Frequently Asked Questions
1. What consumer welfare violations are covered in the Regulations?
Part 5 of the Regulations is dedicated to consumer welfare issues prohibited by law in relation to goods and services sold to consumers. The provisions in the relevant section cover a wide range of prohibitions including false or misleading representation; unconscionable conduct in consumer transactions; unconscionable conduct in business transactions; product safety standards and unsafe goods; product information standards; compulsory product recalls.
2. What is unconscionable conduct?
This involves suppliers of goods and services engaging in conduct which is unjust, unreasonable, and goes against good conscious towards the consumer. Some of the factors considered by the Commission when determining unconscionable conduct includes exploitation by the party in a stronger position taking advantage of the incapacity or disadvantage of the weaker party; forcing a consumer to comply with conditions that are not reasonably necessary for the protection of the suppliers’ interest; and use of undue influence or unfair tactics in relation to the supply of the goods and services.
3. What are the rights of a consumer?
Consumers have the right to:
- Right to basic needs -Consumers have a right to access basic essential goods and services for their well being such as food, shelter, clothing.
- Right to safety -This is the protection of consumers from natural and man-made hazards.
- Right to information -Consumers should have access to full information necessary to make informed decisions.
- Right to choose -Consumers should have a variety of goods and services from which to select based on their preference.
- Right to representation -Consumers should have a say in matters affecting them.
- Right to redress -Consumers’ right to a just resolution in the event of unfair trade practices or consumer abuse.
- Right to consumer education -access to knowledge and skills that will make the consumer informed.
- Right to healthy environment – Consumers deserve to live in a sustainable natural environment that makes it possible to live a dignified life.
4. Who is a consumer?
Pursuant to the COMESA Competition Regulations, a consumer is any person who purchases or offers to purchase goods or services for purposes other than for resale but does not include a person who purchases any goods for the purpose of using them in production or manufacture of any other goods or articles for sale; and any person to whom a service is rendered.
5. How can a consumer complaint be lodged with the Commission?
COMESA Competition Commission
Kang’ombe House, 5th Floor
P.O. Box 30742
Lilongwe 3, Malawi
Tel: +265(0)1 772466
+265 (0) 999 970 269
6. What documents are required when lodging a consumer complaint?
Duly filled complaint form available here. (provide a link to the consumer complaint form)
Evidence of the transaction including copies of contracts, warranty, receipts, invoices, delivery notes and any other relevant documents.
7. What is the difference between the Commission and the national consumer protection authorities in the Member States?
The Commission is a regional body whose mandate on consumer protection covers conduct that affects more than one COMESA Member State. National authorities on the other hand handle complaints which affect their jurisdiction alone. For example, where suppliers distribute unsafe products to two or more countries, such conduct lies within the purview of the Commission.
8. What reliefs are provided for under the COMESA Competition Regulations?
- Ordering the termination or nullification of the conduct.
- Direct the undertaking to cease and desist from the conduct and to take such steps it believes may be necessary to overcome the effects of the conduct.
- Order payment of compensation to persons affected.
- Impose a penalty of up to 10% of the total annual turnover of the concerned undertaking derived from the Common Market.