Consumer Claims Tribunal to accept SMS complaints

Consumers can now use the short messaging service (SMS) to file complaints with the Consumer Claims Tribunal with a guarantee their complaints would be looked into within three working days.

All they need to do is type TTPM TUNTUT (IC number) (full name) (full  address) (the claim) and send the complaint to 15888.

An officer of the tribunal would then call the consumer within three working days.

Many see this service as most helpful and beneficial, especially to rural folks or those in remote areas — who no longer need to travel for hours, just to register their case.

Statistics from the domestic trade, cooperative and consumerism ministry showed there were 4,542 cases filed with the tribunal from Jan 1 to May 31, this year, as compared to 2,272 cases during the same period last year.

The Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca) welcomes the initiative which encourages more consumers to practise their rights when facing problems with those selling goods and service providers.

Fomca president N. Marimuthu said the proposal was a good effort by the ministry to allow more consumers to file their complaints but cautioned it should be a means for the tribunal to respond to them effectively and fast.

“People can air their complaints through many different channels such as the internet or letters there must be proven efficiency in solving their complaints,” he told reporters on Monday.

“If there is no response, or there is a delay, then it defeats the purpose of having an SMS system,” he said, adding that there should be sufficient manpower and an efficient system to deal with complaints. Ministry statistics showed that from January 2000 to May 31, this year, about 58,100 out of 59,440 cases were solved by the tribunal.

Total claims amounting to RM275.6 million were filed during the period while RM135.2 million in claims were awarded.

To ensure consumer rights are protected, the ministry also collaborates with the Bar Council, Sabah Law Association and Bank Kerjasama Rakyat Malaysia Bhd to provide free legal services to poor consumers.

Currently, the tribunal has over 40 branches nationwide, 10 of which were newly-opened this year in Batu Pahat, Muar, Port Dickson, Taiping, Seri Manjung, Kulim, Gombak, Kuala Kubu Baru, Sri Aman and Keningau.

The tribunal will only hear cases involving claims below RM25,000. The speedy settlement of cases could be attributed to the tribunal’s ability to solve issues even in the absence of either party.

Another benefit of the tribunal is that it is cheap. The registratrion fee for filing a case is merely RM5, which could be paid online.

The tribunal is an alternative for the redress of consumers and once the award has been delivered, it is final and binding.

The Tribunal for Consumer Claims is an independent body established under Section 85, Part XII of the Consumer Protection Act 1999, with primary objective to provide an alternative forum for consumers to file claims in a simple,
inexpensive and speedy manner.

However, according to Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, often, when consumers win their cases, the big companies which lost, would take the cases to the High Court for judicial
review.

“Because of this, in some cases, the process is no longer easy, affordable and fast,” he said.

– Bernama