Consumer rule allows returns, compensation for defects

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A new mandate will take effect in the next month attempting to ensure that products and services meet quality standards. The Trade Competition and Consumers’ Authority (TCCPA) announced the new rule at Ethiopia Hotel, on Thursday, April 3, 2014, where around 120 concerned participants, including consumer associations brainstormed ideas to improve the new directive, which attempts to clarify the rights of consumers. 
Now consumers will have 15 days to notify the merchant that sold them a defective product about a problem. According to the new rule, the business must return the money or replace the item with a new one. If the merchandise causes an injury both the merchant and the factory, which produced the goods, could be liable. If a product is delinquent the seller could be forced to pay transportation costs or compensate for trade losses. If a consumer is still unsatisfied they still have a year to file a complaint with the agency.
A product is considered to be of poor quality if it is not able to do what it was built for, doesn’t have information about it, lacks ingredients or was stored in inappropriate locations. There are also other quality standards in the new rule.
During his presentation, Girma Alema, consumer affairs director of TCCPA, said people need to better understand their rights when shopping.
“There is little public awareness about consumers’ rights so most of them are subject to unfair trade practices. There are only 116 consumer associations and 10 consumer unions in Addis Ababa,” he said.
Merkebu Zeleke, director general of the authority, agreed that they want the public to become better informed.
“The main point of the discussion was to raise the public’s awareness of their rights,” he said.
According Merkebu, his bureau is also preparing a regulation that will bestow the agency more authority. It is expected to be sent to the council of ministers by the end of the current fiscal year.
In 2013 it established a court, whose justices are directly appointed by the Prime Minister. Since its establishment the court saw 45 consumer protection and unfair trade cases.