AS the former president of the Negri Sembilan Consumers Association, I support the sentiments expressed by the writer, A Jalil Hamid in the article titled: “It’s true, the captain is the consumer” (NST, Feb 11).
He is spot on when he says “in a free market, consumers can exercise their freedom of choice and can refuse to buy from companies that sell sub-standard products”.
I must say the government is doing what it can to reduce the prices of essential goods and services, but there is a limit to what can be done.
Consumers must complement government efforts and we have some 34 laws that protect consumers’ rights.
So, educate yourself. Be an informed consumer. Be smart buyers, shop wisely and compare prices of items at different outlets before buying. Stop “emotional buys”. Only buy things that are needed, because every sen counts.
State consumer associations, especially those that have been around for a long time, should help consumers and champion their rights,
Some go as far back as the 1960s and 1970s. But, where are they? Some state organisations are in deep slumber. Wake up and be the eyes and ears of the government. Don’t just exist in name only. Do something concrete for consumers.
It truly is a sad state of affairs when consumers aren’t protected. Consumers and the business sector must assist the government in protecting consumers’ rights and work in tandem to maintain affordable prices. It must be a concerted effort.
The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry has some 17,000 rakan pengguna volunteers. They must be on alert at all times, conduct price surveys and have them tabulated for action. This would make it easier to monitor unnecessary price hikes, understand why prices have gone up and take action if necessary.
Consumers have to be pragmatic. Carry a list when doing grocery shopping, for example, so that you avoid buying items you don’t need.
And, it is crucial that consumers get together to exchange notes. Take an interest in each other’s observations and experiences. This way you can be informed of what is going and learn how to solve problems or seek help from your respective assemblymen or members of parliament or the Consumers’ Claims Tribunal. Know that individually, you cannot do much good in any economic activity of buying, but collectively you can.