Websites without Dubai consumer helpline to be fined

All .ae domain websites and companies headquartered in Dubai have three months to add a consumer complaint hotline, the Department of Economic Development says.

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DUBAI // All websites representing companies headquartered in the emirate have three months to add the consumer complaints hotline to their homepages.

The directive has been issued by the Department of Economic Development (DED) and companies failing to comply are being warned they could be fined.

The DED decided to push through the new directive after an increase in online purchases and consumer complaints about such purchases.

"A significant level of retailing happens online in Dubai nowadays and the number of such transactions is growing," said Omar Bushahab, chief executive of the Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection (CCCP) division at DED.

"Online purchases are seen as more convenient and the choices are varied.

"The UAE being the leader in internet usage in the region and the easy availability of credit cards in the country makes it easier to shop online."

The DED says it wants online buyers to be as aware of their rights as people shopping in malls.

Shops, cafes, restaurants and other outlets in Dubai already display yellow signs with details of the DED's consumer protection department at counters and on walls.

The awareness drive was launched in 2010 to clear up confusion among consumers about their rights and to provide them with a way to make complaints if they felt it was necessary.

The department said there are currently more than 100 websites offering e-commerce services in the UAE according to estimates up until March of this year.

The value of online trade has also now crossed the Dh7 billion mark.

"DED monitors all sales activity and works with retail outlets to ensure a progressive retailing environment in Dubai," said Mr Bushahab.

"We consider it important that any business is transacted in a responsible and sustainable manner, with due regard to quality, integrity and the consumer's right to know and have his legitimate complaints duly redressed."

Anyone wishing to report a consumer complaint is urged to contact the DED's hotline on 600 545555.