The Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP has penalized 46,580 bodies, including different companies and institutions, and fined them Tk 375,120,500 for anti-consumer right practices.
The government’s quasi-judicial organ to protect consumer rights has penalised these bodies on the basis of complaints by consumers and through suo motu action till September 29, 2018. It may be recalled that the consumers’ rights protection act became effective in 2009. In this period, the authorities conducted 12,886 market drives against unscrupulous traders.
“We initiate drives against the unscrupulous when we find any consumer rights being violated widely,” said Syed Tawhidur Rahman, a director of the DNCRP. He told Bangladesh Post that the body can punish any organization, suspend its license over any anti-consumer rights practice as per administrative powers provided in the consumer rights protection act.
He said the DNCRP can deal with a maximum number of cases, but some cases beyond its jurisdiction have to be transferred to the appropriate magistrate’s courts.
However, the number of drives has been going up day by day as the DNCRP has increased its monitoring, according to sources.
According to DNCRP data, the just-ended fiscal year 2017-18 witnessed the highest market drives, 4,077 in number, and fined 13,652 bodies TK 141,478,200. The number of drives was 3,437 in 2016-17 FY, and 1,394 in the 2015-16 fiscal year.
However, statistics show that the number of market drives has tripled over the last three years.
The current fiscal has seen the momentum during the July-September period such market drives reaching 1,324.
On the other hand, consumers are seen to be more conscious about their rights as they file complaints with the DNCRP under the consumers’ rights protection act when they confront any violations of the act.
The number of complaints filed increased about 34-fold over the last three years. It was 264 in number in FY 2014-15 but jumped to 9,019 in FY 2017-18.
The number of complaints was only 179 in the four years from 2010 to 2014 calendar year immediately after the act became effective.
However, the current fiscal has also seen 2,545 complaints filed already till September 30. That means every day more than 28 complaints are being filed on average.
“We are getting more responses from consumers, who are increasingly becoming more aware of their rights,” said an official of the DNCRP.
Manzur Morshed Chowdhury, a director of the body, told Bangladesh Post that currently the authorities can function in every district as there are offices working there.
58 assistant directors are working in the offices, though there are posts for 78.
Filling the gap can gear up the DNCRP’s activities, he asserted.
According to the act, any consumer can file a complaint if the person faces any anti-consumer rights practices. If the complaint is found to be justified after investigation, the consumer will immediately be given 25 per cent of the amount charged as penalty.
According to the DNCRP, the authorities paid a total amount of TK 6,817,702 to 4,033 complainants as reimbursement over the last 9 years.
Golam Rahman, former chairman of Anti Corruption Commission and president of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), told Bangladesh Post that the enactment of the consumer rights act in 2009 and establishing the DNCRP was definitely a significant initiative of the government, which is why consumers can enjoy privileges now.
However, consumers are not aware enough of their rights, which results in deception here and there in their buying goods or availing services, he added.
“I believe that when the time comes when no complaints are made, society can be considered to have become deception-free and consumer rights friendly,” said Golam Rahman.
According to the act, a complaint can be filed if a product is priced more than the written price, if buyers are deceived through misleading advertisements, services of low standards are provided, items weighing less than the customer is paying for are intentionally sold, price lists of products being offered are not displayed by a shop, adulterated products are being sold, fake or illegal items are produces and so on.
Officials of the directorate state that if a person is willing to file a complaint under this act, he needs to file a written complaint within 30 days of the incident.
One has to provide one’s contact details. Complaints can also be filed through fax, email, SMS or by filling in the prescribed form available on the directorate’s website.
Both parties subsequently receive letters within seven days and investigation is carried out in the presence of the parties.
“Though we have a time limit of maximum 90 days, we can carry out the procedure to dispose of a complaint within 21 days in 80 percent of cases. The complaints and issues beyond our jurisdiction might need a longer time for disposal,” said director Tawhidur Rahman.
n Number of market
drives triple over 3
n Consumers are being
n Complaints filing
increases 34-fold over
n Every day more than
28 complaints lodged
n TK 6,817,702 to 4,033