THE CONSUMER’S CODE
Understanding Your Rights

Introduction

In this modern day and age, one can easily purchase their favourite items and/or goods, with just the touch of a finger. As simple as the purchase procedure is, delivery of such items and/or goods are often efficient and almost immediate.

However, what happens when the items and/or goods do not get delivered? Rather, what happens when the items and/or goods delivered are not as packaged or promoted. To make matters worse, what happens when the “marketplace” where these items and/or goods are purchased, do not provide a reasonable and/or effective method to resolve your grievances?

In Malaysia, the Tribunal for Consumer Claims is an independent body established to protect your rights. This independent body is established under Section 85, Part XII of the Consumer Protection Act 1999. The Tribunal operates under the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-Operatives and Consumerism.

Who Can Use This Tribunal?

And who can apply to this tribunal? Any person who buys goods and services for personal use or for domestic or household purpose.

Is This Tribunal Almighty?

No. Although we often hear the phrase, "the customer is always right", this Tribunal is not almighty. The Tribunal does not have jurisdiction over matters:-

(a) arising from personal injury or death;

(b) for the recovery of land, or any estate or interest in land;

(c) in which the title to any land, or any estate or interest in land, or any franchise, is in question; and

(d) in which there is a dispute concerning -

(i). the entitlement of any person under a will or settlement or on any intestacy;

(ii). good will;

(iii). any chose in action;

(iv). any trade secret or other intellectual property.

(e) where any other tribunal has been established under any other written law to hear and determine claims on matters that are under the jurisdiction of that other tribunal.

Also, claims made to the Tribunal must be made within a 3-years’ period from the date a complain arises.

I Have A Complain; Can I File It with The Tribunal?

Well, it really depends on the type of complain. The Tribunal for Consumer Claims entertains claims arising from:-

(a) a false or misleading conduct, false representation or unfair practice;

(b) safety of goods and services;

(c) right against a supplier from guarantees implied by the Act;

(d) right against a supplier from guarantees implied by the Act in relation to services;

(e) right against a manufacturer in connection with any express guarantee on the supply of goods; and

(f) right against a manufacturer in connection with any guarantee implied by the Act in respect of any goods.

10 Steps To A Tribunal Hearing

                                               
Step 1: File your claim using Form 1. Make sure to fill up four (4) copies.(available at https://ttpm.kpdnkk.gov.my/portal/download/forms)
                                               
Step 2: Pay the filing fee of RM5.00 (remember to collect your official receipt).
                                               
Step 3: Get back two (2) copies of Form 1 from the officer at the Tribunal. These copies will have the seal of the Tribunal.
                                               
Step 4: Send the sealed Form 1 to the individual / company that you are claiming from.
                                               
Step 5: The individual / company can defend your claim and at the same time, file a counter-claim (using Form 2; also filed in four (4) copies).
                                               
Step 6: Once Form 2 is filed (and the filing fee of RM5.00 is paid), the individual / company will receive a sealed copy of Form 2.
                                               
Step 7: The individual / company will send the sealed Form 2 back to you.
                                               
Step 8: If there is a counter-claim, filed your defence using Form 3; filed in four (4) copies. There is no filing fee for Form 3 and Form 3 must be filed within fourteen (14) days from the receipt of Form 2.
                                               
Step 9: Send Form 3 to the individual / company that you are claiming from.
                                               
Step 10: The Tribunal will issue Form 4, to indicate the date and time of the Hearing before the President of the Tribunal.

Note: You cannot be represented by a lawyer during the Hearing (see below).

What Do I Have To Look Out For?

Since you cannot be represented by a lawyer during the Hearing, here are a few pointers for you:-

(a) Prepare and bring along all relevant documents to support your claim. Examples of such documents may include, the purchase order, delivery order, invoice, confirmation email, pictures, etc.

(b) The Tribunal will often deliver its decision on the same day of the Hearing; normally within minutes from hearing both sides of the story.

(c) Prepare a brief summary of your claim. Set out a proper chronology of events and go straight to the point (the Tribunal has a lot of matters in a day; best to keep your "presentation" sweet and simple).

(d) The Tribunal’s decision is final and binding on all parties. The decision is akin to be an Order of a Magistrates Court and may be enforced as such.

(e) The Tribunal may make various awards, such as; reimbursement of monies, re-supply of goods, monies be awarded for loss / damage, interest, costs (maximum of RM200.00), OR for the claim to be dismissed altogether.

(f) The failure of any party to comply with the award of the Tribunal is a criminal offence.

(g) If any party is unhappy with the award of the Tribunal, an application for judicial review may be filed to the High Court.

Conclusion

Indeed, these information (with a more detailed explanation) can be found on the Tribunal's website at https://ttpm.kpdnkk.gov.my/portal/home. Nonetheless, we do understand that, although it is easy to perform "finger purchasers", one may not have the urge to "study" the Tribunal's website thoroughly.

All said and done, we hope that the brief commentary above provides readers with an insight on commencing claims at the Tribunal for Consumer Claims.

Just in case you are wondering; yes, we are happy to welcome you at our office, for a short chat (on the condition that our reasonable consultation fees are paid) on how best to commence your claim at the Tribunal.