Who protects the consumer from cheating? [Archives:2003/659/Business & Economy]

August 14 2003

The phenomenon of cheating in sale of goods and food stuffs, manipulation in weights and increase of prices, in spontaneous and random manner, having nothing to do with the law of supply and demand, has become so aggravated in a manner endangering the consumer life. Swindling as a habit and behaviour is practiced especially by peddlers, some retailers, smugglers and even those selling fruits and vegetables who fabricate various forms in marketing and expired products or still unripe even though they know those products are not good for human consumption.
Merchants and dealers take advantage of the freedom of competition in the markets and not being committed or forced on a unified pricing system and therefore they purposely impose whatever high prices on foodstuffs in absence of regulations and restraints deterring them.
Traders practice swindling in selling products on sidewalks and markets and manipulation in weights and mixing gods with additional materials to make them heavier in weight as well as using broken-down scales.
The phenomenon of cheating includes almost all foodstuffs, spices and fruits. Marketing researches reveal that swindling also covers displaying expired fruit juices, beverages and chocolates and selling them for low prices but they are harmful for health of the people. Researches also indicate that Yemeni markets are lacking of criteria on protecting public health against consumption of decayed substances and marketing unripe fruits and polluted with poisonous agricultural insecticides.
Consumers say the free market means offering services to people with competitive prices commensurate to availability of goods and materials displayed for selling. But, they add, what goes on in shops represents chaos necessary to stop. The problem gets aggravated by selling smuggled goods whose country of origin is unknown and expired. Such goods are not bearing any trade mark promoted by smuggling dealers.
The question to be asked here is who would protect the Yemeni consumer, especially those of limited income from this cheating phenomenon. These people are mainly forced to buy such goods for the cheapness of their prices.