A Woman shops at a supermarket in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: AP)
The new consumer protection law, ratified on Sunday by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, will take effect in three months time. Once implemented, consumers will benefit from a range of new rights.
Here are 10 advantages of the new law.
1) Protecting the consumer’s right of choice and honest advertising
Through strict penalties against companies or merchants who violate regulations, the new law criminalizes the monopoly of any product or market and false and/or misleading advertisements in any format, with a fine of up to EGP two million per violation.
2) Clear Arabic in all communications
Suppliers are now legally obligated to ensure that all forms of communication between them and consumers are in a clear, easy to read font in Arabic. In addition, they may communicate in up to two other languages, if they prefer. The law also details that specific supplier information (address, contact details, trademark) must be included on the product.
3) Easy to read product information, including after tax price
In an effort to combat current issues related to lack of information, especially in food products, the law requires suppliers to show all core information of the product, while abiding by the rules of clarity detailed above. The seller is also legally bound to disclose a clearly stated price with tax included and to adhere to clarity and language rules, while providing receipts for any transaction.
4) Two week no-questions-asked returns
The consumer has the right to replace or return for a full refund any product without reason within 14 days. However, the right to reduce this period is maintained depending on the nature of the product, but has to be explicitly and clearly mentioned upon purchase.
5) One month return of faulty products
The consumer has a right to return any faulty product for a full refund or replacement in the span of 30 days after purchase. Also, the seller is now required to replace any product that malfunctions more than twice in one year without any additional costs incurred upon the consumer, in an effort to avoid band-aid repairs and their harm to consumers.
6) Access to detailed conditions of pre-owned products
The sale of any pre-owned product, if proven that there are intentionally undisclosed faults that would have affected the price of the product on the part of the seller or the supplier will incur a penalty of between EGP 10,000 and EGP 50,000 or the value of the product, whichever is higher.
7) A used car’s condition must to be validated by service centres
The law obliges sellers of used cars to disclose any malfunctions with the car through a detailed report of the car’s condition from the car’s relevant certified service centre to aid transparency and consumer awareness, which has been largely lacking in the used car market.
8) Severe penalties for physical harm caused by faulty products
Permanent physical harm inflicted on consumers as a result of a faulty product will be penalized through imprisonment and a fine of EGP 100,000 or in the value of the product, whichever is higher.
9) Severe penalties for death caused by faulty products
In the event of the product causing the death of one or more persons, the penalty for the seller/supplier is life in prison and a fine between EGP 200,000 and EGP two million or in the value of the product, whichever is higher.
10) Unlimited time on returns for products as ruled by court
Now consumers will have the right to get their money back in full for a product during any timeframe in the event of any transgression by the seller once ruled by a court to do so, if they have not already done so before the ruling.
If applied as intended, the law will empower consumers and level the playing field between buyers and sellers, provided that consumers are aware of their rights.