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newsletter A4size pgs1-16.indd
It has gone down in the
history books of Fiji as the
backbone of the economy
next to sugar and gold. But
it has failed to bounce back
and only to be replaced
with tourism. The demise
of the copra industry has
left a great open agricultural wound. The country
is reminded of just how
deep the wound is whenever import and export
figures are highlighted.
About 100,000 plus people today depend partly
or wholly on the industry for their livelihoods.
Many of the people, who
are directly involved as
producers reside in the
rural areas of the remote
outer islands. Their average income on record for
the people in the coconut
industry is the lowest in
the country with an estimation of less than $500
per household per year.
Recently, the producers involved in the copra
industry decided to raise
their grievances with the
Consumer Council of Fiji
instead of with the Coconut Industry Development
Authority (CIDA). CIDA
is a statutory government
establishment set up in
1998 to revive the coconut
industry. This responsibility was taken away from
the Ministry of Agricul-
ture to give the revival of the
industry much more prominence. Although since 1998
copra production has seen a
gradual increase, the industry has much more potential
and can contribute greatly in
the export figures. However,
it is not capable of doing that
now because the industry is
riddled with many problem-
atic issues that have been left
unaddressed for too long.
The Consumer Council wishes to highlight these issues so
that the respective stakeholders
would know of their existence
and would work to address them.
Weight of copra
Producers receive payment
for their supply of copra to the
buyers based on the weight of
the product. At the initial point
before the copra is
loaded onto a ship,
the producers weigh
their bags of copra
and carefully place
a shipping mark to
differentiate
their
bags from the other producers. The
weight and the number of bags loaded
by the producer are
documented on a
shipping receipt of
the vessel the copra
is loaded on. The
producers therefore
expect to receive
cargoes and a list of
producers or consignors of the copra,
the number of bags
and their respective shipping marks
and instructions as
to who and/or how
the proceeds are to
be paid. The initial
problem arises at the
point of unloading
from the ship where
it takes up to almost
a week for the buyer
to uplift the copra
from the wharf. In
the meantime, the
copra is left out in
the open and the element without due
care or responsibility
by whomever. The
bags are off loaded
...cont’d on pg 3
Consumer News
(cont’d from pg 1)
anyhow without due consideration
given to the identification marks
placed on each bag by its producer. Hence, the buyers load the total
number of bags indicated on the
manifest without little or no consideration whatsoever for the individual
shipping identification marks. They
also fail to weigh the product before
leaving the wharf area and provide a
documented receipt to the shipping
company to cross check the number of bags and/or the weight stated.
The next point of problem arises when the carrier that loaded the
bags of copra off loads the product
at the final destination. Here the
product is weighed and documented
to record the payment deserved by
the producers. However, the copra
is not weighed on arrival to determine whether there were losses of
weight en-route for which the carrier is accountable for. This is another dark area where losses cannot
be quantified and those responsible
taken to task. Consequently, the
weight is affected and the producers
get a lesser payment than expected
– one, through losses in weight during the various stages of transshipping, handling and delivery or the
combination of all these factors and
two, the tactics where the number of
bags is tallied to match that stated
as belonging to a producer, regardless of the shipping marks or identifications. This means that, e.g.,
a producer who shipped 10 bags
weighing a total of 450kg might
still get paid for the right number
of bags (10) which will be shown
on the buyer’s receipt, but say only
390kg is paid for, because due care
to ensure that the shipping marks are
checked on and off throughout the
delivery processes, are not made.
In addition, because the copra
bags with different identification
marks were loaded from the wharf,
the producers are informed by the
buyers that they have received
only a certain number of bags that
match the particular producers
mark. Hence, the producers ex- Development Fund Board (FDFB).
pected payment again is affected. All Cess deductions are required to
be paid to (FDFB) within a month of
Missing bags
Many of the producers wait for receipt of the copra supply from the
weeks to receive their payment, producers. However, it is understood
which does not eventuate be- that the buyers are deducting the levy
cause they are ultimately told by from the final payment of the producer
the buyers that their copra sup- but the money is not being forwarded
ply was not received at the wharf. to FDFB on time. The fund was set
At other times due to the absence up to assist the producers in their time
of a proper storage facility, the of need, such as for the payment of
copra supply is irresponsibly off school fees of their children. In one of
loaded on a wharf into no ones the cases the last credited record with
care. Shipping companies as well FDFB is December 2004. Clearly the
as carrier hiring companies have buyers should be questioned for the
been blamed for the missing co- non credited monies of the producers.
The Consumer Council understands
pra. However, they have failed to
that
there are only three copra buyers
accept the blame or compensate
any of the producers to date be- in the country namely JKS Holdings
cause the culprits simply cannot Limited, Punja & Sons Limited and
be identified. The question to ask Copra Millers of Fiji. These buyers
then is who should be responsible need to consider the hard work and
blamed for copra supply that goes sacrifice of the producers by offering
missing while being transported them incentives that would encourage
to the buyers? The hardworking them to increase their production of
producers stand to loss out on the copra and therefore revive the indusmuch needed payment when the try to its glory days. Because of such
product goes missing and the ship- rip-offs that bring no benefits to the
ping companies, the carrier hiring producers, they are being forced to
companies or the buyers are will- give up copra farming and sell their
ing to compensate the producers. land to those who may not be interested in continuing in the production.
Price of packing bags
Moreover, if the copra production
The producers are currently required to purchase bags to pack is not given the attention it deserves,
copra at their own expense. The it would have an impact on the ac50kg secondhand polythene sugar cessibility of shipping services to the
or flour bags are commonly sup- outer islands. Currently, some of the
plied for use. A single bag can be shipping companies are making trips
used three times before it wears to the islands because of copra proout. However, the buyers fail to duction. If the industry ceases to exist,
return the bags to the producers these companies would not consider
although the return freight of these services to the outer islands viable.
