Christmas is just round the corner and this is the time to shop! Car manufacturers are offering their year end bargains, malls are filled with the latest fashion collections and beauty saloons have packages galore to ensure that you look your best.
But, sometimes we get caught up in the glossy hype and end up with goods or services that are less than satisfactory. Ain’t that familiar?
We purchase a car and it’s a lemon. The car is fraught with problems and we end up going back to the service centre over and over again. Sometimes, it does not even get rectified at all.
We buy an electrical appliance and the thing burns out within a month or so.
Or the contractor who renovates that dream home of yours, ends up delivering a job akin to what Dr Frankenstein would be proud of.
When faced with such dilemma what do we do?
More often than not, the amount involved does not make it worth your while to sue the trader. Legal fees and time required to attend court is a drag. But, then again, the amount is not that little that we can easily just brush it aside as a lesson learnt.
Well, there is always a solution.
For consumers who are unhappy with goods or services supplied you can now bring an action in the Tribunal For Consumer Claims (the “Tribunal”).
The Tribunal is an independent body established under the Consumer Protection Act 1999 (“the Act”) to hear and determine claims filed by consumers under the Act. This forum provides an alternate avenue for consumers to file claims in an easy, inexpensive and speedy manner.
The Tribunal has the jurisdiction to hear:
- any claim in respect of any matter within its jurisdiction to hear as provided for under the Act;
- where the total amount claimed does not exceed RM25,000.00;
- any claim in respect of any goods or services for which no redress mechanism is provided for under any other written law; and
- a claim based on a cause of action which accrues within 3 years of the claim.
Limitations on jurisdiction
Generally, the Tribunal CANNOT hear any claim relating to:
- personal injury or death;
- the recovery of land or any estate or interest in land;
- dispute in respect of title of any land or estate or interest in land;
- dispute concerning the entitlement of any person under a will or on any intestacy;
- dispute on matter in respect of franchise, good will, trade secrets or other intellectual property or any chose in action
Types of claims
Most of the claims that the Tribunal hears relates to:
- misleading or deceptive conduct in relation to services as to the nature, characteristics, suitability for a purpose, quality and quantity of the goods or services;
- false or misleading representation in relation to goods or services
Now, the big question...
Here is a short guide as to how one can file a claim with the Tribunal and what happens next:
- The claimant is required to fill up a claim form known as Form 1. It can be obtained, free of charge, from the Tribunal branches or be downloaded from the E-Tribunal portal. A fee off RM5.00 is chargeable upon filing though.
- The Form 1 is then to be served, by the claimant on the trader. A date will be set for hearing by the Tribunal.
- The trader may then want to settle this matter or it may file its own defence by filing Form 2 and serving it on the claimant.
- At the hearing there is no legal representation. In short, no lawyers will be allowed to assist in the matter.
- The President of the tribunal will hear the claim and assist both parties. The Tribunal provides assistance on matters of law etc.
- The Tribunal will then make a ruling at the end of the hearing. The claim may be settled amicably between parties, of which is a common thing. However, and award may be made it might be in favour of the claimant or perhaps the claim is dismissed.
- If the award is made in favour of the claimant and the trader does not adhere to the award, it is a criminal offence in the Act.
So, next time when you get a lemon, here's the recipe to make lemonade!