Eswatini Competition Commission (ESCC) joined the international community in commemorating World Consumer Rights Day at Siteki on Friday.

The celebration was held in the form of a roadshow at the former bus rank opposite Shoprite.

Hundreds of Siteki residents attended the entertaining event which was manned by popular comedians Gogo and Slwane.

ESCC Manager Consumer Protection Linda Dlamini said two roadshows were held at Nhlangano and Buhleni last Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, which culminated to the main commemoration at Siteki.

He said the response at both roadshows was impressive as consumers enquired on how and where they could report when treated unfairly by businesses.

“We shared with the consumers our office contact numbers and physical address where they can report their complaints,” he said.

He said consumers who visited their stand during the roadshows were impressed with the information on their rights.

“What we observed is that many people do not know their rights. It is now that they begin to realize that, for instance, they can be reimbursed if their items become malfunctional while still under warranty,” he said.

Dlamini, who manned the ESCC gazebo with Consumer Protection Officers Nozipho Mamba and Simanga Kunene, also mentioned that the Commission  encouraged competition, ensuring consumer rights and personal data protection.

He said competition provided consumers with a wide range of choices as well as fair and low prices.

He mentioned that it was imperative for consumers to know and understand their rights so that they are not taken advantage of by traders.

He also stated that personal data protection was vital in the advent of artificial intelligence.

The Consumer Protection Manager said when buying goods online consumers were requested to provide details including name, age, preferences and contact details.

“Your details  may then be included in data that is sold to advertisers, who want to market and sell their products,” said Dlamini.

“You will then be contacted by the advertiser asking if you were interested in a certain product, which would be similar to the one you bought when submitting your details. Then you would wonder how they got your contact details and preferences.”

He added: “This shows that your data is often shared with third parties without your permission.”

Dlamini said it was the Commission’s wish to continue with such initiatives and leverage on available partnerships.

“Having our partners also offers consumers a one-stop shop to access all services in one day,” he said. The partners included the Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE), Conciliation, Mediation & Arbitration Commission (CMAC), Eswatini Communications Commission (ECC) and Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA).

Meanwhile, Dlamini told consumers at the Siteki roadshow that they had the right to return goods they were unhappy with to traders from which they bought them.

He said the seller had options to either repair, replace or refund. He described this as the consumers’ right to return.

This year’s theme was “Be Cautious of Your Data Online”.

To lodge complaints, consumers may call the ESCC office at 24040111 or email or visit the Commission’s offices at Mountain View area in Mbabane.