retailers.jpgBy Tapiwa Machemedze

 

On Tuesday, Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in observing World Consumer Rights Day.

 

With the cost living in Zimbabwe being one of the highest in the region, the country’s service providers and various social and economic sectors have come under the spotlight for not having the interests of consumers at heart.

 

The modern day era of industrialisation, mass production and ever-changing computer technology has ushered in production efficiency as well as fierce competition in business.

 

But while customers should be celebrating these developments, service providers appear to have thrown the words ‘customer service’ out of the window.

 

With shoddy telecommunications services, sweets for change in supermarkets, potholes on the roads, the consumers are barely getting value for money.

 

One is forced to ask, what happened to the days when the customer was king and service providers scrambled to be at your beck and call?

 

A business consultant, Mr. Chris Kasiyazi says there are a number of reasons for this shoddy service and a shift of mindset is needed.

 

“The business people are not trained in customer care and some of them have total disregard for customers,” said Mr Kasiyazi.

 

Many Zimbabweans have personally experienced the rough treatment at the hands of commuter omnibus crews who treat customers as trash.

Zimbabwean consumers who celebrated consumer rights day this Tuesday say they are fed up with service providers who are failing to perform their duties to expectations.

 

“Service providers in virtually every sector no longer have any care about customers,” said one consumer in the capital.

There appears to be no end in sight to consumer rights abuses.

 

Legislators are currently crafting an amendment bill to change the role of NIPC from a price regulatory authority to a price monitoring and advisory board, a move strongly supported by business.

 

Consumer Council of Zimbabwe remains powerless, but a consumer rights protection bill is on the cards to increase customers’ rights on the market.

 

“We are calling upon relevant authorities, government, every body to put their hands together to make sure consumers are treated fairly,” said Ms Rose Chikarakara, CCZ Deputy Director.

 

Analysts say the disclaimer clauses in sales contracts, no guarantees and no refunds for defunct goods need to be removed as they can be legally challenged successfully.

 

The call for service providers to show a little respect for the Zimbabwean consumer is loud and clear.

 

Consumers are demanding value for money, transparency and above all a little respect for that hard-earned dollar.