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Park & Shop, customer tangle over returned goods

By Yinka Kolawole

Park & Shop, a highbrow supermarket along Adeola Odeku Street in Victoria Island, Lagos, has been accused by a customer of violating her rights by refusing to take back an item purchased from the shop.

A landscape architect, Jumoke Kassim, accused the management of Artee Industries Limited, owners of Park & Shop, of refusing to take back an article she bought from the shop which, according to her, did not meet up with her required demand. This is against global best practices which allow consumers to return a purchased item within a stipulated time frame, if found not to meet required demand.

Kassim claimed that she purchased an Acer Aspire Notebook from the shop in September 2008 and was informed by the salesperson, upon enquiries, that it was suitable for her job, claiming that it had ample hard disk memory space for her graphic work and others.

She, however, declared that upon unpacking the said Notebook when she got home, she discovered that it had an 8 GB hard disk space which capacity, according to her, was grossly inadequate for her letters much less her drawings and other graphic work.

Kassim claimed that she promptly returned the article to the shop either for a refund or in exchange for a Notebook with a larger memory capacity ready to add the difference in price, but was rudely refused by the manager.
When contacted, Mrs. Ify Umenyi, the Director-General of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), an agency set up by government to protect the rights of consumers in Nigeria, asserted that a consumer has the right to return purchased items that do not meet expected demand.

Her words: “Definitely. A consumer has the right to value for money and also the responsibility of ensuring that the right is respected. As such, he/she is expected to instantly return any purchase, either product or service that does not give the desired/required satisfaction.”

Indeed, the action of Park & Shop seems to be a clear violation of the rights of a consumer as listed on the website of the CPC which include: The right to be informed and protected against fraudulent, deceitful or misleading practices and to have access to accurate information and facts needed to make informed choices and decisions; The right to consumer education and to become a skilled and informed consumer capable of functioning effectively in the marketplace and; The right to redress and to be compensated for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.

Other rights listed by CPC are: The right to safety and protection from hazardous goods or services; The right to choose and have access to a variety of products and services at fair and competitive prices; The right to be heard and express and represent consumer interests in the making of economic and political decisions.
When contacted for their response to the allegation, the management of Park & Shop declined to speak to Vanguard, directing us to their lawyers instead, insisting that all matters pertaining to the development have been handed over to their lawyers, Messrs Tokunbo Sangosanya & Co.


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