(VNS) Vice President of the Viet Nam Standards and Consumer Rights Protection Association Nguyen Manh Hung spoke with Phu Nu Viet Nam (Vietnamese Women) about the challenges faced.
In an attempt to ensure traffic safety through boosting the use of helmets, authorities claim to have punished both sellers and people who wear substandard or counterfeit helmets. However, fining the fake helmet wearers has provoked some controversy. Do you think it is a problem for law enforcement and consumer protection?
We can see substandard helmets are on sale across the streets of Ha Noi and HCM City. When fake or substandard products penetrate the market, it is not the consumers' fault. I don't think it is reasonable to impose fines on people who wear substandard helmets.
There is a belief that many people buy cheap helmets fully aware that the products are substandard. So, what do you think?
At present, consumers have to face a high risk of falling prey to fake products including helmets. They are at risk of becoming victims and suffering loss.
However, I think consumers are regularly improving their understanding of rights. Now, they know how to raise their voice and report complaints to relevant authorities and agencies.
Last year for example, my association received 961 complaints and helped consumers solve 83 per cent of these.
Nowadays, people can ask for help when their rights are violated. However, the procedure for submitting complaints is seen as cumbersome and can deter people.
There are many channels and agencies offering help for consumers. As an organisation dedicated to protecting consumers' rights, our association offers free assistance and requires very few procedures.
People can contact us and learn how to lodge a complaint . Moreover, consumers and other parties, including producers and traders, can go to our office for direct resettlement if necessary. The association does not have the power to fine, but we can offer consultation and reconciliation.
The law on Consumer Rights Protection took effects two years ago. Do you think it has been effective?
I think that the legal framework on consumers' rights protection is quite sufficient, which helps make differences in public awareness and behaviours. But to be honest, few people have a broad understanding of the law.
So, in addition to continuously improving public understanding, it's important to boost law enforcement. Moreover, we must call for joint efforts and engagement from all parties including governmental law enforcers, producers, traders, civil societies and individuals. — VNS