Breach of terms and conditions top complaints 

In the fiscal year 2022–2023, CCAA facilitated a refund of Nu 1,817,682.00 and obtained Nu 164,603 as fines and penalties in collaboration with BFDA and RoEAs

The Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (CCAA), Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment, received a total of 139 complaints since July 2022. 

Within the three-months this year, the CCAA received a total complaint of 36, of which the breaches of term and condition top the complaints with 16.  

Jigme Dorji, the chief program officer of CCAA said, the reason for highest number of compliant related to breaches of term and condition could be because of lack of clarity or complex terms and condition.

The terms and conditions in the documents are often lengthy and filled with legal jargons, making it challenging for consumers to fully understand their rights and obligations. “This lack of clarity may lead to unintentional violations and subsequently, complaints,” the chief program officer added. 

“The breaches of term and conditions includes various other violations, including non- delivery which occurs when a business fails to deliver the goods or services that a consumer has paid for within the agreed-upon timeframe,” according to the chief program officer.

The supply of substandard quality also falls under the complaint of breaches of term and condition. The officer said, “If the goods or services provided by a business do not meet the expected or promised quality standards outlined in the terms and conditions, it can be considered a breach.”

Additionally, unauthorized charges, misleading advertising, failure to honor warranty, non-compliance with refund policies, privacy violations and breach of security are all classified as breaches of terms and conditions, according officer.  

Meanwhile, of the 139 complaints, 85 are from Thimphu Thromde, recording the highest number of complaints, followed by Paro with 11 complaints.

CCAA received 7 complaints from Thimphu Dzongkhag, 4 from Punakha, 3 complaints each from 5 districts, 2 complaints each from 6 districts, and one each from 5 dzongkhags.

Within the period of 11 months, from Bumthang, Gasa, Gelephu, Haa, and Tsirang, the CCAA hasn’t received any complaints.

The officer said that most of the complaints are received from males (62), 49 from females, and 28 from anonymous which is general unfair trade.

Within the fiscal year 2022–2023, CCAA facilitated a refund of Nu 1,817,682.00 and fined and penalized a total of Nu 164,603 in collaboration with BFDA and RoEAs.

The officer said, “The administrative actions taken by CCAA are rectification of unfair trade practices, imposing fines, and/or cancellation of business licenses.”

Additionally, the redressal of individual complaints is done through the facilitation of repair, replacement, and refund.

He also added that to address such issues and promote better compliance, the CCAA has been carrying out interventions such as consumer education. “The CCAA has undertaken proactive measures to educate and raise awareness among consumers regarding the significance of reading and comprehending terms and conditions before entering business transactions.”

Refund/Cancellation Policy and redressal mechanism interventions are also taken to redress issues or disputes arising due to breaches of terms and conditions.

The officer said that it is important for businesses to ensure that their terms and conditions are clear, fair, and accessible to consumers.

“Likewise, consumers should make an effort to understand and familiarize themselves with the terms and conditions before engaging with a business to minimize the likelihood of breaches and subsequent complaints,” an officer added.

A breach of terms and conditions refers to the violation or non-compliance with the agreed-upon terms and conditions set by a business entity. The breach could be a failure to deliver the goods and services as assured by the business entity or a violation of the contractual agreement between a consumer and the business entity.

Individual consumer complaints, which refer to a specific grievance or concern raised by an individual consumer regarding a particular transaction, product, or service, and general unfair trade practices (general complaints), which refer to broader patterns or systemic issues related to unfair or deceptive business practices, are two types of complaints listed under the CCAA.

Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu