Inferior products, safety and labelling

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

It’s given that in life, there are pros and cons for every decision we make. 

When it comes to trade and retail in Samoa, we are seeing this more and more every day given the fact our markets have been opened up to accept products and goods from anywhere and everywhere in the world. There are many positives but sometimes you wonder if the negatives don’t outweigh them by far.

Now this is an issue many of us would quietly bring up in private conversations but would perhaps be reluctant to raise publicly for fear of being labeled certain names. 

We are talking about the influx of such inferior products it has become a real nuisance trying to establish what true quality is. Some people say it is a sign of the times and Samoa is not alone. They have a valid point.

Still, we feel it’s an issue we believe the relevant authorities – especially the government should be weary of for the safety of our people. Just because the markets have been opened up does not mean we shouldn’t do our best to ensure our people get the quality they want and deserve.

In Samoa today, the reality is easy to see. Given that the cost of living has become ridiculous high; our people have been forced to accept that quality really matters little when it comes to purchasing of everyday goods. 

It becomes especially tough on the ones with little or no cash to spend and a lot of mouths to feed, children to clothe, school, multiple bills to pay on top of every demands of Samoan life. And that, to be fair, would include a large number of people in this country today.

So when it comes to purchasing products – whether it’s food, clothing of whatever - the price is all that matters. Inferior products therefore become the savior so to speak. 

So it comes as no surprise why we people crowd to the many supermarkets in and on the outskirts of Apia who seem to thrive on cutting prices. 

Quality is obviously not their top priority. After all you pay peanuts you get monkeys, they say. But there is another issue. It’s when they sell products in a manner that seem to have been deliberately designed to con and deceive customers that ticks decent-thinking people off. 

Take for instance toothpaste sold under the banner of a very popular brand that’s sold for quite an expensive price. So you go along and you buy it without a doubt that this is what you are after only to find when you get home that you would have been better off using salt to brush your teeth. 

You become upset and you take it back to the shopkeeper only to create more headaches since she insists that it’s the “real thing.”

The real thing?  Who are you kidding? Mind you, this doesn’t just apply to tooth paste. Since the market in Samoa now accepts goods from everywhere and anywhere as a result of world trade rules, the war of inferior products on the shelves of local stores has become quite ridiculous.

It’s become so difficult to determine which is the real thing. Perhaps what needs to happen, for the sake of those people who can afford to spend a bit more on the real thing, is for two separate shelves of the same product. One should be labelled the “real thing” and the other should have the label of “almost real.” That way customers are not left to buy and guess if they really have the product they want.

The point is that everyone is aware that a bargain is always good, handy at times when you can least afford it. 

But customers shouldn’t be misled into buying products with labels only to find out later that they have been conned. 

In other words, there is no place for fake products especially when businesses attempt to pass them off as if they are the real thing, selling them at ridiculous prices. This is criminal and it should be stopped immediately.

Lastly, the government should start cracking down on the labeling on these products. Most of them are written in languages no one understands. This is a recipe for disaster especially when it comes to foodstuff. 

You really worry when you see children rushing to the stores to buy some of these products and they quickly stuff in their mouths when we have no idea what they are. We need to be alert and we need to start looking at this issue a lot more seriously than merely paying it lip service. 

Have a wonderful week Samoa, God bless!

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