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Samoa marks Consumer Rights Day

It is the right of consumers to return damaged or expired products upon purchase, says the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (M.C.I.L.).

M..C.I.L. Official, Vincent Faaofo, used the opportunity to highlight the rights of consumers when discussing the merits of the March 15 Consumer Rights Day with the Samoa Observer.

He said everyone was a consumer of a product and it is his or right to raise concerns about products that are not good for consumption.

"We are all consumers and it is important to know your right and to know that it is recognised under the law. any violation can be filed straight to us and then to the court,” he added.

"When we purchase goods we should know whether they are good for consumption or not, and the consumer has a right to return or report a product that is either damaged or expired without conflicting with the producer or provider and this is why we carry out programs and try to advertise online or any way that can reach everyone.”

The Ministry has powers to protect consumer rights in Samoa under a law called the Fair Trade Act 1998.

And in a bid to do more advocacy on the rights of the consumers, the M.C.I.L. marked the March 15 Consumer Rights Day at the Apita o Pisaga Hall at Salelologa, Savai’i. 

The annual event is observed globally to protect the rights of consumers and to acknowledge that undermining the rights of consumers is equal to social injustice. 

As part of the commemoration of the day, the Samoa Competition and Consumer Commission (S.C.C.C.) has done inspections of shops and retailers in Savai’i and Upolu to ensure they are in compliance with the necessary laws.

Mr Faaofo said the inspections are part of the Commission’s annual program and awareness to ensure the public are aware of their rights consumers.

"There have not been any amendments to the Act in fact the good part for us is that we receive less complaints and concerns about market prices. So far we were able to solve this when the S.C.C.C. conducted annual inspections and awareness programs that have contributed to educating and informing the public of their rights as consumers,” he said. 

"The S.C.C.C. have completed their inspection for Upolu last week and they are continuing their inspections at the moment for Savaii. This is a very effective approach for the Ministry and we also handle cases regarding consumer rights violations and we work with the court to address the issue.”

The World Consumer Rights Day was first celebrated in Samoa in 1998 when the Government passed the Fair Trade Act legislation into law. 

Consumer rights protection in Samoa was further boosted with a new law called the Competition and Consumer Act which was enacted in 2016.

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