Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 June 2019

E-commerce replaces cars as third most common Dubai consumer complaint

Ahead of GCC Consumer Protection Day, the public is encouraged to register complaints through new app

E-commerce is now the third most common cause for Dubai consumer complaints. istockphoto.com
E-commerce is now the third most common cause for Dubai consumer complaints. istockphoto.com

E-commerce is now the third most common subject of Dubai consumer complaints after services and electronics, taking the place of cars.

Ahead of the 14th GCC Consumer Protection Day, which opens today, with the theme of consumer-safe online shopping, UAE government authorities are urging retailers to follow the laws and consumers to lodge any complaints with the relevant consumer protection department.

“E-commerce is the vision of the future and it has to be done in the right way,” said Hashem Al Nuaimi, director of the UAE Ministry of Economy’s consumer protection department. “Anybody who does business online has to take approval from the economic department and legal government authorities.”

There were a total of 32,650 consumer complaints submitted to Dubai's consumer protection department in 2018 and 96 per cent of those were resolved to the satisfaction of the complainants.

The top complaints were related to the services sector, accounting for 24.2 per cent, followed by electronics (17.2 per cent), e-commerce (13.7 per cent) and cars (8.2 per cent). E-commerce complaints increased from 6.1 per cent in 2017, replacing cars for the number three spot.

With the new AI-driven Dubai Consumer app, the time it takes to resolve a complaint in the emirate has been significantly reduced.

“It used to take five days. Now it takes five minutes,” said Ahmed Al Zaabi, director of the consumer protection department at the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED).

Around 25 per cent of the 3,033 complaints made in January were submitted via the app, which was launched last year. Otherwise, complaints are submitted by calling the Ahlan Dubai number on 600 54 5555.

“The only challenge we face now is trust of the customer using this technology,” Mr Al Zaabi added.

The Dubai Consumer app asks questions in a chat format in Arabic or English to gather information from the consumer and analyses 42 consumer protection laws and policies. The consumer then receives an empowerment letter stating the details of the complaint, which can be taken directly to the retailer or company involved to resolve the issue. The merchant must take the necessary action within seven days of receiving the letter.

Mr Al Zaabi said the department monitors the app on a monthly basis and has seen “success in solving their cases without any human interaction”.

In Abu Dhabi, complaints can be filed in person at the Consumer Protection section of the DED or by calling 800555 or by e-mailing contact@abudhabi.ae.

If a case involves a breach of contract, the DED takes action by refunding the consumer and in some cases fining the company. In other cases, the consumer may be at fault for not reading the terms and conditions.

The DED has also introduced new regulations to control online businesses. Last year Dubai's DED launched an e-trader licence, which allows Emiratis and GCC citizens in the emirate to conduct business on social networking sites and enhances regulation.

Updated: March 2, 2019 04:25 PM

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