Raihan Majid ordered a motorcycle from an online shop on October 8 with a 30 percent cashback offer. They did not give the condition of delivery within 15 working days. On November 18, Raihan lodged a complaint with the Department of Consumer Protection. But on November 26, he withdrew the complaint after receiving the product.
Raihan Majid told Prothom Alo that after receiving the complaint on November 18, he received a notice from the Consumer Rights on January 3 for a hearing. But before that he got the product and withdrew the complaint. Raihan said, “I have already received the product. And the Department of Consumer Rights did not say anything in those days. So I withdrew the complaint. But the department needs to respond more quickly. ‘
Due to the expansion of e-commerce business in the country, the complaints related to consumer rights are also increasing. However, the department says most of such complaints are settled between consumers and sellers, not even fines.
According to the Consumer Department, not getting the right product, not getting the product on time, not getting the refund — basically such complaints are more common. Complaints against established e-commerce shops can be found, but page-based businesses with malicious intent cannot be found. For this, the Department of Consumer Protection advises buyers to buy products online.
Babul Kumar Saha, director general of the National Consumer Rights Protection Department, told Prothom Alo that there are some companies that offer various offers including cashback. They also offer some conditions with those offers. In most cases, the consumer no longer sees that condition. Seeing the offer, he bought the product. Then when they don’t get the product in a long time, they come to complain.
Mentioning that the consumer has his own responsibility, Babul Kumar Saha said, in this case, the consumer has to know all the necessary information including terms and conditions before taking any product or service. Complaints of online shopping or services are mostly settled between buyers and sellers, he said.
The Consumer Rights Protection Act was enacted in 2009. Under the Act, anyone as a consumer can lodge a complaint with the Department of Consumer Protection. If someone complains, the department will investigate the complaint and call both parties for a hearing. If proved, there is a provision of fine or imprisonment against the accused. Punishment includes one to three years of rigorous or non-rigorous imprisonment. Or a fine of up to a maximum of two lakh rupees. If the convicted person commits the same crime again, there is a provision of double punishment for the maximum amount. In addition, if a fine is imposed, the complaining consumer will be paid 25 percent of the total fine.
Complaints can be lodged with the National Department of Consumer Protection regarding transport, telecommunication, water supply, sewerage, energy, gas, electricity, residential hotels and restaurants. In addition, all types of products can be complained about.
If necessary, the Department of Consumer Protection may also conduct chemical testing of any product. However, the officials of the department said that the amount of chemical test is very low. The department does not have any lab of its own. If you want to test something, you have to use the lab of another government agency and its fee is a lot.
According to the department, although the law was enacted in 2009, complaints started coming from the 2013-14 financial year. So far 38,061 complaints have been lodged with the Consumer Department. 35 thousand 963 have been settled. 2,798 unresolved complaints. A total fine of Tk 80 crore 1 lakh 98 thousand 450 has been collected through complaints and raids. 1 crore 14 lakh 8 thousand 552 rupees has been given to the complainant and 6 crore 74 lakh 69 thousand 146 rupees has been deposited in the government treasury. The highest number of complaints was received in the fiscal year 2019-20 at 9,195. So far, 3,081 public hearings have been held.
Regarding the increase in complaints, the director general of the department said that people’s confidence in the consumer rights department has increased. People are getting solutions by complaining.
Shakila Haque, an employee, said she went to a resort in Gazipur a couple of years ago with a group of family and friends. But they did not get the service according to the amount they paid. He complained about this to the consumer rights. A hearing was held from the department and the department also went to the resort for investigation. The department fined the resort after the allegations were proved.
Shakila Haque said in the first light, ‘We are satisfied with the work of the consumer department. However, the whole process takes a lot of time and the complainant has to stick to it. It’s better to resolve issues faster. ‘
Under the Consumer Protection Act, the complainant has to file a written complaint within 30 days of the incident. Relevant documents or receipt of service should be present as proof of the complaint. Complaints can be made by SMS, fax or e-mail on mobile phone. Complaints can also be made by filling up the complaint form on the website of the department. According to the department, more complaints are received by filling up e-mails and website forms.