Dubai:The Department of Economic Development (DED) on Tuesday gave all online portals registered in the UAE three months to post the consumer protection helpline number on their websites or face fines and blocks to online accounts.
Omar Bushahab, Chief Executive Officer of the Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection (CCCP) division at the DED, confirmed websites registered under the .ae domain name, or representing companies headquartered in Dubai, have been given the deadline to display the DED consumer complaints helpline number — 600 545555 — when they offer goods or services for purchase online.
Online shoppers across the UAE are protected by the consumer protection law and the government will take action if consumers’ rights have been breached
He added: “Online shoppers across the UAE are protected by the consumer protection law and the government will take action if consumers’ rights have been breached by businesses operators, and it will lead to heavy fines as well as blocking their website via UAE Communication and Regulatory Authority.”
DED initiatives aim to lay down a clear framework to cover certain legal aspects of electronic commerce in the internal market.
While e-commerce is growing, obstacles to consumer confidence remain, Bushahab said.
In the first five months of 2012, the department received 200 consumers’ complaints regarding e-commerce transactions.
Most of these were against business retailers who violated the conditions of selling deals or delayed delivering the goods.
In May, the DED recorded 54 violations related to e-Commerce where websites were posting deceptive commercial promotions, or advertising without licensing and selling fake goods.
Most of these violations were reported against real estate agents followed by retailers and several massage and beauty centre, who posted obscene promotions on their websites, he said.
Consumers should enjoy as much protection in eCommerce as in other transaction modes, Bushahab said.
“Businesses will have one set of standards for commercial communications on their websites and via traditional commerce.
“A significant level of retailing happens online in Dubai nowadays and the number of such transactions is growing. Online purchases are seen as more convenient and the choices are varied.
“The UAE being the leader in internet usage in the region and the easy availability of credit cards in the country, makes it easier to shop online,” Bushahab said.
There are more than 100 websites offering e-commerce facilities in the UAE and as per available estimates up to March 2012, the value of online purchases in the UAE crossed Dh7 billion.
“DED monitors all sales activity and works with retail outlets to ensure a progressive retailing environment in Dubai.
“We consider it important that any business is transacted in a responsible and sustainable manner, with due regard to quality, integrity and the consumer’s right to know and have his legitimate complaints duly redressed,” Bushahab added.