The Consumer Council of Fiji is urgare deducted at source. Consequently, the producers who could ing the relevant stakeholders in the
be paying once for a bag and use copra industry to address the problem
it three times are having the pay- areas highlighted now. The indusment for the supply of the packing try can be revived contrary to genbags deducted in every payment. eral believes held by many people. It
is the producers who need to be emCopra Cess Funds
For every tonne of copra sold powered and taken great care of if
to the buyer $20 is deducted as the industry is to make a comeback.
Loading of copra on the ship
‘Cess levy’. The levy is deducted
Before
copra is loaded onto
by the buyer to go to the credit
of the producer with the Fijian a ship, producers weigh their bags
(cont’d on pg 4)
Consumer Council of Fiji
Newsletter 2007
3
Consumer News
of copra and carefully place a
shipping mark to differentiate
their bags from other producers. The weight and the number
of bags loaded by the producers
are documented on a shipping
receipt issued by a shipping officer on the assigned vessel.
Upon arrival at the destination
wharf, the shipping company is
required to issue a manifest to
the buyers notifying them of the
copra cargoes, the names of the
producers or consignors of the
copra, the number of bags being supplied to each buyer (as
well as their respective shipping marks) and a breakdown
on how the payment is expected to be made. This important
document, although required,
often fails to exchange hands.
Unloading of copra at the
wharf
The initial problem arises at the
point of unloading from the assigned ship where the buyer delays the collection of copra bags,
sometimes for many weeks.
Meanwhile, in the absence of a
proper storage facility, the copra
is left unattended and exposed to
conditions that affect the quality of copra. This also gives an
opportunity for people to remove some of the bags without
having anyone account for it.
Carting of Copra
The copra bags are also
off-loaded from the ship
without due consideration
being given to the identification marks placed on
each bag by the producers.
The buyers therefore load
the copra bags according to
the total number indicated
on the manifest document
instead of according to
identification marks placed
on them by producers.
Another problem arises with
regard to the carrier who loaded
the bags from the destined wharf
for the millers. The weight of the
4
product becomes immaterial
during the off-loading and
carting phase, indeed is only
important when it reaches
the millers where the product is weighed. However,
since no document was
produced on the weight of
the copra collected from
the wharf area, it becomes
impossible to cross-check
it against the weight stated
by the producer. It is a common occurrence for copra to
be “pinched” from the bags
during transportation. For
example, a producer who
shipped 10 bags weighing
a total of 450kg might still
get paid for the right number of bags (10) - which
will be shown on the buyer’s receipt - but the weights
documented by both the
producer and the buyer are
likely to differ. The producer therefore only receives
an end-payment for 390kg.
Producers remuneration
calculation
There is a complete lack
of transparency in the way
the producers are paid for
the shipment of copra. The
final weight and grading of
copra is done in the milling stations in the absence
of the producers. Producers
have no choice but to accept whatever payment is
made to them by the buyers.
There is a complete lack
of transparency in the way
the producers are paid for
the shipment of copra. The
final weight and grading of
copra is done in the milling stations in the absence
of the producers. Producers
have no choice but to accept whatever payment is
made to them by the buyers.
There are only two millers in the country who are
operating below capac-
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Copra producers want their concerns addressed
ity. Because of the “rip-offs” described above,
many producers receive few benefits and are
being forced to give up copra farming. Producers and millers are both affected as a result.
If copra production is not given the attention it deserves, it will have a deleterious impact on the accessibility of shipping services
to the outer islands. If the industry ceases to
exist, the shipping companies will not consider services to the outer islands viable. It
is in the states’ interest to revive the industry for a number of reasons, for example:
improving the quality of life for our rural people by increasing their income level.
improving shipping services to the outer islands and hence saving the franchise funds.
reducing trade deficit by increasing our export.
Contrary to general belief, the industry can
be revived. Coconut can be purchased either
as a whole nut, a green kernel, or in its dried
form. To make the industry viable, CIDA must
become proactive and address the problems
faced by producers. Producers must be encouraged in the same way as the sugar industry
to return the copra industry to its glory days.
Recommendation for Solutions
Copra Millers/Punjas & Sons to uplift copra
from the wharf using hoppers/containerized
trucks where copra is spilt into these and transportation in its bulk form and not by the bags.
This will ensure that:
Proper cut off and a clear handing over of
responsibilities from the shipping company to
the buyer.
Minimizes losses of weight through spillages
and/or pilferage
Empty bags are retained by the shipping
company at the wharf for return freighting to
the respective consignors. Note that the shipping company now has full responsibility for
the return of these bags to the producers who
will only pay freight for the actual number of
bags landed at the islands.
Consumer Council of Fiji
Newsletter 2007
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Complaints Analysis
Complaint Statistics from April - June 2007
Centre
Total registered complaints
Complaints resolved through mediation
Pending cases
Cases refered to & assisted in small claims
tribunal
Cases refered to other authorities
Adviced issues
Weak cases
Suva
165
99
37
21
Lautoka
90
39
5
26
Labasa
98
98
47
4
Total
353
236
89
51
1
13
17
95
9
9
5
-
18
113
26
-
Explanatory note:
• Between April to June this year, 353 complaints were registered with the Council as compared to 379 registered
cases between January to March – a decrease by 26 cases.
• 236 consumer complaints were successfully resolved through mediation, resulting in a refund/compensation of approximately $55,081.80 to consumers by the business community or service providers. The cases considered resolved
were those in which a settlement had been made to the complainant’s satisfaction or where the customer no longer
wished to pursue the matter. Customers get redress in different forms such as exchange of the product purchased, repair or rebate. The Council has set itself a target of resolving at least 80 per cent of complaints within 10 working days
of receiving them, and no less than 80 per cent resolution overall by year-end.
