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Nothing has changed!
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 11 - 03 - 2013

Aneesa Al-Sharif Makki
Nobody cares for quality and substandard goods seem to be the norm in our markets due to the greediness of certain traders. Even if this is part of a global phenomenon, there should be efforts to fight the sale of substandard goods and if authorities can't completely stop their flow, there should be efforts to mitigate its gravity.
Conferences and forums are regularly held, allegedly to serve the interests of customers. Promises are made to put an end to the phenomenon but nothing ever really changes. The latest example of such an event was the 3rd Arab Forum to combat commercial fraud held recently in Riyadh. Consumers had high hopes for the event and expected concrete steps to be taken to protect the rights of consumers, combat commercial fraud and stem the flow of counterfeit products.
Such a scenario would have provided some much-needed relief to the poor and those on limited incomes.
The magnitude of the problem is severe. Counterfeit products are flooding the market. Cheap prices and a lack of awareness about the importance of quality are instrumental in prompting citizens and foreigners to blindly open their wallets. Counterfeit car tires cause deaths, substandard perfumes, shampoos and cosmetics are leading to medical issues and, in some cases, cancer and counterfeit medicines has caused serious health complications. Consumers have heard countless stories about counterfeit drugs and herbal cosmetics causing cancer or containing toxic chemicals when they were seized but no further action was taken! There are near-daily newspaper reports on the seizure of goods and toys made from radioactive materials but no action was taken! Consumers have suffered from numerous price wars between companies but no action was taken to ensure they are not being charged artificially-inflated prices.
Fighting commercial fraud requires that efforts be intensified in this respect and this is the responsibility of everyone — government and citizens. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Saudi Customs must do more to fight the problem but citizens too need to play a greater role by not leaving the concerned authorities alone to carry out their duties.

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