x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Retail 'cops' coming to Dubai malls

Mall cops are coming to the UAE as Dubai seeks to protect consumer rights.

Consumer protection teams will soon be in Dubai malls to referee shopper-retailer disputes.

The Government is to roll out temporary Consumer Protection Centres in malls over the next two months, which will be extended to more traditional shopping areas such as the souqs throughout next year.

Customers can make complaints about purchases and the centre's consumer protection officers will work to resolve the issue there and then with a store managers.

"It's very easy to fine retailers," said Mohammed Lootah, the deputy chief executive of the Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection division at the Department of Economic Development (DED). "But we are taking the difficult path because we think you have to create a healthy environment for business in Dubai and protect the retailers too."

The consumer protection teams, which were introduced yesterday first in Mirdif City Centre, will be setting up on various dates in Dubai Mall, Dubai Festival City, Arabian Centre, Ibn Battuta Mall, Mall of the Emirates and Deira City Centre.

There will be an open discussion room at each centre to resolve disputes between store managers and shoppers, as well as a private room for more sensitive issues.

"We will get the person that has the decision-making ability," said Mr Lootah. "We will try to be proactive and decrease the number of complaints."

The DED received 2,700 complaints last year from customers about the retail sector, and 90 per cent of themcould have been resolved on the spot without fines, Mr Lootah said.

"The DED will uphold the rights of consumers and traders by inspecting retail shops and resolving any disputes that may arise," he said. "We will also work with concerned government authorities to control any negative trade practices."

Retail executives welcomed the move as a way to target unscrupulous peers.

"It will weed out those type of people who spoil the market," said Ishwar Chugani, the executive director for Giordano in the Middle East. "There are also many [retailers] bringing in fake stuff and inferior products."

Because of the high number of tourists who shop in Dubai, retailers said it was important that a customer's image of the sector not be tarnished by one bad experience with a retailer.

"It affects the whole of Dubai and the industry if a customer is treated badly," said Mr Chugani.

Poonam Chauhan, the brand manager for Mumbai Se, believes it is vital for retailers to educate consumers about their rights.

"Every retailer has some kind of complaint," she said.