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Consumers fall victim to fraud; counterfeit goods flood Kuwait

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 1: It has become crystal clear that the counterfeit goods have invaded the local markets irrespective whether they are electronic, electrical and sanitary appliances, auto parts, disinfectants or any other products.

Goods being sold at local markets

The Al-Seyassah daily surveyed the markets and at random spoke to Kuwaitis and expatriates and also the salesmen of electrical appliances and other stores and everyone was of the opinion that counterfeit goods have become very popular in the local market because no one cares anymore about the quality of the products they buy. They also said the buyers, without the exception of a few are conscious of what they buy, but for a majority what they buy must serve the purpose.

However, some respondents stressed on the importance of activating control over those markets, as many consumers fall victim to fraud, especially those who do not have sufficient knowledge to distinguish between the original and the counterfeit products. One of the Kuwaitis, who identified himself as Bu Ali says that commercial fraud has affected all products without exception, so he prefers to buy branded electrical appliances from approved agencies despite their high price, indicating that those shops that focus on consumers are run by Arabs and Asian nationalities, indicating that the only solution is to buy from agents.

Goods being sold at local markets

Control
He pointed out lack of control by the official authorities contributed to the spread of the phenomenon of commercial fraud in the markets. Another man, HanafiMahmoud, says he bought a battery for his mobile phone and the seller told him it is original, but after a short while it swelled and nearly destroyed the device and when he went to the showroom from which he bought it and threatened to file a complaint against the salesman with the Consumer Protection Department, the salesman apologized and replaced the battery with an original one.

A Kuwaiti, who identified himself as S.H., says the tradition has long gone even for sportswear of international brands, and whoever does not have the experience of purchasing and the most accurate details of international products can easily fall prey to commercial fraud. Surprising, when the daily visited a store that sells electrical appliances, the salesman explicitly admitted that he only sells counterfeit products and some original products, but he said he does not cheat his customers by telling them which is original and which is counterfeit.

In most cases, he said, the customers prefer the counterfeit goods, because they are cheap and within everyone’s reach. For example, he said, he sells hair dryer of the same name and brand and Control He pointed out lack of control by the official authorities contributed to the spread of the phenomenon of while the counterfeit sells for 15 dinars, the cost of the original product is not less than 25 dinars. Another owner of the electrical appliances showroom, who identified himself as M.S., stated he sells all the original and imitation Chinese products, but he explains to the customer the type of commodity he sells so that he does not fall under the penalty of the law, as the Consumer Protection Centers may punish him with heavy fines and sometimes may even close the shop.

Damage
He advised customers to check the product before purchasing, especially all its details. He warned against the danger of using counterfeit electrical products such as fans, heaters, fruit mixers, hair straighter and hair removal machines because they could be subject to damage and may lead to electrocution of the user.

A car repair garage official said he gives a choice for the customer as to what kind of parts he wants to use in the car — original or commercial and that in most cases the customer opts for commercial. A source at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, who preferred to remain anonymous, stated the Consumer Protection Department plays its role in controlling non-original products, but the move is faster in the event of complaints received from consumers, pointing out that there are cases referred to the prosecution and there are financial fines and in the event of repeated commercial fraud the establishments face closure.

He advised the consumer to report the commercial fraud to the Consumer Protection Department without returning to the store from which he bought the product after discovering the commercial fraud. He stated that the proliferation of counterfeit goods violates the intellectual property rights law, as it constitutes clear piracy of property rights.

The latest annual report issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for 2019, shows 2,788 complaints were filed with the department, while in 2018 the number was 1,342. The complaints related to vehicle garages, general trade establishments, contracting companies, selling tires, aluminum, glass, spare parts, and against electrical stores, publishers, stores selling electrical appliances, supermarkets, stores selling clothes and shoes, furniture and furnishings, selling gold jewelry shops and others.

By Najeh Bilal Al-Seyassah Staff

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