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Often sellers of goods or services use unfair methods to get consumers to buy their goods or sign up for their services.
Consumers have at one time or another been put under pressure by the sales person to buy a product or sign a contract of service. Consumers too have been misled about the price or quality of the product or services purchased.
The solution to the problem of unfair trade practices is to make them illegal by the introduction of the Unfair Trade Practices Act or introducing new provisions in the Consumers Protection Act 1999 (CPA).
The Act or the amendments will have a schedule of the list of specific actions which will be considered as unfair trade practices.
For example specific practices will be labeled as unfair trade practices will include the following:
- Using terms or conditions in an agreement that are harsh, oppressive or excessively one side so as to be unconscionable will be labeled as an unfair practice. (In other words unfair contract terms will be illegal.)
- Using unreadable small prints to conceal a material fact.
- Representing that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality or origin or method of manufacture if they are not.
- Representing that a price benefit or advantage exist in the goods or services when in fact the price benefit or advantage does not exist.
- Taking advantage of a consumer by exerting undue pressure or undue influence to enter into a transaction involving goods or services.
We urge the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs to either introduce the Unfair Trade Practices Act or amend the CPA accordingly to protect consumers from the various unfair trade practices.
With the new law or amendment to the CPA, victims of unfair trade practices will be able to seek redress from the Tribunal for Consumer Claims.