Malaysian Consumer Rights & Consumer Protection
The Consumer Profile Research, conducted by the Domestic Trade, Cooperative & Consumerism Ministry (KPDNKK) last year, revealed that only 58% of Malaysian consumers were properly aware of their rights.
It’s important to be aware of your rights as a consumer so you know what you’re entitled to including refunds for faulty or dangerous goods.
If you’re not satisfied with the price or even the quality of goods and services you’ve received, you can lodge a complaint with the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism (TTPM). As a consumer, you are protected under the Consumer Protection Act 1999 (CPA).
These rules apply to online purchases too, as online trading (eg. transactions through Instagram, Facebook and other e-stores) is required to be registered with Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM), and must adhere to rules of trading in Malaysia. There are many situations in our daily life which allow you to make legal claims through the TTPM.
1. Products or services that are misleading, false representation and unfair practice
Part II of the Consumer Protection Act 1999 refers to Misleading And Deceptive Conduct, False Representation and Unfair Practice by sellers or business owners.
Let’s make it simple. This section basically talks about an advertisement or promise made to consumers but doesn’t turn out to be as promised at the end of the bargain. For example, an advertisement saying the car being sold is a brand new car when in reality, it’s actually a used car. The seller misled you to believe that the car was brand new and in good condition when in truth, it wasn’t. This could’ve been an honest mistake or done knowingly. Business owners who mislead consumers can be fined up to RM250,000.
When faced with situations like this, you can usually speak to the seller and ask for a replacement, but if they refuse to comply, you can drop an email and follow through with TTPM.
2. Goods and services that don’t comply with set safety standards
Goods and services must comply to safety standards set by the ministry. Part III, Section 19 of the Consumer Protection Act 1999 states that the minister sets the standards based on recommendations and consultations with relevant and competent agencies.
It’s unacceptable to sell goods or services that have failed to passed the safety standards set.
For example, you buy a hair dryer and get electrocuted after using it for the first time. You bring it back to the shop you got it from and ask for a replacement as the hair dryer comes with a one year warranty. You get a replacement, only to realise that the new one is faulty too.
The best way to deal with this issue would be to clarify the problem with the seller and if that fails, an official complaint for claims can be sent to TTPM. Vendors that are caught selling products that do not comply to set safety standards can be fined up to RM250,000.
3. When the supplier makes guarantees about the quality, pricing, repair, spare parts that they don’t comply to
Part V of the Consumer Protection 1999 stated that every goods and services supplied must be guaranteed in respect of satisfactory quality, purpose, description, price, repair and spare parts.
For example, selling a washing machine that is not working is clearly in violation of the prohibition of the faulty goods sales rule and it’s not fit for the purpose of the consumer. However, suppliers and sellers have the tendency to paint a very pretty picture of the product or service they sell which is understandable, as it is part of the marketing process. But, some overeager sellers make guarantees to which they cannot live up to.
As a consumer, you have the right to receive fair judgment which includes compensation for your purchase of goods or services received that had a misleading trade description, was of poor quality or if you received unsatisfactory services. You can submit a claim for compensation to the Tribunal For Consumer Claims Malaysia.
Aside from that, make sure you keep all types of documentation pertaining to your purchase or service received from the trader who you’re seeking claims from as it will be required for evidence purposes. The usual evidence which will be required are receipts, invoices, advertising materials, flawed products and brochures or any other type of documents or materials which would help your complaints case.
While it may seem a little tedious to read hundreds of pages worth of consumer laws, they may very well protect you in times of need – so that awareness is crucial as a consumer. Being informed about the basics of consumer rights can help you out of tricky situations and avoid unnecessary hassle.
Ed: To find out how to file a claim/complaint at the Tribunal For Consumer Claims, read this post.