• 51 cases were referred to the Small Claims Tribunal following the failure of reaching amicable solutions. The
Council mediation officers assist complainants in filling of the form and should there be a need, represents them in the
Tribunal.
• 18 cases were referred to other authorities such as the Department of Fair Trading, Prices & Incomes Board, and
Commerce Commission etc. The nature of these complaints fell into the jurisdiction of the other authorities with regular follow up from the Council officers.
• 26 cases were considered weak as they lacked relevant evidence for the Council officers to pursue.
• 89 cases were left pending to be pursued in the July month. Depending on the nature of some cases it proves difficult to meet the 10 day target.
• 113 consumers simply contacted the Council to seek advice on various issues.
Issues
Real Estate services
Landlord/Tenancy
Transportation
Medical
Motor Vehicle
Insurance/Banking/Legal
Education
Hire Purchase/Layby sale
Construction,Installation,Craftsmanship
Product packaging/Labelling
White goods(TV, Radio, Fridge, Furniture)
Clothing/Footwear/Textile/Jewelry/Watches
Telecommunications
Water /Electricity
Money lending
Entertainment
Total
Explanatory Note:
Suva
2
74
3
12
12
3
7
4
11
15
3
11
3
2
3
165
Lautoka
5
31
2
9
10
9
2
2
5
11
4
90
Labasa
2
10
3
1
7
17
1
4
14
13
6
15
2
3
98
Toatal
9
115
6
3
28
39
4
16
10
27
33
20
30
5
5
3
353
The above table provide a breakdown by subject matter of the number of complaints lodged with the Consumer
Council between April to June 2007. It reveals that the Council received more complaints about residential tenancy.
When compared to data from January to March 2007, complaints concerning a number of consumer issues decreased from April to June. However, residential tenancy related issues rose significantly during this period.
Consumer Council of Fiji
Newsletter 2007
5
Consumer Complaint
Anyone for Cockroach
bread?
The picture shows a cockroach infested bread on a
shelf of a bakery shop located
outside Suva city. This is in
breach of the Pure Foods Act
regulation. The Council visited the bakery and has
also referred the case to the Ministry of Health.
Throat lozenges: Relief or rip off?
Is it oil or water?
The information on the Captain tinned fish label is
misleading the consumers. It states
water as an ingredient at the
back of the label while the
front part of the label states
in big bold letters ‘Mackerel in Natural Oil.’ The
country of origin from
where the fish was sourced is not mentioned on the label. The tinned fish label also does
not carry an expiry date and a batch number in case
there is a need for a product recall. The Council
has referred the product to the Ministry of Health
who are the regulators of the Pure Foods Act.
Australians spend over $60 million
each year on throat lozenges, and we’re certainly well
catered for- CHOICE’s foray into supermarkets and pharmacies turned up around 60 different varieties. But when
we looked at the evidence behind the ingredients it started
to look as if we’re largely wasting our money.
Labelling please
This packet of biscuit sold in
the supermarkets around the
country does not carry the:
� manufacturer’s name
and address
� details of the place of
origin
� importer’s name and
address
� list of ingredients
� warning statements
for
consumers who have allergies to
peanuts, eggs, tree nuts, sesame seeds etc. Yet
another case for the Ministry of Health.
Everyone who’s had a sore throat
knows how miserable it can make
you feel- the dry, scratchy rawness
and the pain when you swallow. It’s
easy enough to keep throat lozenges
at hand, but do they help, or are we
being sucked in?
Lozenges that contain anesthetic or analgesic (painkilling) ingredients are the most likely to help relieve symptoms associated with a sore throat, but you’ll usually have
to pay a bit more for ones with these ingredients (often
over 50 cents per lozenge, compared with less than 10
cents per lozenge for non- medicated products). The rest
of the lozenges are unlikely to be any more soothing than
sucking on a hard lolly. See the table, pages 30-31, for a
list of products and their key ingredients.
That said, simply sucking on a lozenge (or a lolly) can
have a soothing effect by helping to lubricate the throat.
And for the most part, non- medicated lozenges are relatively cheap, so if a particular product or flavour makes
you feel better you might think it’s worth it. But there
are alternative ways of dealing with sore throats that you
might find just as effective, and probably even cheaper.
Throat therapy
Taking paracetamol or aspirin (for adults) is an effective
way to relieve the pain and discomfort of a sore throat.
But if you’d rather not take any medication, the following
might also help:
•
Drink warm liquids. Hot water with honey and
DID YOU KNOW?
lemon is a time- tested remedy.
The biggest enemy of the consumers are
•
Gargle with warm salt water (half a teaspoon of
the consumers themselves. They do not
salt in one cup of water).
check the product, the packaging, the
•
Suck on ice.
seals, batch number, name and address
•
Use you air humidifier, if you have one.
of manufacturer, product ingredients,
and the date of manufacturing or expiry
A sore throat usually resolves itself within three to four
of the product.
days, and it’s unusual for one to last beyond a week. If it
persists, or your symptoms include severe difficulty swalGoods must be as described, of satisfactory quality lowing or breathing, a fever or tender or swollen lymph
and fit for their purpose-Fair Trading Decree 1992 glands in the neck, see your doctor.
www.choice.com.au
6
Consumer Council of Fiji
Newsletter 2007
Consumer Complaint
Property valuation: How much can you trust the
valuator?
T
he valuation of any property, no matter the size or location is a professional task and should not be taken for
granted by the client. However, in the case of a USP lecturer,
the property valuator himself failed to take his job seriously.
