By Annette Chrysostomou
People who want to become volunteer ‘market observers’, consumers who keep and eye out for discrepancies and rip-offs, need to register with the Cyprus consumer association, its Nicosia head, Marios Droushiotis said.
The organisation has announced that it is implementing a new scheme, whereby consumers observe the market and report to the association which has the aim to protect and educate buyers, from Wednesday.
It will be a pilot project in the Nicosia area, which, depending on its success, may be extended to other areas.
By Wednesday afternoon seven people had registered. Consumers, whether they are members of the association or not, need to call and give their names, email and phone numbers so they can be contacted for training.
Those who have declared their interest will be briefed on basic legal and other obligations of sellers.
“There are classes for this purposes which currently take place every Tuesday from 5.30pm to 7pm at the University of Nicosia,” Droushiotis said, adding since this is the beginning of the project, it will be decided later on if the new observers will be trained just once or several times, while it is possible that other days and times for training will be added if there is demand.
Classes are free, and participants need not worry about anonymity.
“Actually, this is the purpose,” Droushiotis stressed. “The consumers come to us and only we know who they are, and they only have to observe, and we have the personnel to deal with the situation.”
There are a number of points which the observers should look out for. One is if there are no prices on products, in supermarkets as well as other shops.
There should also be a unit price, so the buyer can easily compare the selling price of the same amount of a product to another. This should be a value such as how much 100 grammes of a chocolate costs, whether it is sold in bars of 140 grammes or 240 grammes.
Another issue which should be reported is when the buyer is charged twice for a product, or a different price from the one displayed on the product or on the shelf. Consumers are encouraged to check their receipts to find out about such errors.
The price of a product should not be misleading. For example, a supermarket may declare a higher initial price for a discounted item so the discount appears to be larger than it really is.
Sellers also tend to raise prices just before a sale period, again the discounts are distorted.
Some also offer products marked as “while stock lasts” when they are available at all times or they don’t give the two-year warranty required by law.
These are just some of the basics. Those who would like to become members or to know more about the scheme are invited to call the association’s district office of Nicosia at 99-677589, 99-486778 or 99-329546.