Know Your Rights As A Consumer
The UAE’s consumer protection law has laid down the general rules regarding the rights of consumers and established the necessary mechanisms to implement the law. The law also foresees a smooth economic movement and enables transparency in the financial transactions in which both consumers and producers are integral parts.
Consumer protection law in each country is built upon the contract law principle, Caveat emptor. The Latin phrase, which is often used as a proverb in English, means, “Let the buyer be aware.” However, the expanding market compelled the introduction of various extensions to this principle. The extensions were essential because of the way markets started to evolve with the changing times.
The advertising industry, which initially played the role of informing consumers about the goods and services, later began to exaggerate the uses and benefits to stay ahead in the market. These unfair and deceptive practices lead to the evolution of statutory measures to make producers and marketers more accountable to consumers.
Most of the world legislation long recognized the need to create consumer-centric laws to ensure the health, safety, and interest of consumers. Caveat Emptor is thus slowly replaced with ‘Consumer sovereignty’ or popularly known as ‘Consumer is king.’
The UAE heavily derives its consumer protection law from Roman, French, and Egyptian laws. Thus, UAE, too, followed suit and developed new consumer protection laws to ensure healthy competition, discourage monopoly, and prevent commercial fraudulence.
For the simplification, we have divided this article into 5 sections, that include:
- Introduction to The Emirati Consumer Protection Law
- Purchasing Goods and services
- Purchasing Used Goods
1. Introduction to the Emirati Consumer Protection Law
The Consumer Protection Law No. 24 of 2006 covers the general rules for consumer protection and tackles issues related to:
- the rights of the consumer
- responsibilities and liabilities of consumers, producers, and other intermediaries.
The law specifies how to establish the necessary mechanisms to activate the Law’s role in the economic movement while ensuring transparency in commercial transactions.
Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA)
Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA) is a federal entity that provides guidelines for safety and quality measures for products (made in the UAE or imported). The authority also imposes regulatory standards on special products related to chemicals, gas, and electrical devices. Its guidelines and regulations are as per the common global standards adopted for the protection of consumers, markets, and the environment.
What is the consumer?
A consumer is a person (or group) who buys, intend to buy, or use goods or services produced by a seller (i.e., company, shop, organization) either for personal, social, family, or similar needs.
According to the UAE consumer protection law, there is a list of basic consumer rights outlined to protect consumers.
Basic Consumer Rights
- The right to be protected: To be protected against products, the production process of goods, and services that can be dangerous to consumers.
- The right to be informed: To be informed of the facts that assist them in making sound purchase and consumption decisions. Moreover, to be protected against false and deceitful advertising.
- The right to choose: To have access to a range of alternative goods and services. In industries where there is no competition, government regulations must regulate the market to ensure quality and reasonable pricing.
- The right to be heard: To be assured that the interests and the opinions of the consumers are heard and get rightful representation before the concerned bodies when it comes to developing goods and services.
- The right to have basic needs met: To be assured of the availability of essential services and goods, such as food, clothes, shelter, healthcare, and education.
- The right to be compensated: To be assured of receiving a fair settlement of their legitimate claims. For example, compensation for poor goods, unsatisfactory services, or practices that prove harmful to consumers.
- The right to be educated: To have access to receive the necessary knowledge and skills to wisely use goods and services, as well as the right to be aware of their basic rights and responsibilities.
- The right to safety: To be protected against the goods and services that may be hazardous to health and safety.
The Role of the Government in Protecting the Consumers:
- Guide and educate the consumers for raising awareness about consumers’ rights and responsibilities.
- Preserve and defend the consumers’ rights by upholding consumers’ issues and protecting them from all kinds of fraud, counterfeiting, overpricing, and other goods/services related to fraud.
- Ensure the framework to receive consumers’ complaints and provide essential services required to protect the consumers’ interests and rights across communication channels.
- Propose, implement, and update consumer protection laws and regulations.
- Refer to all unsettled disputes to the dispute resolution committee or other competent judicial bodies.
- Encourage research and studies, organize events, and arrange exhibitions on consumer protection to educate concerned departments.
- Represent the consumer before local and international committees when required for cases related to consumer protection.
2. Purchasing Goods and Services
What are the basic conditions that must be present in the goods and services?
- It must have a satisfactory level of quality.
- The specifications must match the description provided by the producer or the seller or those demanded by the consumer in writing.
- It should be safe to use.
- It must be free from any hidden defects that may reduce its value, harm the consumer, or make it unusable for the original purpose it was purchased.
- It must be fulfilling the purpose for which it was purchased and which the consumer has been previously informed via an advertisement or in the contract.
- It must match the description presented by the producer or seller on its cover.
- The instructions to use it must be clear and expressed using easy to understand language.
What must all things be mentioned on the cover or labels on the goods?
The containers or cover of the products must clearly mention the following attributes in easy to understand Arabic description:
- Type, nature, and ingredients.
- Production or packaging date.
- Expiry date.
- Net weight.
- The full name of the country of origin must be mentioned with the suffix “Made in.” (no flag must be included other than the country of origin)
- Country of export, if any.
- Address of marketing firm.
- Address of manufacturing firm.
- How to use the product (if required).
- The measurement unit.
- Arabic description of the product’s usage and risks associated.
Does the consumer have the right to request the bill when purchasing any goods or services?
It is not just the right but also the consumer’s responsibility to get the bill when they make a purchase. The absence of a bill can weaker your position to file a consumer complaint. Similarly, the supplier must provide the consumer with a bill in Arabic. The bill is tangible proof that the transaction was fulfilled, or the contract entered is obliged. No further financial amounts can be charged to the consumer.
The bill must contain the following information:
- The supplier’s name and address.
- The goods and services definition.
- The sale unit.