In September 2006, Dr. E. W. bought a property that
only a few months earlier had been valued. The negotiations about the sales price were much influenced by
the supposed market price mentioned in the valuation.
The value of the property had been calculated through the
rental income the property was said to yield. The valuation also mentioned some construction work that had been
left incomplete on the property at the time of purchase.
A. K., the former owner of the said property had the
property valuated in May 2006 for the purpose of sale.
An incorrect property valuation
is damaging
Put your faith in an incorrect property valuation and you’ll fall into one of three traps:
Trap #1
Underselling your house & losing out on
$1,000’s
Trap #2
Overpricing your house - not attracting any
buyers - missing the chance to buy your
preferred new home
Trap #3
Being taken advantage of by unscrupulous
Agents
E. W.’s disappointment came when he realized that the rental income from the property was much lower than stated
in the valuation report, and some construction work never had been completed. It seemed that the valuation company had not inspected the property as professional ethics
would have required. Many deficiencies had not been discovered and many details on which the value of the property was
based on were recorded wrongly. As such, the
property had been overvalued by the valuator.
W. had put his trust in the valuation of a registered company to
provide him with a professional opinion but they let him down.
W. therefore approached the Consumer Council to negotiate
with the valuation company to look into the matter. The Council
brought the two parties to the mediation table for discussions.
Incomplete construction work that was not considered in
Kumar’s valuation report. Weber
had seen to its
completion.
valuator to provide him with a professional
It is important to note in this case that the valuation company opinion so that he could act accordingly in
had not charged W. for the property valuation. Hence, it was an informed manner. Weber had lost more
not an issue of taking money but not rendering proper services.
than $100,000 for the incorrect valuation.
Rather, it was an issue of a property owner placing his trust in the
Consumer Council of Fiji
Newsletter 2007
7
Consumer Alert
Zero VAT on Basic Food
Items And Kerosene
Do not
re-use
mineral
water bottles!
Many are unaware of
poisioning caused by reusing plastic
bottles.
Some of you maybe in the habits of
using and reusing your disposable
bottles (soft drinks or water), Keeping
them in your car or at work. Not a good
idea.
It happened in Dubai, when a 12year
old girl died after a long
usage(16months)of SAFA minerals water
bottle,as she used to carry the same
fancy(painted by herself) bottled to her
school daily.
In a nutshell, the plastic
(called polyethylene terephthalate or
PET) used in these bootles contains a potentially carcinogenic element(something
called diethylydroxylamine or DEHA).
The bottles are safe for one-time use
only; if you must keep them longer, it
should be one or no more thaan a few
days, week max, and keep them away
from heat as well. Repeated washing and
rinsing can cause the plastic to break
down and the carcinogens (cancercausing chemical agents) can
leak into the water that YOU are
drinking. Better to invest in water bottles
that are really meant for multiple uses.
This is not something we should be
scrimping on. Those of you with familydo please advise them, especially children. Please forward this information.
Prevention is better than cure.
Consumers are advised that the following food items and kerosene have zero-rated vat with effect from 01 January, 2006 .
Milk: All types of powdered milk including infant formula.
Tea: Unfermented green tea and fermented black tea
including tea bags.
Flour/ Sharp: Any type of plain flour/ sharp derived from
wheat/ meslin.
Rice: Rice in the husk, brown rice, semi milled/ wholly
milled and broken rice.
M
Edible oils:
• Crude or refined oils derived from Soya bean, Palm,
Sun flower, Cotton seed, Canola, Linseed, Corn, Sesame,
• Ground nut,
• Virgin, refined olive oil,
• Animal/ Vegetable fats and oils;
• Solid and liquid margarine;
• Imitation lard, shortenings;
• Any other oil preparation derived from animal and vegetable fats (e.g. vanaspati)
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Prepared of preserved fish:
• Any type of canned fish ( salmon, herrings, sardines,
tuna, mackerel and anchovies) ;
• Fish processed/ preserved through cooking or baking
and is ready for consumption;
• Caviar and caviar substitutes
to
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Kerosene: For House hold use only
Further information can be obtained from the Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority website: www.
frca.org.fj or the office of the Prices and Incomes Board.
About the Consumer Council
The Consumer Council of Fiji (CCF) is a statutory body established under the Consumer Council
of Fiji Act -1976 (Cap 235). The Council provides the external pressure as a watchdog to create a fair
and just delivery of goods and services. It represents and protects the rights and interests of consumers
and in particular the disadvantaged groups, rural poor and women by identifying and articulating the
policy issues that are of importance to the consumers. First and foremost the Consumer Council is an
advocacy organisation, conducting rigorous research and policy analysis on key consumer issues. CCF’s
insight into consumer need is a powerful tool for influencing decision-makers to bring about change.
DEMAND YOUR RIGHTS SAY NO TO SUBSTANDARD-ADULTEREATED-COUNTERFEIT PRODUCTS
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Consumer Council of Fiji
Newsletter 2007
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Food & Product Labelling
Food – What do ‘use by’ and ‘best before’
mean?
first.
Things to remember
‘best before’ date dive you an idea of how
Packed foods whether in box, wrapper or bottle usually have a •
long
foods
will last be they lose quality.
‘use-by’ or ‘best before’ date stamped on them. This date gives
•
most products will last beyond their ‘best
you an idea on how long the food will last
before’ date if they are stored properly.
before it lose quality. A product will remain
•
foods marked with a use-by date must be
fresh and of good quality right up to the ‘best
consumed before that date.
before’ date (and sometimes beyond) if it is
properly stored, both at home and supermarket.
