Saavy consumers may be increasingly aware of internet scams and phony salesman but even the savviest will find it hard to push back against a pushy salesman who shows up at your door.
One of the more common ‘sales schemes’ now in Kuwait is home service where salesmen bring products to your home to ‘test’ and then buy. Some of the products being sold in Kuwait in this way are vacuum cleaners, knife sets and cookware among other household items.
Distributing companies often employ cold calling to target would be customers. Salemen make appointments to come to the customer’s home to give a demonstration. These aren’t necessarily scams but the pushy sales tactics of the salesmen often make customers feel pressured. The promoter doesn’t give customers time to think and quickly convinces them to sign a contract and a debt approval form. The customer is later unable to change their mind, even if they don’t use the product.
According to the consumer protection department of the ministry of commerce, if an electronic product has been removed from its carton, the customer does not have the right to return it.
“If the product was taken out of its box, it can be exchanged with a new one only in case of a manufacturing defect. This should be done within 14 days – after this period, it should be repaired by the company free of charge, unless it cannot be fixed,” an inspector told Kuwait Times.
If the customer signs a contract for paying in installments, then they are committed to this contract. “The consumer protection department won’t be able to help the customer, as they are bonded to a legal contract. If the customer paid cash, the same conditions mentioned above will apply.
But if the customer feels cheated, they can always visit our department and we will discuss the problem with them,” added the inspector.
Attorney Mohammed Al-Otaibi explained that the debt approval form is illegal and has no power. “If the customer signed a contract for paying in installments, then they are bound to the contract. However, the customer can still withdraw from the contract, but will lose the down payment and whatever amount they have already paid,” he explained. “The customer can complain or file a case if signing the form resulted in a travel ban, arrest order, or other sanctions for nonpayment. Regarding the salesperson entering the house, this is legal since the customer allowed them to enter,” Otaibi added.
There are other kinds of sales where the salesmen are pushy and may be selling something fake. “Most timeshare companies are scamming people with fake promises and illegal contracts. People have lost thousands of dinars in such deals and didn’t get anything that was included in the contract. Even I once went to a presentation promoting timeshares, and they tried to make me sign a contract. When I insisted to take the contract home to read it carefully and completely, they refused. So I left,” he said.
The inspector at the consumer protection department spoke about other things that a customer may not know when they purchase various goods. “Most goods can be refunded or exchanged even if the store mentions that it’s not possible, for instance during sale periods. But there is a special return window for some items, such as evening dresses, which can only be returned on the same day. Undergarments can’t be exchanged for any reason,” he noted.
By Nawara Fattahova