The purpose of this article is to explain consumer rights in Nigeria under the Nigerian Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2018. The article also discusses the enforcement of consumer rights under the Act.
Who is a consumer in Nigeria?
A consumer is a person who is the end-user of a product. Vendors in the market sometimes take advantage of the naivety of the consumers and do not maintain certain standards when dealing with consumers. As a consumer, it is quite important to be aware of your rights when dealing with a vendor.
The main statute regulating consumer rights in Nigeria is the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2018 (FCCPA)
The objectives of this FCCPA 2018 are to:
- Promote and maintain competitive markets in the Nigerian economy.
- Promote economic efficiency.
- Protect and promote the interests and welfare of consumers by providing consumers with wider variety of quality products at competitive prices.
- Prohibit restrictive or unfair business practices which prevent, restrict or distort competition or constitute an abuse of a dominant position of market power in Nigeria.
- Contribute to the sustainable development of the Nigerian economy.1Federal Competion and Consumer Protection Act 2018 s 1.
Scope of the FCCPA 2018
The FCCPA 2018 is applicable for all commercial activity within Nigeria or having an effect in Nigeria.2FCCPA 2018 s 2(1). The Act also applies to conduct outside Nigeria by a Nigerian citizen or a person ordinarily resident in Nigeria.3FCCPA 2018 s 2(3).
The FCCPA 2018 established the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. The Commission is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the provisions of the FCCPA 2018 and any other enactment with respect to competition and protection of consumers in Nigeria.4FCCPA 2018 s 17(a).
The general standard of marketing goods and services for producers is provided under section 123 of the FCCPA 2018.
Rights of a consumer in Nigeria under the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2018
Note that the FCCPA 2018 uses the word ‘undertaking‘ frequently. Undertaking simple means any unitary organisation engaged in economic activity. Examples include individual persons (e.g. sellers or vendors) and corporate entities (e.g. companies).
The rights of a consumer under the Nigerian FCCPA 2018 include:
Consumer’s right to information in plain language
The Act requires a producer to make a virtual representation of the goods or services offered in a clear language that is direct and unambiguous. The producer is allowed to used illustrations or headings to give examples on the visual representations.5FCCPA 2018 s 114.
Right to disclosure of goods and service prices
When a vendor is displaying the goods for sale, the price of the goods should also be adequately displayed. According to section 115 (2) of FCCPA 2018, price is adequately displayed when the currency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is displayed in writing, stamps, or annexed to the goods or covering of the goods or services.
Labelling products and trade description
It is unlawful for an undertaking to knowingly apply to goods a trade description that is likely to mislead consumers in regard to any matter implied or expressed in the trade description or alter, deface, cover, remove or obscure a trade description or trademark applied to any goods in a way calculated to mislead consumers.6FCCPA 2018 s 116.
Disclosure of reconditioned or second-hand goods
An undertaking that offers or agrees to supply used or refurbished goods must attach a conspicuous notice stating the condition of the goods. For instance, if the goods have been rebuilt or reconditioned, a clear notice should be attached saying so.7FCCPA 2018 s 117.
By virtue of section 118 of the FCCPA 2018, an undertaking should provide a written record of each transaction to a consumer except where it is impracticable to do so. An example of such a written record is a receipt of purchase or an invoice.
The sales record should include details such as the vendor’s name or registered business name, address, the date of transaction, description or name of goods sold, the unit price and quantity and total price before tax, amount of tax and total price including taxes.
Consumer’s right to select a supplier
An undertaking shall not require, as a condition of offering to supply or supplying any goods or services, or as a condition of entering into an agreement or transaction, that a consumer shall buy any goods or services from that undertaking or a third party unless the vendor can demonstrate that such condition would be of convenience or benefit to the customer.8FCCPA 2018 s 119. One of the purposes of forbidding such conditions is to prevent anti-competitive agreements and conducts.
Right to cancel an advance reservation booking of order
A consumer has the right to cancel any advance booking reservation or order for any goods or services, subject to a reasonable cancellation fee of the order or reservation by the supplier or service provider.9FCCPA 2018 s 20.
Right of consumers to choose or examine goods
Where goods are displayed openly by a supplier, the consumer has the right to choose and reject any item displayed before the transaction is completed.
Where a consumer has agreed to purchase goods solely on the basis of a description or sample, or both provided by a supplier, the goods delivered to the consumer should in all material respects and characteristics, correspond to what an ordinary alert consumer would have been entitled to expect based on the description, or on a reasonable examination of the sample.
A consumer isn’t liable for damage of goods displayed by the supplier except the goods were damaged by the consumer’s action which amounts to gross negligence, recklessness, malicious behaviour or criminal conduct.10FCCPA 2018 s 121.
Consumer’s right to return goods
The right to return goods is one of the most useful consumer rights in Nigeria and it is also a right that many consumers are not aware of. A consumer has the right to return delivered goods within a reasonable time if the goods are incapable of being used for the required purpose for which they were bought. By virtue of section 122(1)(a) of FCCPA 2018, such required purpose must have been communicated to the supplier.
A consumer also has the right to return goods that do not correspond with description, sample or the type and quality reasonably contemplated in the sales agreement.11FPPCA 2018 122(1)(b).
Right to fair dealings
It is unlawful for an undertaking or its representative to apply physical force or harass a customer or a potential consumer when goods are being marketed, supplied or negotiated. This also applies when an undertaking is demanding payment from a consumer.
It is unlawful for an undertaking or its representative to knowingly take advantage of a potential consumer’s ‘mental disability, illiteracy, ignorance, inability to understand the language of an agreement, or any other similar factor’.12FCCPA 2018 s 124.
False or deceptive misrepresentation
It is unlawful for an undertaking or its representative to either directly or indirectly by words or conduct mislead a consumer as to the representation of material facts in respect of goods or services.13FCCPA 2018 s 125.
Right pertaining to quality of goods and services
When a vendor is performing a service or installing goods the customer has a right to receive quality goods or services. If the undertaking fails to render quality service or uses goods with defects, the consumer has the right to demand a remedy or a refund.14FCCPA 2018 s 130.
Consumer Right to safe and quality goods
Every consumer has the right to receive goods that are suitable and durable.15FCCPA 2018 s 131.
Enforcement of consumer rights under the FCCPA 2018
By virtue of section 146 of the FCCPA 2018, a consumer can enforce his/her rights in a transaction or agreement in the following ways:
- By referring the matter directly to the undertaking that supplied the goods or services.
- The consumer can refer the matter to the applicable industry regulatory body within the jurisdiction if the undertaking is subject to the jurisdiction of the regulator.
- A complaint can be filed directly with the Commission. However, A distressed consumer notwithstanding can directly approach a court within appropriate jurisdiction to seek redress.
- 1Federal Competion and Consumer Protection Act 2018 s 1
- 2FCCPA 2018 s 2(1).
- 3FCCPA 2018 s 2(3).
- 4FCCPA 2018 s 17(a).
- 5FCCPA 2018 s 114.
- 6FCCPA 2018 s 116.
- 7FCCPA 2018 s 117.
- 8FCCPA 2018 s 119.
- 9FCCPA 2018 s 20.
- 10FCCPA 2018 s 121.
- 11FPPCA 2018 122(1)(b).
- 12FCCPA 2018 s 124.
- 13FCCPA 2018 s 125.
- 14FCCPA 2018 s 130.
- 15FCCPA 2018 s 131.