Council wants Egg Cartons Properly Labeled
It may still be safe to eat those foods after the
The Consumer Council of Fiji wants the egg
‘best before’date, but they may have lost the
cartons supplied and sold in Fiji better labeled
quality and some nutritional value. Foods
with a ‘best before date.’ An increasing numthat should not be consumed after a certain
ber of consumers have complained of rotten
date for health and safety reasons, such as milk, soft cheese
eggs in their cartons on the day of purchase.
and ready prepared salads usually have ‘best before’ date.
Although there are recipes that require eggs to
be at or near room temperature, eggs should not
Manufactures err on the side of caution
Manufactures usually choose a ‘best before’ date before the be kept away from refrigeration for more than two
time when the food would be expected to deteriorate and spoil. hours. Many refrigerators provide special storage
A conservative ‘best before’ date is designed to encourage you for eggs in the door, but it is not an advisable place
to eat the, product while it is fresh and its best, so you should for storing because the temperature fluctuates in
consider ‘best before’ dates a guide only. Frozen and canned the door when it is opened and closed. Eggs keep
products, in particular, tend to keep their quality for some- best when they are stored at temperatures of no
time after the ‘best before’ date has expired. Within reasons, higher than 40°F. The ideal temperature range is
provided the foods looks and smells as you would expect ,it 33°F to 38°F. When the temperature is above 40°F,
should be safe to eat ,even if the’ best before’ date has passed. harmful bacteria may grow rapidly. Although salmonella are not destroyed in temperatures below
Foods need proper storage
40°F, any of the bacteria that may be present will
Whether or not a product keeps fresh and edible right up not multiply when the temperature is below 40°F.
to the use-by or ‘best before’ date depends hoe it is stored. The Council is concerned that many supermarMany foods need to be kept at certain temperatures, either kets and stores in Fiji shelve egg cartons at room
in fridge or freezer. For instances, fresh milk needs to be re- temperature, which affect the quality of eggs. In
frigerated. If a carton of milk is left out on kitchen bench, addition, given Fiji’s tropical weather and the fact
it will quickly sour, regardless of its ‘best before’ date. that most supermarkets and stores do not have
air conditioning, the quality of eggs is affected.
Check the packing
It is difficult for a consumer to identify rotten
Foods can become spoiled well before their use-by or ‘best
eggs in a carton because the shells are still in good
before’ date, either because their packing has been damaged or
form. Therefore, the ‘best before date’ on the carthey weren’t stored properly at the supermarket. When buying
foods, checks for dents, leaks and tears in the packing. If you ton would give consumers some information when
can see any sign of damage, don’t buy the product, as it might buying eggs. The Ministry of Health as the regbe contaminated with bacteria. Many products, such as dairy ulator of the Pure Foods Act and the largest egg
foods, need to be kept at low temperature to avoid spoilage. supplier in the country, Ram Sami & Sons LimDon’t buy any food that need to be chilled of frozen if they still ited could perhaps act to better label egg cartons.
sitting on unrefrigerated shelves, or stacked in over filled fridge.
Collect cold and frozen food last
When shopping, collect your cold and frozen foods last
of all. These foods could spoil before their ‘best before’ if
they are allowed to get warm. It is
often bets to kip them in a cooler bag
while traveling homes. As soon as
you arrive home with your groceries,
put away our cold and frozen foods
Consumer Council of Fiji
Newsletter 2007
9
Consumer Advice
Internet Scams
Recognise them and
Protect Yourself
Email and the Internet is
a wonderful resource that
has revolutionized the way
humans communicate and
access information. Unfortunately, it has also proven
to be a fertile medium for
the unscrupulous and the morally challenged. Scammers regularly use email in attempts to
steal money or personal information from unsuspecting victims.
Those inexperienced in the ways
of the Internet are especially
vulnerable to these scammers.
The good news is that it is not
difficult to learn how to recognise scam attempts that arrive
via email. Included below are
descriptions of three of the most
common types of email driven
scams as well as some general indicators that should help
you recognize scam emails.
Nigerian Scams:
You may receive an email/letter/fax that asks for your help
to access a large sum of money in a foreign bank account.
The message says that you will
get a percentage of the funds
in exchange for your help.
In all probability, the message is
an example of the type of scam
known as a Nigerian or “419”
scam. The “large sum of money”
does not exist. The messages are an
opening gambit designed to draw potential victims deeper
into the scam. Those
who initiate a dialogue
with the scammers by
replying to the scam
messages will eventually be asked for
advance fees supposedly required to allow the deal to proceed. They may
also become the victims of identity
theft. The scammers use a variety of
stories to explain why they need your
help to access the funds. For example:
they may claim that political climate
or legal issues preclude them from accessing funds in a foreign bank account.
they may claim that your last name is
the same as that of the deceased person
who owned the account and suggest that
you act as the Next of Kin of this person in order to gain access to the funds.
they may claim that a rich merchant, who has a terminal illness, needs your help to distribute his or her wealth to charity.
If you receive one of these scam emails,
it is important that you do not respond
to it in any way. The scammers are
likely to act upon any response from
those they see as potential victims.
Lottery Scams:
You may receive an email/letter/fax
that claims that you have won a great
deal of money in an international lottery
even though you have never bought a
ticket. The email may claim that your
email address was randomly chosen
out of a large pool of addresses as a
“winning entry”. Such emails
are almost certainly fraudulent.
There is no lottery and no
prize. Those who initiate a dialogue with the scammers by
replying to the messages will
be first asked to provide a great
deal of personal information.
Eventually, they will be asked
to send money, ostensibly to
cover expenses associated
with delivery of the supposed
“winnings”. They may also
become the victims of identity theft. DO NOT respond to
these messages. DO NOT supply any personal information
what so ever to the scammers.
