This is the continuation of a series to show the things to watch out for in day to day transactions, it is meant for non-professional readers, hence the use of layman’s language and some pidgin.
This is a write up on Consumer Rights and Obligations.
Firstly, since I write from a Nigerian perspective with a background of law practice, I will like to state that the consu
mer is not protected in Nigeria mainly because the Consumer does not push for his or her rights. Before you can claim a right as a consumer, you need a proof that you bought the goods/services. However, a lot of us do not identify with receipts in general hence we will grumble about customer service but may not be able to show that we actually paid for the service/goods we complained about. So first things first, keep your receipts. You ask for how long? For as long as the product/service warranty lasts. Keep packaging for that same length of time. If you want to be able to return goods, in particular, you must show when it was paid for, from where it was purchased, and return it as purchased with packaging intact. So before you blame the next shop of not treating you right when you went to complain, ask yourself if you had proof that it was still within warranty and if you returned it as it was bought. No repairman has opened it and attempted to fix it for you. The shop can tell because there are hidden ‘seals’ that will be broken if an attempt has been made to fix it.
In extreme situations, an affidavit sworn before a Commissioner of Oaths in a High Court is equally good to support your claim when the stakes are high. Similarly, a supporting Police report may come in handy if the warranty covers damages by externalities e.g theft, accident. So we are looking at service and goods here. To pass your point across to the service/goods vendor you need to convince the organization that if it has to go to a court, you will present your evidence and win. An affidavit is simple, you make depositions on paper, then attach a passport photograph and pay NGN250 (Lagos) at the High Court. You will take the receipt, document and passport picture to the Commissioner of oaths, sign in front of him/her and s/he will stamp and endorse for you. A police report, on the other hand, should be processed at the police station closest to your residence or to the place of the incidence. They may extract some funds from you for this.
A lot of us choose not to push for our rights because of the ‘stress’ and maybe the cost of this process. However, I will like you to bear in mind, that if you are willing to undergo the stress, you should be successful in pushing for your rights with the services/goods vendor. I encourage Nigerian residents to push for their consumer right because we need to reorientate ourselves that commitments are to be kept. We also need to do this to encourage our offspring to push for their rights whenever it is in their power to do so.
I share the #TDD series because people come to me with questions that I may not bill them for. I decided to spread the word in case some other people are being denied their rights due to their non-pushfulness or ignorance.
Ok. Bye for now.