By Bravo Muchuu
This week’s article looks at what window shopping is and how helpful it is to consumers. The practice of window shopping is really wide and it involves walking through shopping malls or shop to shop with the purpose of watching the displayed items without any prior intention of buying. This can also be done online where a consumer may browse sites with no intention of buying. This is one activity that does not cost money but only one’s time and energy. Undoubtedly there is need to plan for such an activity as it involves quite a lot.
Window shopping includes among other things keen observation of the displayed products in shops. You need to keenly observe how safe the products are, their quality and also find out new trends on the market. Window Shopping is usually for non-food items. Items that can cost a lot of money. Use this time when you have little or no money to learn about the product. Is it what you need? Will it be fit for your purpose? Window shopping gives you an opportunity to ask traders their terms and conditions on the products they are selling before you make a purchasing decision.
A number of consumer complaints could be prevented by window shopping. Window shopping gives consumers an idea of what products are in fashion, to get the idea of what would look good on them or what would be the best to decorate their homes or to collect things or buy gifts. Window shopping will give you a platform to assess whether the products that are on the market are fit for the purpose they are normally used for or not. As you window shop, you get to know the prices of various products on the market offered by different suppliers beforehand. You will be able to obtain competitive prices on the market and in turn formulate a sound budget. Additionally, window shopping will help you prevent impulse buying and no trader or supplier will coerce you to buy their products.
Nevertheless, when window shopping, people can shop as much as they can without the fear of over expenditure. Apart from the traditional format of window shopping, one can also pursue this shopping at home online. Here, the buyer can check out the products offered on the internet as much as they want to.
CCPC has through advocacy and investigations resolved a number of consumer complaints that would have somewhat been prevented by window shopping. A very good example of such a case is one where a consumer purchased a solar light kit from a trader to light up her house. Whilst at home, she discovered that the solar light kit was inadequate as it could not light up the entire house. She thus returned the solar light kit to the trader for a refund. The consumer alleged that the trader refused to redress her. This allegation appeared to have been a breach of Section 53 (1) of the Act. CCPC intervention recommended that the consumer reclaimed the solar light kit or select any items from the trader’s shop equivalent to the amount she had paid for the solar light kit. Needless to say that had she window shopped before she decided to buy the solar light kit, she could have purchased the correct size of the solar light kit for her house. The Commission did not impose any penalty against the trader since preliminary investigations revealed that the trader was not in breach of Section 53 (1) of the Act. Instead, the consumer was educated on her obligation to shop around for the correct item she needed.
CCPC would thus like to encourage consumers to window shop before making a decision to purchase as mistakes caused by consumers cannot be deemed to be violations of the Act by traders.