General Scam Indicators:
The scams described above
are some of the most common types of Internet fraud.
However, these fraudsters are
clever people who may use
many variations of the above
scams to achieve their nefarious ends. In general, be wary
of unsolicited emails that:
� Promise you money, jobs
or prizes
� Ask for donations
� Propose lucrative business deals
� Ask you to provide sensitive personal information
� Ask you to follow a link
to a website and log on to an
account.
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10
Consumer Council of Fiji
Newsletter 2007
ails
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no
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Consumer & The Law
Credit: Are you getting a
Fair Deal for it?
What do you understand by the term credit?
If you buy goods, services or land
now and pay a charge for them
later, then you are being provided
with credit. You may have borrowed money from a bank, paid
for the goods on a credit card,
used hire purchase or simply
owe money to a business. If you
pay a business for credit and use
it mainly for personal use or domestic purposes, the Consumer
Credit Act 1999 will concern you.
How will the Act benefit you?
The Consumer Credit Act was
made effective on 7 May 1999.
The Act requires credit information be presented in a clear
and easy to understand format.
Credit providers such as banks,
credit unions, finance companies
and businesses, must tell you
what your rights and obligations
are in any sort of credit arrangement. They are now required
by law to fully disclose all relevant information about your arrangement in a written contract,
including interest rates, fees,
commissions and other information which in the past was often hidden from the consumers.
Examples of credit covered
Personal loans
Credit cards
Overdrafts
Housing loans
Mortgages
Consumer leases
Hire purchase agreements
Guarantees
Continuing credit accounts
Examples of credit not covered
Credit provided for less than
62 days
Credit where no interest is
paid
Goods leased for less than four
months
Employee loans
Insurance premiums paid by installment
Bills of exchange or promissory
notes
Investment for business purposes
Pawnbrokers
Trustees of estates
After the credit contract is made
You are still protected by the Act after
you sign the credit contract. Credit providers are required to give you regular account statements that include:
all fees and charges
details of each amount of credit provided and your repayments during the
statement period
any transfer to and from other accounts maintained for the purposes of
the credit contract
the name of the supplier in any
credit-card purchases
interest charges, including when they
were charged
the annual percentage rate, including
any changes during the statement period
the opening and closing balances of
the statement period
the dates on which the statement
period begins and ends
the minimum payment owed and the
due date for that payment
insurance payments made, including
the name of the insurer and any commission paid
any corrections to previous accounts
Note that credit providers are not required to send account statements if your
contract only provides for fixed rates and
payments or if you have no outstanding debt and your account hasn’t been
accessed during the statement period.
Problems:
What if the credit provider wants to
change the contract?
Your credit provider can only change
the contract if there is a provision in
the contract for specific changes. If
your credit provider wants to increase
Consumer Council of Fiji
the amount, frequency or calculation of repayments they must
give you 30 days written notice.
however does not include interest
rates which only require notification up to the day of the change.
What if I am admitted in hospital or
lose my job?
If you are unable to make repayments due to temporary hardship,
such as illness or unemployment,
you are obliged to first talk to your
credit provider and try to come
to some sort of written arrangement so as to repay your debt. A
court can also order changes to
a contract if it considers it is unjust. This does not mean that your
debt will be reduced or cancelled.
What if the credit provider charges
too much?
When you sign your credit, lease
or contracts, you are agreeing to
the fees and charges listed in the
Precontractual Statement. So it is
important that you understand the
fees and charges included in the
contract. The Act allows the court to
consider whether certain fees and
charges are unreasonable or unjust.
Newsletter 2007
11
Consumer & The Law
however does not include interest rates which only
require notification up to the day of the change.
What if I am admitted in hospital or lose my job?
If you are unable to make repayments due to temporary hardship, such as illness or unemployment, you
are obliged to first talk to your credit provider and
try to come to some sort of written arrangement so
as to repay your debt. A court can also order changes
to a contract if it considers it is unjust. This does not
mean that your debt will be reduced or cancelled.
What if the credit provider charges too much?
When you sign your credit, lease or contracts, you
are agreeing to the fees and charges listed in the Precontractual Statement. So it is important that you
understand the fees and charges included in the contract. The Act allows the court to consider whether
certain fees and charges are unreasonable or unjust.
Who should I see if I think the Act is being
breached?
If you have any dispute with your credit provider
or feel one of the requirements under the Act has
been broken, you can contact the Department of
Fair Trading for advice on what action you can take.
What if I’m late in repaying and the credit provider
threatens legal action?
If you find yourself in trouble, do not ignore the notices or warnings sent to you by your credit provider
or lessor. Under the Act, you must be given 30 days
warning, 21 days for hire purchase before they can
enforce their rights under the contract. This gives you
time to meet your repayments and talk about possibilities of other arrangements to repay your debt.
What happens if the credit provider takes back the
goods?
Before a credit provider or lessor can repossess
or take back goods, they have to give you 30 days
written notice and, in some circumstances, obtain a court order. Remember, if your goods are
repossessed and sold, your debt may not be cancelled. If you have been notified of repossession
and are not sure where you stand, you should contact the Department of Fair Trading for advise.
If you find you cannot work things out, you should contact
the Department of Fair Trading office for further information or mediation services on telephone: (679) 3305411 or
you can visit the office at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Naibati house, 9 Goodenough Street, Suva. A copy
of the Consumer Credit Act 1999 can be obtained from
the Government Printer by contacting on (679) 3385999.
Council Proposes for a Consumer Tribunal
The Consumer Council is experiencing a significant
increase in consumer grievances since 2001. The largest
number of consumer complaints recorded are on utilities,
groceries, clothing and footwear, white goods, public transportation, warranties/ guarantees, poor back up service and
hire purchase. The number of cases referred to the Small
Claims Tribunal by the Council has risen as well.. However, many consumers expressed significant frustration at the
non- availability of an accessible and simple mechanism
for remedy. Small Claims Tribunal requirements have been
regarded by many consumers as unsatisfactory because the
monetary jurisdiction placed by the Small Claims Tribunal
is restricted to $2, 000 at a cost of $5.62VIP paid in fees.
If the dispute involves over $2,000 then consumers have
no simpler alternative mechanism but to proceed through
the Court System. Magistrates Court proceedings are not
only costly, but also involve significant delays that clogs
up the system. It must be noted that it takes more than 44
months for a civil case to go through the court system.
The Independent Review of the Consumer Council
in November 2006 suggested that a Consumer Tribunal, empowered to handle all consumer grievances, may
be the ideal way to provide remedies to consumers. The
Review recommended that the Council should carry out
a feasibility study of the proposed Consumer Tribunal
to establish its institutional, legal and financial viability.
The proposed Consumer Tribunal is intended to be a
simple alternative consumer dispute resolution mechanism. It would provide a forum where consumers could
obtain quick, informal and inexpensive redress against
traders and service providers. It is a mechanism through
which consumers would be able to avoid the lengthy
processed of the traditional adversarial legal system at
the lowest possible cost and with the greatest degree of
speed and fairness. The Tribunal can deal with claims of
What happens if the credit provider takes back the
up to $15, 000. The cost of taking a claim could range
goods?
from $20 to $500, depending on the amount claimed.
It is advisable that before taking out a contract This limit can be determined by the feasibility study.
with another person, you should make written arrangements about what is to happen if you have
The Consumer Tribunal will have a positive impact partica falling out. If you are going to be a guarantor for ularly on under privileged consumers who cannot afford legal
somebody, remember that you will be responsi- representation and it will put less pressure on our Court system.
ble for that person’s debt if they decide not to pay.
Consumer Council of Fiji
Newsletter 2007
7
Global Outlook
SNEAK PEEK
Save on Eyedrops
If your eyedrop prescription says one or two
drops, experts say just one generally does
the job fine, as
a single drop on
average
contains at least as
much liquid as
a normal eye can
hold. Good advice from the US
Consumer Reports on Health
that can help you halve your costs.
UNBLOCKING
DRAINS
Caustic soda is more effective at unblocking
drains than most “newfangled” chemical cocktails, our sister organization in the UK found
when it tested drain unblockers. In fact, some
of the new, alternative products is tested
were less effective than a kettle of hot water. So try a plunger first to unblock a drain,
Which? advises, and if that doesn’t work,
use hot water before you resort to chemicals.
CHOICE, June 2007
Cola Drinks May Raise Risk of Brittle Bones
Young women should be aware of the possible
dangers of cola and caffeine containing carbonated beverages and the long term risks to
their bone health. Osteoporosis is a significant
health issue, especially for women who have
a 40 percent lifetime risk of developing an osteoporosis fracture, reports
Choice Health Reader.
Osteoporosis is a significant health risk for men
too although their lifetime
risk factor is 13 per cent.
Drinking carbonated beverages has been suggested
to be linked to osteoporosis risk in women, not only because they then
tend to drink less milk, but also because carbonated beverages contain high fructose corn
syrup, phosphoric acid and potentially caffeine
which all interfere with calcium absorption.
Insight: The Consumer Magazine, March-April 2007
AROUND THE WORLD
The Consumer Wheel
The Consumer Wheel is the quarterly newsletter of the
Consumer Council of Fiji. It is aimed at creating awareness about consumer issues and educating consumers.
The Consumer Wheel logo is a steering wheel featuring
eight inner spokes and five handle bars. The unbroken circles of the wheel represent consumer solidarity. The eight
inner spokes are the universally recognized eight basic consumer rights to satisfaction of basic needs; safety; information; choice; representation; redress; consumer education and
healthy environment. The five handle bars represent the five
consumer responsibilities: critical awareness; consumer action; social concern; environmental awareness and solidarity.
The Consumer Wheel welcomes consumer comments and
other literally contributions. The editor reserves the right to
edit contributions for legal, space or other reasonable reasons.
Articles may be reproduced only for non-profit purposes and due acknowledgement be given to cited sources.
For inquiries contact:
Manager
Consumer Education, Information & Awareness Division
Private Mail Bag
Suva.
Phone: 3300792 or 3305748
email: [email protected]
Difficult Youngsters Are
Born Difficult
It’s in their DNA.
A study has found that behavioural problems
are imprinted in
a child’s DNA.
The
findings
overturn conventional thinking on
the naturte verses
nurture
debate.
They
conclude
that
naughty
youngsters aren’t simply copying behaviour they may have
been subjected to at home.
Instead, traits such as bullyings, lying,or being argumentative could be passed on the
genes. The research, from the
Consumer Council of Fiji
Newsletter 2007
University of Virginia, indicates that some children
would be badly behaved,
no matter how loving and
caring an environment they grow
up in. Behavioural
trends are inherited
in the same way as
eye and hair colour,
say the researchers.
In a previous research scientist from
the National Institute of Health in Washington indentified at least four
genes which make their carriers predisposed to criminal activity. They are the
original mischief mongers.
Insight : The consumer Magazine,
March-April,2007
13
Fijian Article
Nai tuvatuva, kena vakayagataki kei na vakabula i lavo
E levu vei keda e vaka me dua na ka dredrena
noda saga meda vakabula ilavo ka vakavuna
me da sa gulecava na noda vakatovolea. E
dina ni na sotavi kina na dredre ia e dodonu
me da vakaitavitaki keda kece kina kevaka
eda vinakata me da rawati keda vakai keda.
