, durability and reputation of different products offered by businesses.
5. Ask questions
• If the quotes vary a lot in price, it is worth asking why;
• Check the redress policies; and
• Get clarification for any other query you may have.
While consumers must always be vigilant, businesses also have responsibilities towards their customers. While supplying quotes businesses must;
• Honour their agreement made through the quote;
• Not use aggressive sales tactics such as lying to consumers that they have a limited number of stocks;
• Supply the goods as services as per agreed timeline and terms and conditions stated in the quote; and
• Declare the validity period of the quote. The Council has come across instances where the validity period is not disclosed.
The Consumer Council of Fiji is urging all consumers to be SMART shoppers and always to be vigilant while shopping. If consumers come across any dubious traders or deals, they are encouraged to call the Council’s toll-free number 155 or lodge a complaint through the Consumer Council of Fiji mobile app. Alternatively, consumers can lodge a complaint by emailing to Complaints@consumersfiji.org