UAE consumer Q&As: A reader asks about hidden service charges

And what about a refund if you buy a product that is not faulty, but simply change your mind?
Q: Why are the service charges and taxes at hotels and restaurants hidden from the consumer? Is there a law that forbids companies, restaurants or hotels from displaying the full amount on a menu or a price list?

A: All hotels, restaurants and companies are required to mention service charges on their price list or menus. If those charges are not mentioned or omitted but later added to a bill then the consumer is not bound by service charges. The key is to notify the consumer about those charges prior to any purchase. If a consumer feels that charges are unjust then he can file a complaint at consumer department pursuant to Article 13 of Law no?24 of 2006.

Q: I've noticed that some petrol stations around the border of Oman take a variety of currencies; is this common with all Adnoc stations or only a few strategically located ones?

A: If the gas station is located in the UAE then it falls under purview of UAE consumer protection laws (law no 24 of 2006). Prices for petrol must be charged in accordance with standards set by UAE authorities. A petrol station may be willing to accept currencies, other than local currency, at its discretion or in line with company policy. There is no breach of law in the UAE if a seller or supplier is willing to accept currencies other than local currencies. However they cannot refuse to accept local UAE currency.

Q: What right do you have to a refund if you buy a product from a shop and it's not faulty, you have just changed your mind? 

A: As per article 5 of law no 24 of 2006, a seller is obliged to either exchange a product or provide a refund in only two circumstances: a) if the product or goods supplied were faulty; or b) if the product was supplied with a wrong description - the description of product does not conform with standard specification. A seller is not obliged to refund you if you have changed your mind after the purchase. A cause of action can only arise if, and only if, one of the two aforementioned grounds exists.

If you have a question for Mr Elhais, email with the subject line 'Consumer Q&A'.

Published: February 25, 2015 04:00 AM