12 consumers registered complaints against businesses for unfair trade

12 consumers registered complaints against businesses for unfair trade

The CCAA had facilitated refunds of Nu 16.343.23 to three consumers during this month

The Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (CCAA) received a total of 12 complaints from consumers against businesses for unfair trade practices during the month of July 2023. Of these, seven cases have been successfully resolved by the CCAA, while the remaining five complaints are currently under investigation and redressal.

The most frequent type of complaint was related to breaches of terms and conditions, accounting for seven cases, followed by two complaints regarding price misrepresentation and three complaints under other unethical business practices.

According to an official from the CCAA, businesses can breach consumer terms and conditions in various ways. One common breach occurs when a business fails to deliver goods or services within the agreed-upon timeframe, or supplies substandard quality products. In such cases, consumers have the right to demand the promised level of service and product quality outlined in the terms and conditions.

“In some cases, businesses may have more bargaining power than individual consumers, allowing them to impose terms and conditions that heavily favor their own interests,” the official said, adding that consumers may feel trapped or disadvantaged, leading to frustration and a higher likelihood of complaints.

Another type of breach arises when consumers are charged for goods, services, or additional fees that were not disclosed or agreed upon in the terms and conditions. This constitutes misleading advertising and is a violation of consumer rights. Deceptive or false advertising by businesses, misrepresenting the characteristics, features, or benefits of a product or service, is seen as a breach of terms and conditions.

The CCAA also stresses that businesses must stick to the warranty or guarantee specified in the terms and conditions for defective products or services. Failure to do so constitutes a breach, and consumers have the right to seek resolution or compensation.

Furthermore, safeguarding consumer privacy is of utmost importance. If a business shares or sells personal information without consent, it constitutes a breach of the terms and conditions. Additionally, insufficient security measures leading to data breaches or unauthorized access to consumer information are also considered breaches.

Meanwhile, there are two types of complaints generally received by the CCAA: individual consumer complaints and general unfair trade practices. The official said that the individual complaint refers to a specific grievance or concern raised by an individual consumer regarding a particular transaction, product, or service. “It typically involves a breach of terms and conditions, substandard quality, billing disputes, or other issues directly affecting the individual consumer.”

On the other hand, the general Unfair Trade practices or general complaints refer to broader patterns or systemic issues related to unfair or deceptive business practices. It encompasses practices that may harm multiple consumers or affect the market as a whole, such as false advertising, price fixing, misleading claims, or anti-competitive behavior.

“While individual consumer complaints address specific grievances of individual consumers, general unfair trade practices tackle broader issues that impact multiple consumers or the market as a whole. Both are important aspects of consumer protection and are treated seriously,” the official said.

During the month, the CCAA conducted market price surveillance, covering 235 shops dealing with essential food commodities within Thimphu Thromde. The report stated that the prices of goods remained stable with no significant changes compared to the previous month.

In response to the complaints, the CCAA facilitated refunds totaling Nu 16,343.23 to three consumers in July.

Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu