Consumers Association of Penang

Giving voice to the little people...since 1970

Excuses, excuses

Though more people are now willing to complain when they feel injustice has been done, they are still a minority.

Many choose to avoid going back to the restaurant that served stale food or stop patronising the local sundry shop whose weighing machine has been tampered with.

Below are some of the excuses people give for not complaining.

“It is not worth the trouble.”

Complaining can take much less time than you think. It may be just a letter to dash off or a trip back to the shop. So even if it is only a bar of chocolate infested with worms, it is worth it because complaining means that you are standing up for your rights. You are also making businessmen, government departments or whoever you are complaining against more accountable to consumers.

“I don’t want to make a fuss, it will be too embarrassing.”

Of course if you complain to the waiter about the fly in your soup, it will attract the attention of other diners. But, think, whose fault is it? Why should you feel embarrassed when it is the restaurant that should be embarrassed about serving customers food not fit for consumption?

Complaining is about making them — not yourself — feel bad.

“I have thrown away the receipt”; “the small print says that the company cannot be held liable” or that “goods sold are not returnable”

If you bought something which does not work you should be compensated irrespective of whether or not you still have the receipt or what the small print says.

Remember that possession of a receipt is not a legal requirement for getting redress. However, though you are not legally obliged to show a receipt, you could try to give some form of proof that you bought that product at that shop. For example, your friend was with you at the time; or a shop assistant may recall your visit; you may have a cheque stub; or a particular brand name or trader’s name found on the item can be traced to the shop. However, many shops may reconsider and offer you redress, to maintain your goodwill and your future patronage even though you have no receipt to show.

If the product you bought is defective, the shop has no right to disclaim liability when you ask for a refund or exchange despite any printed notices or signs.

If common sense tells you that what happened to you should not have happened to a consumer, do not hesitate to complain.