- The number of units sold.
- The price in UAE Dirhams.
- The guarantee must be mentioned (if applicable).
- The measurable goods and services must contain weighing, counting, or measuring units. If the commodity is previously packaged, the consumer may request the supplier to weigh, measure, or count the commodity again in his/her presence.
- Suppliers must provide after-sale services, such as providing spare parts and maintaining durable commodities. The time fixed for this is a minimum period of five years or for a period commensurate with the nature of the commodity.
What are the rights of the consumer when purchasing in installments?
In the case of the installment sale, the producer must include additional details:
- The total amount to be paid, including installments.
- The actual price and how the interests are calculated.
- Start date of the interest calculation.
- The number of installments to be paid and the amount of each installment.
- Period of installments.
- The advance payments, if any.
- The penalties for late/non-payments of the installments that can be imposed on the buyer.
- The rights and obligations of the contracting parties must include instructions to own or dispose of the goods and services during the installment period.
- A statement that proves the consumer has read and accepted the additional details.
Can the consumer choose how defective commodities are processed?
The consumer has the right to replace or get the products fixed if they can prove the product has a hidden defect. The consumer can also request for a refund, provided the period the consumer used the product is taken into consideration. If the consumers can prove the product’s defect, they have the right to use the product till the supplier provide them a replacement or refund the bill amount. In case the supplier offers to repair the good, they must provide you a replacement to use till the actual product is fully functional again.
What do we mean by “Service”?
The service is a transaction between the supplier and the consumer for conducting a specific work without exchanging physical goods. The service must provide benefits to all parties. The service is intangible in nature.
The guidelines recommend that the consumer must discuss all the contract details before finalizing the contract. Some examples of services are taxi services, IT services, and maintenance workshops, among others.
What are the service specifications for the service provider?
- Conduct the job professionally and skillfully as per the common code of conduct in the industry.
- Suppliers must charge a proper fee as per the industry standards if the parties have not previously fixed the fee.
- Suppliers must provide the service within a reasonable time frame if the parties have not previously fixed the specific time.
What happens if the service provider fails to provide the service?
In case of failure to provide service, the supplier either returns the amount paid by the consumer or performs the service again, according to the consumer’s instructions.
3. Purchase of Used Goods
What are the supplier’s obligations for selling used goods?
The law shows no distinction between consumers buying new goods or used ones. Both kinds of consumers enjoy similar rights. Supplier selling used, refurbished, or goods with defects must keep their consumers informed. The used goods must not pose any danger to the buyers’ health and safety. The law also mentions that the supplier needs to mention the goods’ condition either on the package or the goods themselves. The supplier also needs to make sure that the contract and bill must also indicate the good’s condition.
What are the recommendations of the government when purchasing a used product?
- Do not buy goods or services on impulse.
- Always inspect the quality of the product and contract before making the final call.
- Bring someone else with you to inspect the commodity, assess its quality, and witness the contract.
- Suppliers need to clearly mention the detailed description of the products and their conditions in the agreement. They also need to ensure that agreement is signed by all the parties to avoid any issues in the future. The agreement needs to contain two main things: ownership of the product and its transfer from the seller to the consumer.
- Come to an agreement with the supplier on who will bear additional expenses such as transport, installation, or other costs.
- Always bring a knowledgeable person with you while you visit to inspect the goods or products.
4. The Guarantees
What are the guarantees and conditions associated with it?
It is a written or implied acknowledgment that a supplier guarantees the consumer that the goods or service is free from any defects and adheres to the appropriate standards set by the industry. The conditions of the guarantee are as follows:
- The conditions must be specific and must contain details, duration, and defects being covered.
- The consumer must be made aware of the conditions before he/she makes the purchase.
- The conditions mentioned must not limit the seller’s or manufacturer’s responsibility.
- The condition manual must include all the details required to submit a complaint.
5. The Complaint
What is the procedure to submit a complaint to the seller or manufacturer?
- Submit a written complaint and keep a copy.
- Highlight the defect or problems faced with goods or services.
- Mention your intention and objective to submit the complaint.
- Request the supplier to take the necessary action to fix the problem.
- Determine the time frame for the required action or request the seller to respond with the time frame.
How to submit a complaint to the authorities?
Irrespective of the emirate you are residing in, there are some common essentials of a complaint that you must mention:
- Name of the complainant.
- Contact information, including phone number, address, and email id.
- A purchase invoice or any other document that proves the commercial transaction between you and the other party.
Where can the consumer file complaint?
All Emirates have the Department of Economic Development (DED), which deals with consumer rights issues. The departments are also responsible for the implementation of plans and procedures related to consumer protection laws. It receives consumer complaints and raises consumer awareness about their rights and duties.
The contact details are as follow:
|Online: https://consumerrights.ae/ (click to register complaint)
DED Mobile App: Download Dubai Consumers and file a complaint
Phone: Call on consumer protection hotline 600 545555
|Online: https://added.gov.ae/en/Consumer- Protection (for information)
Phone: Call on Abu Dhabi Government Contact Centre 800555
|Online: https://eservices.sedd.ae/ (click to file a complaint)
Phone: Call on 800 80000
|Ajman Consumer Complaints
Phone: Call on 800 70
|Ministry of Economy
Phone: Call on 09223330
|Ras Al Khaimah
Phone: Call on 072271222
WhatsApp: Send SMS on 0504321966
|Umm Al Quwain
Phone: 06 7652200
To ensure that you receive the best solution for your complaint as a consumer, you need to fulfill certain obligations and responsibilities. Always make sure that you keep the purchase invoice, the guarantee card, or any other document that proves you purchased the goods or services. As your civil case lawyers, we also request that you provide us with accurate and specific information in the complaint. The information can enable us to create a strong representation on your behalf.