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BY MOHAMED OSMAN
DOHA: Using smartphones, consumers can now access an innovative e-service of the trade ministry to compare prices of different items of daily use, including foodstuff, at various shopping complexes and instantly lodge a complaint with the consumer rights’ watchdog if they discover any violation.
Complainants can also click photographs of items with their phones if they are overpriced or past their expiry date, or if any other violation is detected, and forward the images to the Consumer Protection Department (CPD) of the trade ministry to support their complaint and seek punitive action.
Complaints can be lodged in Arabic or English by citizens as well as expatriates.
All a consumer needs to avail of the ministry’s new and people-friendly e-service is a smartphone on which the relevant application can be downloaded from the ministry’s website.
The Ministry of Business and Trade formally launched the e-service yesterday. Visiting French trade minister Nicole Bricq and Qatar’s Minister of Business and Trade, H E Sheikh Jassim bin Abdulaziz Al Thani, presided over the launch.
In a statement, copies of which were distributed during the launch ceremony, Sheikh Jassim said the trial of the e-service had been highly successful and it had evoked a massive response from the public. A large number of people downloaded the application on their smartphones and took part in the trial.
There is a trained team at the CPD to deal with consumer complaints received through the e-service, download them and process them for action, said Meshal Al Hammadi, director of information systems at the ministry.
The minister said in the statement that he hoped the e-service would become popular, and that they were prepared to upgrade it in the next quarter (April to June 2013) and include in it other services of the ministry. “The e-service will prove an effective means of communication between the people and the ministry. We have made it so easy for people to communicate with us,” said the minister.
He said various shopping centres, including Carrefour, had closely collaborated with the ministry to launch the e-service.
Speaking about the price list of various items (which is to be updated on a monthly basis, as is done now on the ministry’s website), the minister hinted that people would be able to compare the prices of items at different outlets and decide where to shop.
The ministry, he added, was concerned about consumers, their rights, complaints and comments. The e-service would also help traders improve their operations and services, he said. Bricq is leading a French business delegation whose members and several key Qatari businessmen were present at the launch of the service. THE PENINSULA