By Victoria Ojeme
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, FCCPC has joined the rest of the world to mark World Consumer Rights Day at major Smartphone market in Banex Plaza, FCT, Abuja.
The idea was to bring the market regulator, FCCPC and dealers to a round table with a view to find common grounds of collaboration to serve the consumers of smartphones better.
The theme of this year’s celebration is: Trusted Smart Products.
In his address, the Chief Executive Officer of FCCPC, Mr. Babatunde Irukera said so many fake and substandard smartphones find their way into the market due to lack of collaboration between his organization and dealers, who serve as middlemen between the manufacturers and end users.
“To address influx of substandard smartphones in Nigerian market, FCCPC and traders must synergise to fish out those responsible for importation and distribution of fake products in the market.
‘‘Most times, consumers complain of short-changed after purchasing items. There is need for collaboration between FCCPC and traders to nip the menace in the bud.
‘‘Having World Consumer Rights day is important to us. The reason is that most constitutions across the world do not capture consumer’s rights as a human right because the nature of business is always trying to make profit.
‘‘It is very important we recognise what the rights of consumer are. One of the problems we have today is that consumer rights are being neglected that is why we are recognising the consumer today.
‘‘With all that have been put in place, most consumers are now aware of their rights. It is important they understand their rights and understand the motivation and enforcement mechanism that are available.
‘‘It is an avenue to ensure that those whose duties it is to respect the rights of consumers do so and also the manufacturers of products to realise that consumers have rights to protect and ensure satisfaction.
Banex is a hub of smartphones and other IT gadgets. We are here to speak to the dealers of these products. Though, the manufacturers are not here, their dealers are here because they communicate with them with whatever information they get from us about their products.’’
On why FCCPC focuses more on consumer rights, Irukera described FCCPC as a non-biased organised that protects both the rights of consumers and that of dealers as well as manufacturers.
He challenged smartphone dealers across the country to identify fake product dealers since they buy and sell them to consumers.
‘‘That is why FCCPC will stop at nothing to raid markets to protect the mutual interests of all parties.
You must ensure every trader has knowledge of products he sells. You have no excuse whatsoever to sell substandard products to unsuspecting customers,’’ he advised.
In his remarks, Chairman of Tenant of Banex Traders Association, Mr. Chibuike Nzedinma said having warrantee centre or care centre services for smartphone users is not enough to guarantee customer rights. He challenged FCCPC to come up with standard templates for all products to enable traders to be in tune with them in regulating the smartphones.
For him, FCCPC must go deeper in knowing the specifications of products since they differ from country to country rather than blaming traders for the influx of fake and sub-standard smartphones.
‘‘FCCPC come back to us to know the feedbacks we got from our consumers and manufacturers of these products. Aside from the warrantee centres, I really do not know any other thing they have done. I believe that to some extents, the consumers are being taken care of off through the care centres.
‘‘FCCPC should find a way to liaise with the manufacturers of these products, the wholesalers distributors and retailers of these products before standards are set. We are the ones that relate with customers in this market and do know what they want.
‘‘A customer wants his privacy to be protected in every smartphone. This should be sacrosanct. And is something manufacturers should work on. I have also noticed that dealers and consumers do not sometimes know the specifications of some of the smartphones as it differs from country to country.
‘‘When users use smartphones, they use emails, facebook, whatsapp and other social media channels and leave their pass words there. They should not in any way be leaked to the public. More of this should be done.’’
On his part, Chairman, National Association of Nigerian Traders, FCT, Prince Edozie Ugwu, insisted that proper measure should be put in place where any substandard product that is bought by any consumers should have a proper place to channel complaints. He advised the FCCPC to set up a desk officer in all the sensitive public places like markets and airports so that should there be a complaint by a customer, the person can easily table them at the designated complain centres.
He also advocated that there must be a proper punishment for those engaging in fake products because this for him is the only way that people will be restrained from bringing in fake and substandard products into the country.
‘‘If there is no punishment the person will at the end keep bringing in this substandard products. If there is a punishment for an offender, I am sure next time that person will not bring in substandard products.’’
Highlights of the event was an overview on how customers can identify fake products.
According to FCCPC, for a customer to differentiate between fake and original smartphones, he must look out for the packaging, labelling, date of manufacturing and country of origin.