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The market in the city of Beira is being flooded with low quality articles without warranty, to the detriment of buyers and in clear violation of consumer defence laws. This begs the question, why do legislative guardians and even the National Institute of Economic Activities fail to step in against gross violations perpetrated by merchants?
Freezers, electric stoves, electric kettles and other appliances malfunction less than a month after purchase, but when the buyer complains to the supplier, he simply refuses to repair or replace the appliance.
Consumer Protection Law 22/2009, of 28 September, states: “The supplier of goods or services, both in the negotiations and in the conclusion of a contract, must inform the consumer in a clear, objective and appropriate manner on the characteristics, composition and price of the goods or service, as well as on the period of validity of the contract, warranties, delivery deadline and assistance after the legal transaction”.
Consumers who have spoken to Diário de Moçambique on the matter say that most traders do not provide the required information on products they market, merely saying that they are in working order.
Also according to the legislation: “The supplier of goods or service provider who violates the duty to inform, responds to the damages caused to the consumer, being jointly responsible the other players in the production chain to distribution who have also violated the duty to inform”.
One of the consumers who is worried about the refusal of merchants to offer the warranty period is Lucas da Silva, who he says are taking advantage of their customers and selling substandard articles.
“Traders who do not offer a warranty period know that they are marketing refurbished products but claim they will function for a long time. In less than one to two months, the product begins to malfunction. This situation deserves more attention from state audit institutions, because if it continues, the citizen will continue to lose out, to the advantage of the supplier,” he says.
Someone who knows about appliances says a freezer with a malfunction such as a gas leak, can run for 30 days, but after that, the situation deteriorates.
Another consumer, Luis Massitela, says that household appliances should last a long time because they cost so much, and it is imperative that the supplier complies with the law concerning warranty periods and doesn’t just leave consumer to cope with problems.
“The law is clear about consumer protection. The buyer cannot purchase an item and get damaged goods. But we are always hearing about traders who refuse to replace appliances that have broken down, even in less than a month,” he says.
He remembers buying a mobile phone in one of the city’s stores, only for it to malfunction in less three days. When he contacted the supplier for a repair or replacement, he was met with refusal, and the merchant only agreed to help when he threatened to take the case to court.
Scenes like this, he said, will continue at the expense of the consumer if nothing is done.
A similar thing happened to Maida Amaral, who bought an electric kettle in one Beira shop, and was offered a seven-day warranty.
The appliance malfunctioned even before that. “When I went back to the salesman to complain, he did not answer me. The appliance cost me dearly and I lost money. They are selling long-stored items without regular trials. Any electronic device that does not work for a long time can get malfunction,” she said.
“The government must control trade or the consumer, from lack of rules, will be harmed. Some of the appliances we buy have manufacturing faults. It is quite complicated when damage which arises in the short time between acquisition and consumption is not assumed by the supplier,” Emília da Conceição Lucas says.
Warranty period is mandatory
José Carvalho, owner of COGEBE, Beira General Trading, a company selling refrigerators, freezers, parts and accessories, says that, besides being an obligation under the law, “those who supply goods and services without warranty do not show confidence in the products they sell”.
“A warranty has to do with quality. We offer warranty period because we know what we are providing to our customers. The Consumer Defence Law must be obeyed,” he says.
Israel Azam, human resources supervisor of the UZEIR Trade Centre, says that a warranty period is mandatory in Mozambique, and companies must comply. But he points out that every malfunction has its explanation, and for the household appliance, the quality of the power supply, which is sometimes characterised by oscillations, may be the cause.
“When this happens, the liability may not lie with the supplier of the appliance. But quality products can withstand variations in the electric current. All possible causes of the malfunction must be evaluated so that neither the supplier nor the consumer is unduly harmed,” he adds.
“Traders must sell quality goods in order to ensure the consumer’s warranty period and thus avoid conflict with Consumer Protection Law.”
Disclosure of law
Consumer Defence in Mozambique (Proconsumo) programme officer Manhiça Mário urges the increasing dissemination of consumer protection law to communities, to improve their knowledge of the legislation.
He confirms that his organisation receives constant complaints from consumers who say they are refused replacement of faulty appliances less than two or three weeks after purchase, even for manufacturing defects.
“In this country, no commercial establishment cannot offer a warranty period when they provide goods or services. The consumer, if he or she discovers a defect in the item he has purchased within the warranty period, can exchange it or have the damage repaired. Economic agents know this. What is happening may be out of ignorance” he says.
He also says that some retailers charge for repairs, which is contrary to the legislation and may constitute fraud.
“The law must be made more widely known, because knowledge about legislation permits people to demand rights to which they are entitled. People are unaware that they can exchange products which malfunction within the warranty period. Some economic agents take advantage of the ignorance of the law, sometimes not even giving an invoice for the acquisition of an article,” he says.
Warranty period must be within the law
The Consumer Protection Law of decree 27/2016 of July 18, states that goods and services supplied must fulfil the expected purposes and produce the effects for which they are intended.
Article 6 of the same legal provision states that “without prejudice to the fact that the parts may agree on a specific convention or a more favourable period of time, the supplier of non-food movable goods is obliged to provide a warranty of the proper functioning of the goods for a period of not less than one year from the date of acquisition, except in cases of misuse of the property provided”.
The provincial delegate of the National Inspection of Economic Activities (INAE) in Sofala, António Chisseve, also notes that the law indicates that the consumer is entitled to a minimum warranty of five years for immovable property and one year for movable items, counted from the date of acquisition, as evidenced by a contract or invoice.
“What we have been seeing is that some commercial establishments offer one, two or three months warranty, a period well below what is legislated. We have been receiving complaints about this,” he said.
For him, quality control, especially of domestic appliances, must happen during import, to prevent the entry of counterfeit products that end up increasing consumer’s expenses.
Sofala’s Director of Industry and Commerce, Josefa Sing Sang, said that her institution, through the INAE, has been explaining consumer defence law to retailers, because it did not want them to contravene the legislation.
According to Mozambique’s constitution, consumers have the right to quality in goods and services, the right to information, the right to protection of economic interests, the right to protection against misleading advertising, the right to prevent or repair property or assets damages resulting from an offence of interests or rights of individual homogeneous, collective or diffuse, among others.
By Eurico DançaSource: Diário de Moçambique