Consumerism 2-A A +A
An Independent View
Monday, March 18, 2013
FOLLOWING on from last week's article, I would like to illustrate lessons that can be learnt by all parties in a situation where the consumer may have been wronged.
Assuming that the consumer is an individual and has purchased an allegedly defective item in a retail context, then the situation is straightforward if the consumer and retailer reach agreement. This is often the case where the retailer replaces an obviously defective item.
The consumer needs to be very aware of the Latin aphorism -caveat emptor- let buyer beware. So the consumer needs to take precautions. Never trust the spoken word, particularly if there is reluctance on the part of the seller to put salient points in writing. Examine the character of the people or organization with whom one is dealing. As far as the latter is concerned, being well known is not necessarily a recommendation. Large organizations, particularly suspect ones, are adept at burying the truth. They may have legal departments that lie, and employ public relations firms that are skilled at damage control when the truth cannot be concealed. Sadly, we have media that are easily manipulated by carrots and sticks. Carrots are when the media receive 'freebies'; sticks are when a bullying organization threatens the media with a withdrawal of advertising revenue if the media says anything that may be construed as being critical of the organization. Sun.Star readers may be reassured that my articles have never been tainted by external pressures. Furthermore Sun.Star has never allowed pressures put on it to be transferred to me. I take the 'independent' in 'independent view' very seriously.
Then there is the seller. If the seller is an organization as opposed to an individual, then difficulties may occur if anything goes wrong. Organizational inertia, elusiveness, evasiveness and deceit can be powerful weapons against a lone individual customer who is aggrieved by shoddy goods and/or conduct.
Independent third parties are necessary. Consumerism falls under the purview of a number of government departments, particularly the Department of Trade and Industry. Recently, we bought a product which turned out to be seriously defective and not fit for the purpose for which it was sold. We emailed the company stating the problem. We also copied in DTI in the email.
Nanoseconds later, we received a reply. Not from the company that sold defective items but from DTI. We salute Nic Abad, DTI Regional Director for Region 6 and his staff. Since the defective product constituted a health hazard, DTI passed on our observations to the Department of Health who, equally efficiently, obtained full details from us. Our case is now being scheduled for a conciliation/mediation hearing.
Our email was not acknowledged by the company which did not contact us until it received notification of the mediation meeting. The quality control manager who telephoned us claimed not to have received our email. This means the company is not taking communications from wronged consumers seriously enough. Perhaps it will do so in future.
So DTI has significant added value by forcing organizations to respond to aggrieved consumers. We believe this is important since it has leveled the playing field whereby errant organizations can no longer blithely ignore situations where imperfections are drawn to their attention.
I have not named names since the case has not yet been completed.
Sub judice is a valid concept and I was surprised that Judge Miguel Asuncion, who is hearing the Marvin Reglos hazing case, in granting bail to two of the accused, took a swipe at the prosecution's performance so far. 'Not a shred of evidence that proves or tends to prove how the deceased died was given, he said. The Nation is watching and both the Judicial Branch and the Department of Justice are being monitored. So far, we give a failing grade to both for failing to deal with the case timeously. [Reglos died on 19 February 2012].
A future article will describe in more detail our case which is being handled by DOH.
'Merely innocent flirtation, Not quite adultery, but adulteration' -Lord Byron (1788-1824)
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 18, 2013.