We all enter into hundreds of legal transactions every month even if we do not think or consider them as such, such as purchasing a paper in the morning, getting a cup of coffee or buying a new pair of jeans. Sometimes we do not even have to say anything – just grab that chocolate bar, place the money on the counter and leave. These transactions though are all regulated by laws and regulations and are technically legal transactions with their own set of ‘rules’.
Different types of transactions have a different set of regulations. Buying a car has its own set of ‘rules’ compared to buying a smartphone or a food item. Different countries and different jurisdictions have different rules. These rules govern what we call consumer rights or consumer protections. Kuwait promulgated a legislation in 2014 that discusses protections that I would like to discuss in this article.
Also, different authorities have been set up to deal with different consumer rights. The Public Authority for Food and Nutrition deals with complaints about food supplies, the Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority deals with complaints regarding phone and Internet bills, for medical supplies there is a hotline under the health ministry for complaints, and everything else is under the ministry of commerce’s 135 hotline.
Question: I purchased a car five years ago and it had a five-year guarantee. The car for the past two years has been breaking down continuously and I was not able to benefit from it. The dealership informed me that they are just representatives of the car manufacturer and that since my guarantee has expired, they cannot fix my car.
Fajer: Article 49 of the law states that the dealership in Kuwait or a franchisor is as responsible as if they are the manufacturers. They have to provide you with the guarantee and if you weren’t able to use your car for let’s say one year out of the five years, then the dealership is responsible to provide you with an extended year to your guarantee.
Testing before buying
Question: I went into a store to buy a phone but was told I cannot test it – is this true?
Fajer: Every person has the right under the law to test any product before purchasing it.
Question: I understand that as a consumer I have the right to return a piece of clothing and receive cash back, yet I keep getting offered a gift card by the store – is this legal?
Fajer: You have the legal right to refuse the gift card and ask for cash back. It is something that I have tried multiple times myself and I have received cash back.
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By Attorney Fajer Ahmed