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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Consumer complaints up 30 per cent as shoppers voice anger at VAT and refund troubles

More than 1,200 complaints submitted to Department of Economic Development concerned VAT charges

VAT was introduced in the UAE on January 1, 2018. Pawan Singh / The National
VAT was introduced in the UAE on January 1, 2018. Pawan Singh / The National

Consumer complaints over the amount of VAT charged on products accounted for 15 per cent of all disputes submitted to the Department of Economic Development in the first quarter of 2018.

From a total of 8,166 consumer complaints lodged with the DED, non-compliance with purchase agreements formed almost a third of all complaints (30 per cent) with 17 per cent of consumers complaining about disputes over cash refunds.

The department has received a daily average of 270 complaints, 30 per cent more than the first quarter of 2017. One in three complainants were reporting about poor service.

Mohammed Lootah, chief executive of the commercial compliance and consumer protection sector, said his department dealt with 1,007 issues, out of which consumer complaints accounted for 81 per cent.

"The retail sector is a key driver of local economic growth in Dubai and the UAE,” he said.

“Our effort is to bring greater transparency into business transactions, and create a culture of awareness and neutrality in the buying and selling processes in the retail sector, in accordance with the highest quality standards and practices.”

Product failure was the reason for more than 700 complaints, while 350 complaints were submitted for non-compliance with warranty items. Disputes over additional charges on products or services made up almost 3 per cent of all complaints.

Of the total number of complaints in the time period, 16.7 per cent were from the electronics sector whilst 10.7 per cent related to e-commerce.

A further 7.9 per cent were regarding vehicles and 6 per cent were about car rentals.

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Read more:

Bad maths and poor service: Abu Dhabi tax inspectors catch out stores during VAT visits

Fourteen Dubai retailers fined for exploiting VAT in December

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All other complaints concerned textiles, furniture, shipping, clothing and accessories.

In an online poll conducted by the DED, of almost a thousand people to have taken part to date – 84 per cent said they did not know how to officially complain about a product or service.

To make a complaint, consumers can approach CCCP by phone or email. On receiving a complaint, CCCP will contact each person involved to try and find a satisfactory resolution.

The department aims to resolve most complaints within 30 days, but that isn´t always possible, especially when the issue is complicated or there is a lack of co-operation from the parties involved.

“The DED and CCCP will immediately follow up on any complaints received, communicating with the parties concerned,” Mr Lootah said.

“We will work towards finding solutions acceptable to all parties concerned within a period not exceeding four working days from the date of receiving the complaint.”

Commercial compliance fines range from Dh250 for failure to renew a licence up to Dh20,000 for submitting false information.

To submit a complaint online, visit consumerrights.ae.

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