UAE consumer Q&As: Reader asks about faulty purchases

And find out who is entitled to use contact details given to a merchant at the time of purchase.

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Q: What can I do if I've bought an electronic item that was faulty but the shop refuses to exchange it because the exchange date has passed?

A: As a default rule, all faulty or defective products must either be replaced or money should be refunded. Shop owners and suppliers are obliged to adhere with consumer regulations by allowing customers to exchange defective goods within a reasonable time frame. Customers are entitled to a refund if the defect was present at the time of purchase. The request for a refund may not be denied by the seller when a demand is made by the customer. Consumers are also entitled to make a formal complaint against the seller if a request for a refund was denied.

Q: I bought a gold ornament from one of the famous gold brands in Abu Dhabi and since then they have chased me to buy more stuff. I shared my contact details with them at the time of purchase, but do they have a right to share these details with marketing and sales people?

A: Confidential personal information must not be shared with any third party without obtaining prior consent of the individual whose information was shared. It is a punishable offence that may entail a prison sentence of at least one year or a fine of Dh10,000 as per law No 2 of 2006. In some cases, the court may impose a fine and a prison sentence depending on the seriousness of injury caused. Such discretionary power lies with the appropriate court.

Q: When a lower price is advertised to that charged at a till, a shop worker will often say the difference will come out of his or her salary. This sounds immoral and illegal. Is it?

A: Illusory offers and promises are strictly forbidden in the UAE. Article 1 of Law No 1979 states whoever deceives or attempts to deceive a consumer or a party to a contract may be punished by a jail sentence or a monetary fine between Dh500 and Dh10,000. Therefore, if illusory prices were offered with the intention of deceiving a consumer then the consumer may have a course of action against the seller. Filing a consumer complaint may assist them in seeking a remedy against supplier or seller.

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