Viet Nam News
ĐÀ NẴNG — Cumbersome procedures continue to discourage customers from lodging official complaints about poor quality products or services, experts said at a conference in Đà Nẵng on Thursday.
Phan Thế Thắng, an official with the Việt Nam Competition Authority under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said a recent survey found 56 per cent of consumers saying they had bought or used poor quality products and experienced poor service in the medical, healthcare, fashion and hospitality industries.
Of these, 44 per cent said they chose to remain silent, and 22 per cent were wary of complicated procedures while petitioning authorities.
The survey, done in March and April this year, covered 3,000 consumers in 12 provinces and cities across the country.
Thirty-nine per cent of the respondents said they contacted the media for help when their consumer rights were violated, and just 20 per cent approached courts or other arbitrators. “While 75 per cent of the respondents said they were aware of consumer rights and laws on consumer protection, 43 per cent said State agencies or local agencies tasked with consumer protection provided poor responses to their complaints,” Thắng said. Despite improvements over the last several years, 48 per cent still complained of complicated procedures. Thắng said many people complained that the consumer rights protection offices were usually located in cities and people in rural or remote areas had no access to their services. Dr. Lê Khôi, chief of Research and Market Forecast Department with the Việt Nam Institute of Trade, said enforcement mechanisms for the Law on Protection of Consumer Rights were inadequate. “There are different challenges in supporting and protecting consumers from violations. Most Vietnamese consumers do not take invoices or bills from sellers, and they do not complain to the Consumers Right Protection Office even in risky situations,” Khôi told Việt Nam News. He said unclear address of businesses, unknown brands and the purchase of products without Certificate of Origin (CO) were factors that increased the risk for consumers. “We can only raise awareness for consumers via media, informing them about legitimate and reliable businesses. All businesses are required to register their brands and products, and to ensure their quality. Consumers are at risk if they buy from open free markets or remote areas…,” Khôi said.
He said the Việt Nam Competition Authority (VCA) had handled more than 6,000 complaints in 2010-15, in comparison to an average of 26 complaints before 2010. About 51 per cent of the complaints were dealt with, he added.
The VCA has launched a hotline at 1800 6838 to receive consumer complaint, and plans to establish switchboard services in 15 provinces and cities.
In 2012, the Vietnam Standards and Consumers’ Association (VINASTAS) honoured the Việt Nam Diary Products Company (Vinamilk) as the first company recognised as a “reliable business for consumers.”
VINASTAS is also considering recognising other brands like food processor Vissan, Hà Nội Beer, taxi group Mai Linh and consumer goods producer Unilever Việt Nam. — VNS