Sin Chew Daily
Protection of consumer rights is becoming increasingly important these days, and the government has every obligation to ensure that consumers will not be exploited or oppressed by irresponsible businesses.
To further protect the rights of consumers, the domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism ministry is prepared to amend the Trade Descriptions Act 2011 in a bid to implement the Single Pricing Policy (SPP).
Under SPP, the traders will only be allowed to display the final selling prices that include service charges and GST, among others, meaning there will not be any supplementary or hidden charges allowed.
Supplementary and hidden charges have become a very common trap in modern-day consumerism. The reason for this is to draw the attention of consumers with outwardly low prices, and then slowly entice them into buying the products.
Where commercial operation is concerned, this is a kind of marketing tactic which is not really fair to the consumers because to a very large extent the consumers have to rely on pricing information as a point of reference whether to patronize a business.
Once the SPP is introduced, consumers will be able to more accurately grasp the pricing information and use this as a criteria to make a wise purchasing decision.
SPP aside, the domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism ministry will also amend the Consumer Protection Act 1999 to tighten rules governing credit sales, including enforcing fixed interest rate to ensure that consumers are treated fairly.
We have seen a surge in credit sales in recent years, some carrying interests as high as 30-35%. The ministry is of the view that such rates have been unrealistically high and must be reined in.
The government's move to amend the acts to protect consumer rights should be commended. In the meantime, consumers must also bear the responsibility of taking the initiative to safeguard their own rights. For instance, they should report any inappropriate acts of profiteering businesses to the authorities.
It is believed that with the cooperation between consumers and the government, irresponsible traders will be booked, and consumers will be able to spend their money in a more transparent and fair market environment.
Going further, it is by no means easy to create a fair and healthy consumer environment in a highly complicated commercial market. This requires close cooperation between the government and the consumers.
Protecting consumer rights does not mean the interests of traders are sacrificed. It is impossible for the ministry to wholly lean towards the consumers without taking into consideration the deserved profits of traders.
As a matter of fact, a transparent, friendly and fair market environment will not only benefit the consumers, but will also boost their confidence and stimulate consumption growth.