Every single retail outlet displays a yellow poster on consumer rights that seeks to spread awareness. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Finding out at home that the product you bought is defective should not stop you from exercising your rights as a consumer, a senior official said.

With the shopping season under way, thousands of retail transactions are conducted in Dubai daily. You may not have noticed, but every single retail outlet displays a yellow poster on consumer rights that seeks to spread awareness.

In 2012, the Consumer Protection Division received 8,700 complaints compared with 6,939 complaints in 2011. A senior official at the division said the increase reflects growing awareness about consumer rights in Dubai and people’s confidence that there are systems in place to protect those rights.

Abdul Aziz Bin Hathboor, Director of Consumer Protection at the Department of Economic Development in Dubai, told Gulf News that all goods are either subjected to a refund or exchange. Inspectors only follow up on complaints.

Some of the main issues the Department of Economic Development deals with, Bin Hathboor noted, are those pertaining to manufacturing defects, faulty products or those which are incompatible with the environment in the UAE.

“For example, if an air conditioner does not provide the required coolness because it is not manufactured to function properly in the UAE environment, then according to Federal Law No 24 of 2006, it is seen as a faulty product. Such a product needs to be either repaired or exchanged if repair is not possible, and if it cannot be exchanged the consumer is entitled to a refund. The same procedure applies to defective products,” he said.

However, customers are urged to play an active role in protecting their rights by understanding a product’s warranty, guarantee, storage and method of use before making a purchase, according to the Consumer Protection Department. Customers should always request a receipt and ensure that the details written on it are correct, and should understand the details of the after-sale services and warranties.

“Any claim for exchange or refund should be made within the warranty period specified by the manufacturer or as per UAE law if the manufacturer or the seller did not specify the warranty period,” Bin Hathboor explained.

“Services can also be considered faulty if they don’t match the warranty period given by the service provider. In such cases, the service provider should provide the expected service again or refund the service charge if the service fails to hold for the second time.”

Bin Hathboor pointed out that once the department takes up a complaint and makes a decision, the outlet has to abide by it or risk its licence being temporarily suspended. “Sometimes, a fine can be imposed if the offender does not cooperate when requested to present himself before the Consumer Protection division,” he said.