Trying to save money by buying cheap products can sometimes turn out to be costly and even dangerous. Safety and quality should be a priority when purchasing items for oneself and one’s home. Unfortunately, there are various levels of products available in the markets of Kuwait. Some have high qualities and standards of safety and others are poorly made and potential harmful.

Various accidents have taken place in Kuwait and other countries, including fires in homes due to cheap electronics, children hospitalized for swallowing magnetic toys, hoverboards that spontaneously catch fire and hundreds of other harmful products.

Consumers who have faced such situations and accidents told Kuwait Times they have learned from their experiences and decided to always seek quality before considering the price. “I bought an unbranded power bank at a cheap price, but it didn’t last long. Not only did it stop working but it spoiled my mobile, which I had to fix for triple the power bank’s cost. This was a lesson for me to only buy good quality electronics from well-known stores,” 30-year-old Jamal said.

“I will never buy any electronics of an unknown brand, as I have heard about even more serious cases than just a damaged mobile phone. Numerous fires have broken out in many homes due to electrical short circuits caused by charging with cheap and fake chargers,” he added.     

Rabab only buys from agents of brands or well-known stores that she trusts. “I have heard about many cases of damage and harm caused to consumers who bought cheap products. Also, twice I bought cheap electronics and they didn’t last for long. So it’s better to buy good quality products and pay more to enjoy using them for years instead of months,” she noted.

Some products may be bad even if they are not cheap. “Once I bought a homemade face cream from a woman selling it online. I was encouraged by various ads I saw on social media. But it was bad and I got an allergic reaction after using it. I doubt it was approved by the ministry of health. I will never buy such unknown products. Also, I earlier bought slimming cream of an unknown brand sold at a stall at an exhibition and it didn’t work,” Sameera told Kuwait Times.

Quality comes first. “I never buy products from an unknown source. I care about quality first, even if I have to pay more. If I’m not aware of a product, I educate myself through the Internet. I haven’t experienced any adverse situation, but I have heard from my friends about cheap products and their poor quality. So I always look for quality, especially for my children’s stuff, as it is related to their health, such as shoes or water bottles,” stressed Ahmed.  

Consumers can protect themselves by buying well known branded products or checking the quality of items before purchase. They can also report products that are problematic to the commerce ministry and consumer protection hotline #135.

According to Kuwait’s consumer protection law, consumers have the following rights:

Article 9 lists the rights granted to consumers under the law as follows:

1. The right to safety – this means that consumers should be able to assume that the products they buy are reasonably safe.

2. The right to quality – this means consumers should be assured of satisfactory quality of products which can be used for their intended purpose.

3. The right to be informed – this means that consumers should be provided with sufficient information to make an informed choice and to be protected against false and misleading advertising and labelling practices;

4. The right to redress – this means that consumers have the right to receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.

5. The rights set out in Article 9 of the Consumer Protection Law are based on the rights granted by the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (UNGCP). These guidelines were adopted by the UN in 1985 and the UNGCP are intended to act as an international reference point of the consumer movement. Kuwait, through the introduction of the Consumer Protection Law, has become a part of this movement in the interests of progress and modernity.

Article 10 allows a consumer to replace or return a defected product within 14 days of purchase (provided that it is not a rapidly perishable good) and further states that vendors and suppliers are jointly liable in such respect. Article 10 applies in instances where a consumer receives a defective or incomplete service in accordance with the nature of such service, contract conditions or prevailing commercial custom. In this case, the service provider shall refund the value of the service or the value of the product or re-provide the service to the consumer.

By Nawara Fattahova