(MENAFN - Arab News) The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has ordered that all shops must allow for exchange of products or refund. The new decision will take effect on Nov. 15 - the beginning of the year 1434 according to the Hijri calendar. Many shoppers are excited while shop owners say it would make them lose a lot.
Minister of Commerce and Industry Tawfiq Al-Rabiah tweeted through his personal Twitter account that all signs saying that sold items will not be refunded or changed were to be taken down with effective from the 1st of Muharram, the first month of the new Hijri year. Accordingly, the ministry had demanded that all companies, institutes and shops cooperate with this decision and change or refund all defective or adulterated items, Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper reported.
"Ever since I heard this I decided to delay my shopping to the beginning of the year because I want to take advantage of this," said Maha Al-Masry, a 28-year-old businesswoman. "We have suffered a lot because there are no fitting rooms in shops for women, so we can only guess if an item would fit us. If it doesn't, then we are left with something that we don't want and we cannot get our money back," she added.
Some people discover the item they bought is damaged when they go home. Mohammed Sadiq, a 34-year-old schoolteacher, said: "I remember buying a shirt and when I came home, my wife showed me that some of the buttons were missing. I went back to the shop, but the salesman told me it was not his problem. I couldn't change the shirt for a better one and it was my mistake I did not check the buttons before I paid for the item," he added.
Ali Sidani, owner of an abaya shop in Jeddah, said this decision is both good and bad at the same time. "I don't mind changing or refunding the merchandise on one condition, I get the abaya in the same condition it left the shop," he said. "I sometimes get the abayas back with cigarettes burns in them or with stains. Women insist they bought it that way. It's not fair for us to give them the money back for their clumsiness. This will make my business go down," he added.
A well-known clothing company would only exchange for credit, which made many Jeddawis stop shopping at that shop. "I love buying from this shop but knowing that I might get stuck with whatever I buy scares me," said Omimah Buloshi, a 30-year-old banker. "This store allows you to exchange but never gives your money back. They would provide a credit that lasts a year, but to me this is not fair. If I don't like it or it doesn't fit I should have the opportunity to look somewhere else and this forces us to buy from their store only," she added.
Grocery shopping is difficult for 41-year-old businessman Amro Rifai. He said it's a challenge going to the supermarket every time. "My wife calls me every day with a list of groceries and I'm supposed to buy them for her before lunchtime. I sometimes make mistakes and she asks me to change them for her preferred brand but that's impossible with the no return or exchange policy," he said. "With this new decision I can make all the mistakes I want without worrying about making my wife angry or being trapped with unneeded grocery," he added.
There must be a list of exceptions, said Faisal Jawwad, a clothing shop owner in Jeddah. "I don't trust people. Many would take out the price tag, wear the clothes, and a few days later ask for a refund. I need something to protect me as a shop owner," he said. "I am waiting for the exception list from the ministry so I know how to deal with such people and how to protect my business," he added.
The ministry did not set any penalties against companies and shops who choose not to abide by the decision.