x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

The right of complaint

Do customers like to complain or are retail stores suddenly bulging with shoppy goods?

You buy a cheap watch and an hour later it stops ticking. What do you do?

People are complaining a lot these days. The Dubai Consumer Protection Agency reports that it has received 2,300 complaints - mostly about refunds and the return of faulty goods - in the first quarter of this year. This compares to 2,900 complaints for the whole of 2010.

What's going on? Are retail stores suddenly bulging with shoddy goods? Or is it that customers just like to complain?

One reason for the sudden surge in complaints is a canny public relations campaign. The consumer protection agency conducted meetings with retail staff - selling electronics, car, clothing, jewellery and the like - and distributed posters on shop counters telling buyers what to do if they are lumbered with a purchase that refuses to work.

A vigorous official response also may have helped: 99 per cent of complaints lodged last year were reportedly resolved.

Next up is a "blue book". The consumer protection agency will publish policies on refunds, exchanges and warranties, along with ways to resolve complaints.

This is in line with an old rule of thumb: in order to fix a problem, first identify it.