Na vakabula ilavo ena rawa ni da tauyavutaka kina e dua na noda bisinisi, e rawa ni da
biuta na nodai lavo ena so na vanua ni vakatubu ilavo, e rawa ni da volia kina vakataki
keda e dua na noda vale, dua na noda motoka
ka vakakina ena noda rawa ni na walia eso
na leqa tubu koso e curu takosovi keda mai.
Na noda dikeva ka virikotora na nodai tuvatuva vakailavo ena vukei keda me rawa ni
da na vakabula eso nai lavo ka vidavida na
nodai lavo me kakua ni da sotava na leqa. Vei
keda eda nanuma me tiko sara vei keda e levu
nai lavo ka meda qai tuva na nodai tuvatuva
vakailavo, kevaka eda sega ni vakayacora
rawa yani ena ilavo lailai sara eda rawata
tiko, ena yaco na gauna mena sega sara ga
kina vakadua vei keda nai lavo. Oqo e vica
nai vakasala ena rawa ni na vukei keda me
rawa kina ni da na vakabula eso nai lavo:•
Vola ena dua na tiki ni pepa nai
lavo ni nomu veisaumi/nai lavo o rawata.
•
Vola kece na veika kece e dodonu me
voli kei na sausaumi ena tiki ni pepa vata ga oya.
•
Soqona vata nai lavo o via vakabula,
nai lavo ni nomu volivoli kei na sausaumi.
•
Musuka
mai
nai
lavo
ni
nomu veisaumi se nai lavo o rawata.
•
Vakayacora tiko na veika e koto
oqori e cake ena loma ni tolu na vula.
Kevaka o raica ni levu nai lavo o na vakayagataka ka lailai na veika o rawata tiko mai kua
ni ko yalo lailai. E na rawa ni ko vakasamataka ka torogi iko ena so na taro me vaka oqo:�
Na veika eso e volai tu
me voli – e yaga dina me voli?
�
Na sausaumi e volai tu e dodonu me
ra saumi taucoko ena loma ni dua na vula?
�
Kevaka e nomu sau ni taro na sega,
14
e na rawa ni ko tarogi iko tale
ena rawa ni ko na sauma na sausaumi qo ena dua tale na gauna?
Kevaka eda dikeva na noda bula
vakailavo, eda raica ni da vesuki
tu ena dredre ni bula ni dinau, e
dodonu meda raica na veika eso eda
dau malele kina se na noda digidigi.
Kevaka o saga mo sauma kece na
nomu dinau ka o sega ni rawa ni
ceguva rawa ka ni sa rui sivia, curuma e dua nai soqosoqo ni dinau
se na ‘credit union’ ka kere dinau
me rawa ni na sauma kina na nomu
dinau era tu ena veivanua tale eso
ka veivosakitaka na nomu sausaumi
ena veivula. Virikotora na nomui
tuvatuva vakailavo ka vakamuria.
Oqo eso nai vakasala ena rawa ni na
vukei iko ena nomu saga me vakalailaitaki nai sau ni veika o na volia
ka rawa ni ko vakabulai lavo kina.
�
Virikotora na nomui tuvatuva vakailavo ka vakamuria
�
Vola na veika o laki volia ni bera ni ko gole ivolivoli.
�
Tarogi iko ena so na ka
o volia – e yaga dina mai vale ka
tiko ena nomui tuvatuva vakailavo
ni dua na macawa se dua na vula.
�
Volivoli
vakaumauma ka vakayagataka na veitikidua vakarautaki ‘coupons’.
�
Sikova wavoki na veisitoa me rawa ni ko veidutaitaka nai
sau ni yaya ni bera ni ko volivoli.
�
Vakayagataka
vakavinaka na vei lutu sobu ka volia
ga na veika e dodonu me voli.
�
Kauta ki vale ni cakacaka na vakasigalevu mai vale.
�
Volia nai sulu o kila ni rawa
ni ko daramaka vata kei na so tale
na kala ni sulu. Me vaka vei keda na
marama na liku loaloa
– e rawa ni daramaki
vata kei na kena kote
kala cava ga o rawa
ni daramaka vata.
� Maninitaka
na
nomu
vakayagataConsumer Council of Fiji
ka na nomu talevoni , ka
vakayagataka na telecard
kevaka o qiri vaka yawa.
�Vakayagataka ga na veiqaravi raraba e vakarautaka
na talevoni dabe - ‘landline’. Kevaka o gadreva
e so tale na veiqaravi tale
eso ena vakayagataki kina
ena kania e levu nai lavo.
� Kakua ni vakabera na
nomu sausaumi ena vakavuna me rawa ni taqa tale
e cake nai totogi vakailavo
me baleta na kena bera.
� Kakua ni kerea mai eso nai
lavo ‘loan’ ka vakayagataki
ena so na ka e sega ni yaga
� Maninitaka na nomu
vakayagataki livaliva ka
vakayagataka na mata
ni cina o koya e sega ni
kania e levu na livaliva.
Porokaramu ena Tabana
Vakaviti
i) Bula 102 – Mataka ni
Lotulevu ena 9.15
ii) Radio Fiji One – Otioti ni macawa ni veivula,
Mataka ni siga Vakaraubuka
ena 9.30
iii)Takitaki vakamacawa
- Volasiga ena siga Tusiti
- Lalakai ena siga Vakaraubuka
iv)Veisiteseni tale eso
– Ena vakatau ena nodratou
dui veisureti kei na veiulutaga eso eratou vinakata me
veitalanoataki.
Newsletter 2007
Hindi Article
Consumer Council of Fiji
Newsletter 2007
15

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