The Pakistani Spectator

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Consumer Protection in Pakistan

By Saleem Khan • Jul 17th, 2008 • Category: Politics • 9 Comments

Consumer protection laws are made to regulate ‘a private law-relationship between individual, consumers and the businesses that sell those goods and provide services’. These laws cover a wide range of topics, including product liability, privacy rights, unfair business practices, fraud, misrepresentation and other consumer/business interactions.The internationally recognized eight consumer rights include; satisfaction of basic needs, safety, choice, information, consumer education, redress, representation and a healthy environment. To simplify these laws further, we can say that these laws enable consumers to express their concerns for the food they eat, the medicines they take, the water they drink or the products they use at homes.

In every country, consumers are considered the core foundations of all business activities and to secure their interests become the paramount responsibility of the state, followed by legal punishment for violators. Manufacturers and service providers are made to tailor their operations with quality products and services, which are not only profitable but also ethical, for the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

But unfortunately, in Pakistan these laws were ignored or made trivial and the lack of friendly laws gave rise to diverse problems. Various leading organizations advocating for these laws include the Consumer Rights Commission of Pakistan (CRCP), The Network for Consumer Protection in Pakistan, Helpline Trust and Human Rights Group have said that lack of effective laws result in ‘artificial shortage of essential commodities, arbitrary price hikes, poor quality products and services, sale of hazardous products and misleading advertisements.

To tackle these problems, former governments took initial steps for protection of consumer rights. The first step was the enactment of Islamabad Consumer Protection Act in 1995. In 1997, the NWFP enacted a similar Consumer Protection law. These two laws, however, remained dormant because neither the rules of procedure were framed nor any Consumer Protection Council was established as was required under these laws. In the following years, Baluchistan and PunjabPunjab. provinces enacted their own Consumer Protection Acts in 2003 and 2005 respectively in the context of devolution power plan. The Government of NWFP also amended the 1997 law and vested powers with the District Coordination Officer (DCO). In Sindh, the Governor Sindh promulgated a Consumer Protection Ordinance in 2004, but it could not be enacted by the Provincial Assembly. The Ordinance was re-promulgated in February 2007. Until now, no significant progress has been made for implementation of these laws, except in Punjab.

Consumer protection organizations, governments, judiciary, print and electronic media are very active throughout the world by introducing consumer protection laws and consumer courts and ensuring that they are strictly enforced. It is not only the sole responsibility of government but the giant corporations or small manufacturers and consumer protection organizations should also share their onus by raising awareness among the masses.

“Due to the lack of Consumer Protection Laws and Enforcement of Existing Food and Drug Laws, Pakistan has become a dumping ground for semi expired and counterfeit food, beverages and medicines. Though there are over 300 brands of cooking oil and bottled water available in the markets in various sizes of tins, bottles and plastic cans, only 16 cooking oil manufacturers, 60 water bottlers, just 2 biscuit manufacturers and only one carbonated drinks manufacturer was registered with Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA),” says a latest report by Helpline Trust.

The consumers are also advised to ensure while shopping; buy from a reputed store, check manufacture and expiry date, net & gross weight, seals and packing, PSQCA logo on packing of cooking oils, bottle waters, biscuits and carbonated beverages and always demand a cash memo.


 
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9 Responses »

  1. fabulous presentation my ex friend .thumbs up .you are really matchless on such highlights.simple advise ,manage to concentrate on such issues it would be a sudqa_e_jaareea.at last my exchequer is on the best track at his magical cababilities to impress .regards

  2. It seems that Punjab government has read this post and going to take action on quality and quantity.

    NEWS:

    Unable to protect people against inflation, the Punjab government intends to ensure at least provision of products to them with right quality and quantity.

    The steps in this direction include improving the efficiency of consumer courts and quality of products, besides sensitising buyers to the ways and means to seek protection against substandard products with exorbitant prices.

    To get the desired results, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Wednesday asked the industries and home departments to submit proposals within two or three days so that necessary steps could immediately be taken for the welfare of people.

    Officials, after the meeting with the chief minister, said to begin with the government would start monitoring working of the 11 consumer courts working in the province to ensure provision of speedy justice to the consumers.

    The government would also try to make people aware that they (the courts) could provide them justice against substandard products.

    One such court is working at each of the headquarters of the defunct divisions, and one each in Sheikhupura, Sialkot and Sahiwal.

    The districts of the defunct divisions were attached to the courts at their headquarters level.

