Thursday, December 13, 2012

Law giving consumers new rights takes effect

The law also prohibits using misleading information to sell goods and services. Photo/FILE

Kenyans in a retail store. Kenya has been ranked below the top ten investment destinations for retail investors in Africa due to low longterm opportunity, low GDP growth and low sales per capita. Photo/FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP


A law that gives consumers power to demand quality goods and services took effect on Thursday, opening way for suits in court for the violators.

President Kibaki gave assent to the Consumer Protection Act, 2012 that also demand that regulators to involve consumers when making major decisions about services and products.

The law comes at a time when the Communications Commission of Kenya and the Consumer Federation of Kenya are locked in a court battle over the intended switch-off of analogue to digital TV signals with the lobby opposed to it on grounds that it is being hastily implemented.

The law prohibits unfair trade practices and transactions that affect the consumer rights like under-cutting and over pricing of goods and services on flimsy grounds.

Consumer Federation of Kenya secretary general Mr Stephen Mutoro said the law would give consumers more say in pricing of the products and the quality of goods and services on offer.

It will also seek to create consumer awareness on the goods and services in the market to ensure they are of quality and meet the health standards.

This is expected to open several suits from consumers against unscrupulous traders who offer poor quality products and services purporting them to be of required quality.

The law also prohibits using misleading information to sell goods and services which is expected to make companies more responsible in designing advertisement material to ensure the messages reflect the utility and value of the product.

During debate in parliament some MPs said the law would rein in matatu operators who raise fare on flimsy grounds like onset of the rainfall.

It is expected that some of the commuters or their representative organisations can move to court and have the matatu owners punished under this law.