The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) on Monday berated businesses operating in the country for their failure to live up to implied or specified guarantee and warranty for the products and services they offer. The Council also observed that the success of the drive of the country to diversify its economy will hinge on the quality of products and the entrenchment of guarantee and warranty in the country’s business culture.
CPC’s Director General, Mrs. Dupe Atoki, who made the assertions while addressing key industry operators in automobile, electrical/electronics, heavy duty equipment, on-line markets and superstores subsectors of the nation’s economy at a meeting in Lagos, hinted that the Council’s commitment towards the entrenchment of guarantee and warranty business culture is also to support government’s renewed drive to diversify the nation’s economy.
Mrs. Atoki noted with regret that manufacturers and distributors have not only short-changed Nigerian consumers over time by their failure to honour their products or services’ implied guarantee or warranty, but have also abused consumer rights with ouster clauses, such as “no refund of money after payment,” and “goods received in good condition cannot be returned” on their receipts.
The CPC boss stated that “worse still is the fact that even multinational corporations that adhere strictly to the tenets of implied or specified guarantee and warranty in other countries, come up with all sorts of devices in Nigeria to renege on same”.
While describing the situation as unacceptable, she advised businesses operating in the country to emulate their counterparts in other climes where “the concept of guarantee and warranty is taken for granted because manufacturers in those countries do not only strive to produce according to specifications, but also make after sales service an integral part of their marketing strategy”.
She added: “As a result, businesses in such climes have clearly articulated policies on return, repair, replacement or refund of money for products which do not meet the expectation of consumers”.
The director general observed that the almost non-existent after sales service culture among businesses in Nigeria has denied Nigerian consumers of simple redress of their complaints without the intervention of the Council.
According to her, “it is a common occurrence to see businesses invent reasons to justify why consumers should not derive the desired benefits from their purchases”, noting further that “it is disheartening, for instance, to see a consumer purchases a product, which should serve for a number of years, but malfunctions after a few weeks, without any indication of support from the supplier.
“In countries where consumer satisfaction is at the heart of business, such occurrences will trigger a spate of investigations to enable the producer unravel the real cause of the problem, with a view to forestalling same in future. But here in Nigeria, save for evidence of purchase receipts, some companies will go as far as disowning the product” she asserted.
Mrs. Atoki insisted that for abuse of consumer rights to be drastically contained in Nigeria, “businesses must as a basic minimum, adhere to the tenets of guarantee and warranty”.
On the efforts of the government to diversify the nation’s economy and reduce dependence on foreign products, she stated that more attention must be given to consumers’ perception of local products and services.
She argued that “as government begins to push for diversification, which will lead to increased production, sustaining the interest of Nigerian consumers in Made-in-Nigeria products will hinge on quality and entrenchment of guarantee and warranty in our business culture”, stating that “a poor quality product that fails to give value for money without consumer remedies will eventually lead to a closure of the business.
“For Government to successfully diversify the nation’s economy, businesses in Nigeria must work hard to earn the confidence of consumers, both home and abroad. However, consumer confidence can only be earned when businesses produce quality products and services and adopt best practices in their relationship with consumers, particularly with respect to ensuring value for money”, Mrs. Atoki added.
She emphasized that “in support of the diversification policy of President Muhammadu Buhari, the CPC is poised more than ever before to ensure that products and services offered in the country do not only meet the specifications, but are offered in line with international best practices”.
She explained that the Council’s meeting with the industry operators was “to deliberate on modalities for ensuring the sanctity of guarantee and warranty in the country”, advising the operators not to see the drive to entrench guarantee and warranty in the nation’s business culture as only a means at protecting consumer rights, but as “a push for the survival of businesses, as it will help to make Nigerian products and services competitive in the global marketplace”.