    The officials said the government would also consider establishing a consumer court in every district.

    They said the government would also devise means to check, under a crash programme, weights and measures so that people could get exact quantity of the commodities for which they were being charged highly.

    “The prices of oil are skyrocketing. We cannot lower them, but we are going to ensure that petrol pumps do not under measure their products,” the officials said.

    Over the years, they said, there had been no checking of weights and measures, giving a carte blanche to traders to plunder people by charging at will, and weighing or measuring less.

    The officials said the government would also check the endemic food adulteration, and defective products, through administrative and legal channels, dealing sternly with those found to be responsible for them.

    The officials also hinted at enhancing punishments for various related offences.

    “We are going to be on the side of people, making them realise that we are out to ensure the availability of products to them bearing the exact quality and quantity for which they are charged,” the officials said.

  3. very nice post . Keep it up. Awareness is required to change whole system of country. You are doing great job by putting your efforts in right direction.

  4. I placed an order online for a camera (Panasonic Lumix FS5) online to SHOPHIVE (www.shophive.com), an online shopping portal, on 25th August 2009. They promised free delivery and same day shipping through UPS Ground.

    I was promptly replied through phone/email by the shophive people; they confirmed the availability of the item and asked me to deposit the money (Rs. 13990) through bank transfer. Same amount was transferred to their account

    Next day I called Shophive to confirm the details. It was then that I was told that black camera is not available so either I have to wait or accept silver colour camera. I didn’t want to wait so accepted the available one. I was confirmed that the camera would be dispatched by TCS and I would receive it within a day.
    On 28th August, 3 days after booking, no deliveries were made and when I contacted Shophive, I was told that camera was shipped through AMS Couriers, a lesser known company and was given their contact number and consignment number. I called the courier office and I was told that they do not deliver, I have to pick up the parcel. On the same day I picked the parcel from AMS Couriers, Moti Plaza, Murree Road Rawalpindi.
    When I reached home and open the parcel, the camera and battery were missing from the parcel. The camera box was present with leads/cables and booklets/CDs but the camera was missing. I immediately called Shophive and later sent them an email.
    [Emails transcript available]
    I was asked by the company rep to contact the CEO Shophive, Arslan Nazir. I called him and he said that they are investigating the matter and camera was “hastily & erroneously” sent through this unknown “shady” company. I bought the story and asked for the next step. I was told that “Board of Directors” have decided to offer me 25-30% off if I still want to get another one. I was also asked to send the box back as they would use it for further investigations and filing a case against the couriers. I sent them the pack through TCS on 4th Sep 2009.

    After lot of correspondence with Shophive CEO over weeks, through which he was hesitant to reply and always have to be prompted many times to get one, I agreed conditionally to book another one and get 30% off. My conditions were that if they think that the couriers stole the camera, Shophive should take up the case and inform me.
    When I agreed to send them money again, they raised the price of camera to Rs. 15690. Even then, I sent them the money again through bank transfer. But after receiving the camera, for which I paid Rs. 10980 again, the Shophive plainly refused to follow up the case or return the lost camera remaining accessories which I sent to them.

    In the end, I lost Rs. 10980, paid extra to get the camera. On retrospective analysis, I am sure that the “lost” camera was not sent by the Shophive people in first place.

    I have launched complaint with CRCP and also serving them with legal notices.

  5. The judge district consumer court Multan ordered RS. 7000 as payment for

    treatment, RS.12000 council fee and RS. 2000 as miscellaneous expenses.

    Moreover he directed DCO Multan to seal the Arrahim Medical Store kaussar

    Arcade Nishter Road near Food Festival Multan immediately. He also

    directed EDO to cancel the license of said Medical tore. The main version

    of the petitioner Ilyas Mahmood was that he went to Medical store to buy

    some medicine. The owner of the medical store gave him wrong medicine

    instead of the medicine written on prescription.

  6. The judge district consumer court Multan ordered RS. 7000 as payment for

    treatment, RS.12000 council fee and RS. 2000 as miscellaneous expenses.

    Moreover he directed DCO Multan to seal the Arrahim Medical Store kaussar

    Arcade Nishter Road near Food Festival Multan immediately. He also

    directed EDO to cancel the license of said Medical tore. The main version

    of the petitioner Ilyas Mahmood was that he went to Medical store to buy

    some medicine. The owner of the medical store gave him wrong medicine

    instead of the medicine written on prescription.

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