Compare prices, quality of products before buying

There must be a concerted effort to ensure that consumers are not exploited by unscrupulous retail outlets

BENEDICT LOPEZ

If there is one lesson I’ve learnt over the past few weeks it is to compare the prices of purchases made at a few places.

Equally important is to closely scrutinise the quality of the product and fine print on the label.

From now on, I plan to check the prices of basic essentials and if I notice a vast discrepancy in the price or if the product is of substandard quality, I try to inform as many people as possible by messaging them or even calling and alerting them.

I hope my fellow consumers too will follow suit too. It is in the best interest of all that consumers get together to exchange notes as often as possible on basic and important purchases.

Consumers must take an interest in each other’s observations and experiences.

In this way, you can be informed of what is going and learn how to solve problems or seek help from the Consumer Claims Tribunal.

Always remember, you cannot have much of an impact on any economic activity of purchasing or procurement but communally or as a society at large, you can be a force to be reckoned with.

Just recently, I went to a well-known supermarket in Bangsar and bought a tin of Danish luncheon meat for RM22.90 and a bottle of French jam for RM14.90.

A few days later, I went to the mini market near my house to buy a few items and was shocked to see the same luncheon meat going for just RM13.30 and the same jam for only RM11.99.

The following day, I immediately went back to the supermarket and showed the assistant manager the receipts of the cost of both items bought in his supermarket compared to the mini market near my house.

The assistant manager apologised to me profusely and requested me to fill up a complaint form and assured me he would take the matter up with his head office.

I told him to check all the items sold at his supermarket and that I would return to check the cost on all other essential items in his supermarket.

He gave me a flimsy excuse, passing the buck to the supplier.

I told him that his excuse was totally unacceptable to me.

This vast price disparity prompted me to check on a few other items and I found out this mini market is the cheapest retail outlet in Bangsar for most items available there.

With the proliferation of messaging services, residents in any housing estate can alert their friends and neighbours on the cheapest prices available in their vicinity or elsewhere. This would make it easier to monitor unnecessary price hikes, understand why prices have gone up and take action, if necessary.

Consumers and the business sector should complement government efforts in protecting consumer rights and work in tandem to maintain affordable prices.

It is critical that there be a concerted effort to ensure that consumers are not exploited by unscrupulous retail establishments.

Source: The Sun Daily

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Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. A pragmatic optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits and privileges found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one that he hopes will be realised in his lifetime