Abdulla Al Shehi, Director of Compliance and Consumer Protection; Mohammed Lootah, Deputy CEO, Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection Division; and Adel Al Helou, Head of Consumer Protection section
The Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection Division at the Department of Economic Development (DED) has successfully concluded a consumer rights awareness programme for retailers in Dubai, with participants overwhelmingly supporting broader awareness initiatives including joint sessions with consumers.
Nearly 1,700 retailers covering key businesses and trade groups such as gold & jewellery, electronics, automobiles and textiles attended the sessions held across nine malls in Dubai over 25 days in April 2011. The programme aimed to build awareness on the Consumer Law No. (24) 2006 and international policies governing refund, exchange, warranty, invoice and other aspects of retailing.
Retailers who participated in the sessions strongly endorsed the idea of a “Blue Book” on consumer rights policies and dispute resolution as well as a “hotline” between retailers and DED to ensure quick response to customer requests and complaints.
The sessions were led by experts from the Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection Division. Feedback from the awareness programme conducted in 2010 and insights drawn from the most common consumer complaints over the past year were factored into this year’s sessions.
Most of the participants in the programme highlighted demands for exchange or refund as the major cause of disagreements with consumers. Joint awareness sessions among consumers and retailers, backed by case studies, was suggested as a means of minimising such concerns.
Over 80 per cent of the participants expressed satisfaction over the structure, content and delivery of the awareness sessions. DED’s role in consumer rights protection was rated as effective by nearly 94 per cent of the participants.
Awareness among retailers on their role and responsibilities towards consumers also appeared to be high and 17 per cent of the participants said they had attended the previous year’s sessions, indicating continuing interest in the programme.
“Consumer protection is all the more important for Dubai given the strategic role of trading and retail in our economy. Cordial relations between retailers and customers lead to improved consumer confidence and eventually to better business outcomes. The consumer rights awareness sessions we organise are part of DED’s overall strategy to improve the business environment in Dubai and cement the emirate’s reputation as one of the world’s best shopping destinations in the world,” said Omar Bushahab, CEO of the Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection Division.
Other major recommendations from the participants this year included expanding the awareness sessions to cover other sectors; developing further retail policy guidelines in consultation with the top management in the sector; case studies on customer complaints and resolution to aid future studies, and awards for best performance in consumer rights protection.
“Our effort is to create a retail environment in line with the best international practices in consumer rights protection and dispute resolution. We will continue to organise awareness programmes to promote mutual trust and respect among retailers and consumers,” said Mohammed Lootah, Deputy CEO, Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection Division, DED.
The website of the Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection Division at DED, www.consumerrights.ae, acts as a reference guide on consumer protection. The website provides specific instructions for consumers, including extracts regarding the UAE’s directives on Consumer Law No. (24) 2006, the responsibilities of consumers, shopping advice, and pointers to consider before making complaints on purchases. The site also includes steps to help resolve consumers’ problems with a retailer / seller.
Consumers can also register a complaint at DED by sending an email to email@example.com, or by calling Ahlan Dubai on +971 600 545555.