[UPDATE: 26 January 2009: After receiving a comment from a blog reader saying the toll free number doesn't work anymore, I called 800 555, the toll free number for all Abu Dhabi government departments to ask them what's the new number for the Department of Consumer Protection. After a long, long wait as they searched, I was asked to call 181 instead because they didn't have the number I was looking for. However, on the website of the UAE's Ministry of Economy, the number for the Consumer Protection Department is 02-6267447. No response on that number either. This is on a Monday at around 10.30 am. So, if you've got a consumer complaint in Abu Dhabi, and manage to get through and have someone take action on the right number, please post me in.]
Have you been taken for granted as a consumer in the UAE? You can now dial a toll free number and report it. Authorities claim that they’d take action and address the issue.
The toll free number of UAE Ministry of Economy’s Department of Consumer Protection where you can register a consumer complaint in the UAE is 600522225. It could be about a sudden price increase that you feel needs to be reported. Or if you’ve been sold a defective product, you can report it on this number. Suppliers are also bound to return or replace a defective product according to the conditions laid down in the UAE Consumer Law.
Sellers found guilty under this law could end up paying fines from AED 1,000 for minor violations to over AED 10,000 for major violations like not alerting the consumer to the risks of using a product and the consumer facing damages because of it.
The UAE Consumer Law was enacted in 2006 and followed by the establishment of the Department of Consumer Protection. This department is responsible for, among other things, confronting unfair trade practices and taking action on consumer complaints.
I do hope that the authorities will deal with issues swiftly and minimise hassles for the consumer who wants to register a complaint. And I also hope that the identity of the consumer will be kept confidential to avoid any harassment from the seller in the future for registering a complaint against him.
I have faced many instances of pathetic customer service and even fraudulent business practices, if I think of all the years spent here seeing te UAE . From rude taxi drivers who refuse to go on routes they don't like, to sales staff who give little or wrong product information.
With useful measures like this toll free number from the government, I hope more protection is afforded to consumers and businesses that take consumers for granted are swiftly and sternly dealt with. As an advertising and marketing person, I believe good products and services deserve to be praised and talked about, but those taking advantage of consumers need to be exposed and legally reprimanded.
What has been your experience as regards consumer rights and sellers attitudes in the UAE?