Refund woes lead surge in Dubai consumer complaints

More than 14,200 consumer complaints made from July to September – up from 10,266 in 2019

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: N/A: Coronavirus / Covid-19. Mall of the Emirates has partially reopened, operating from 12pm to 10pm but entertainment facilities such as Ski Dubai and cinemas remain closed. Shoppers are allowed a maximum of three hours in the mall. Saturday, April 25th, 2020. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Refund woes led to a 39 per cent increase in consumer complaints in Dubai, government data shows.

Dubai Economy on Sunday revealed 14,274 consumer complaints were made from July to September – up from 10,266 in 2019.

Twenty-eight 28 per cent of complaints related to refunds, followed by breaking agreement terms at 15.85 per cent and then damage or defect in a product at 15.14 per cent.

Commercial fraud followed at 10 per cent while the remainder related to after-sales issues, VAT, price hikes, hidden fees and fraudulent purchases of gold and diamonds.

The largest share of complaints – 32 per cent – was made about services, followed by electronics at 16 per cent and e-commerce at 12.6 per cent. These were followed by furniture (7.3 per cent); cars (5.5 per cent); freight (5.2 per cent); and car rental at 3.28 per cent.

“Dubai Economy is keen on enhancing consumer confidence in the emirate through resolving consumer complaints amicably, thus promoting mutual trust between merchants and consumers," said Mohammed Ali Lootah, chief executive of Dubai Economy's commercial compliance and consumer protection section.

"Our awareness programmes aim to clarify the rights and duties of consumers as well as merchants, and enhance the principles of transparency in transactions."

Data from earlier this year showed how a surge in online shopping during the pandemic led to a 228 per cent jump in consumer complaints about e-commerce, according to government data.

Dubai Economy said the increase in complaints was attributed to growing awareness.

Emiratis accounted for 29 per cent of the consumer complaints received, followed by Indians at 13 per cent, Egyptians at 12 per cent and Saudis and Jordanians with 5 per cent each.

"More and more consumers interacting with Dubai Economy and filing their complaints show improving consumer rights awareness," Mr Lootah said.

Of the total complaints, 50 per cent were submitted through the Dubai Consumer app, 35 per cent through the website and 15 per cent through the call centre.

Dubai Economy also called on everyone to report any non-compliance through the Dubai Consumer app, by calling 600545555, or by visiting the website.