Sunday, April 26, 2009

Consumers are kings

So finally the consumers are becoming kings. But how? The ministry of economic affairs has also put the consumer welfare at the centre of its development strategy?
It is not too late that Bhutan is coming forward with a draft consumer protection act to protect consumer’s life, health and safety. And of course the consumer’s purse. It is not only the quality of products being sold from the counter, but also how much they have to pay and how they are treated that needs to be given consideration.
Once the act is approved by the parliament and is in place, unfair trade practices and unscrupulous exploitation of the consumers will come to an end. Prices of commodities will be regulated and the quality of goods would be maintained.
A market survey is also being conducted to study how the consumers are faring with regard to quality, standard weights, and prices and labelling of goods. It is a step in the right direction.
For far too long Bhutanese consumers had been at the mercy of the wheeling and dealing of the retailers, manufacturers and the corporate entities involved in the supply of the goods. It is time that the lowly consumer on the street who helps them fatten their wallets or push up their corporate earnings should be given a little bit of consideration and respect.
There was a time whenever you went to a shop and requested the shopkeeper to show an item that was stored on the top of the shelf; you were more often than not asked this question: “Do you really want to buy it? If not, I don’t want to take the trouble of climbing up a chair and display the item for your pleasure?”
One might say that is bad PR, and most of all bad attitude towards you future customer. When demand dictates supply that does happen.
Perhaps, it is appropriate to recall an incident that took place some years ago. Onions were in short supply in Delhi. The news was relayed over the radio and the TV. The very next day the shopkeepers in Thimphu raised the price of onions to Nu. 60 a kg. It took an office order from the department of trade to prevent the price of onions from escalating.
The attitude, of course, is of trying to make hay while the sun shines. But how long will it last? If the sellers have to procure the goods at a higher rate at the source itself, then it is right that the buyer should pay more. In this case, they were jacking up the price on the old stock that was procured at the normal rate.
These are some of things one has to bear in mind. After all suppliers cannot exist without the buyers.
While the consumer act may still be in the process of being drafted and approved, some corporate entities are already making attempts to clean up their houses and adjust to the costumer needs. Banking had been one area, where people always have had problem with. The procedure was tedious to say the least. On the other hand, the customers also gave the banks a lot of headache by failing to pay the loan instalments in time, and in some cases disappearing into thin air after availing the loan.
The shift in the corporate culture and corporate governance is a good sign. That is the only way we can move ahead.

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