The 21st century has brought with it, several intuitive and innovative ways of performing various actions. For the kind of ‘actions’ we have in mind this week, we can pay bills, make funds transfer, sell products, check the status of our bank accounts, make purchases for goods and so much more from the comfort of almost any keypad. But if you’ve used online services for effecting transactions long enough, you’d agree with me that it is not always that straight forward. But when the chips are down, how do we get them back up – in the manner of speaking?
To put a word on the various online ways of carrying out transactions as described above, “e-commerce” comes to mind. The concept has become synonymous with the buying and selling of products and services over electronic systems such as the internet and other computer networks. In recent times, there has been an increased level of activity in this area. Online retail merchants here in Nigeria have engaged in aggressive social media campaigns urging users to like or follow their brands with the ultimate aim of buying goods from their online shops. Common examples today include Jumia and Konga, These merchants are known to deal in brand new products. But there’s more.
In what is becoming rampant nowadays, classifieds websites allow users to post ads free on their platforms. You can virtually sell anything from a simple USB modem to a car. These websites which include Google Trader, OLX, Tradestable etc., act somewhat like a virtual meeting place for persons seeking either new or second-handed products.
In all of these, the consumer wants to ensure that he gets value for money, quality control on goods and services purchased and so on. Customer satisfaction is the watchword here. The body responsible for this in Nigeria is the Consumer Protection Council established under the Consumer Protection Council Act. The question we want to be asking ourselves is this: Is the Act able to effectively regulate these nuances in our online economic dealings or do we look for another? It is submitted here that the functions and powers of the council as contained in sections 2 and 3 of the Act reveal a serious lacuna in the light of the economic realities discussed above.
The analysis? Join me again next week as we take this discussion even further.