By Bravo Muchuu
Roadside Trading involves selling goods or services on a road or footpath or from a place adjacent to the road. Roadside Traders usually place along the road, a vehicle, a stall or a vending machine or any structure used for trading purposes. They may also be walking along the road selling or offering to sell goods and services to various consumers. Roadside Traders tend to embark on such ventures as it is thought to have readily available customers driving and walking on high ways and other streets. They also believe that it is cheaper to conduct business in such a manner as they do not pay any levies or rates to sell their goods and services. Needless to say that they do
not even have to display prices on the goods they are selling and they do not test the goods they are supplying to consumers. It is therefore, as simple as selling a product at any negotiated price.
Some consumers are also too busy to enter shops and buy goods and services. They would rather buy goods and services whilst driving or walking to their various destinations. Some consumers also say that it is easier to negotiate for prices on the street or road than in shops. Consequently, they do not think of requesting for a receipt or have the products tested before purchasing them. Since most of such consumers are in a hurry when buying goods and services on the road, they do not realize that they are reducing competitive price opportunities. They also do not have time to check the safety of the goods or services they are buying or offered to buy.
CCPC has received a number of consumer cases with regard to road side trading. The first case was to do with a woman who purchased a study lamp at a negotiated price of K40.00. The Roadside Trader told her that the study lamp never used batteries to go on but solar. When she reached home, the study lamp could not even switch on. Not having gotten the details of the Roadside Trader, she could not return the study lamp to seek redress. She rather reported the matter to CCPC. CCPC observed that the Roadside Trader contravened Section 47 (a) (i) and Section 49 (1) of the Act. Due to lack of details such as phone number of the Roadside Trader and the physical address, CCPC could not handle the case but advised the consumer to always request for a receipt when buying goods and services. She was also advised to be making sure that the product is tested before buying it. Therefore, the consumer lost a K40.00 since the study lamp was faulty.
The other case involved a consumer who purchased a mobile phone on the street. The consumer did not bother to ask for the contact details of the trader. Neither did she request for a receipt nor test the mobile phone. Whilst at home, she discovered that the phone could not recharge. The consumer went round the street looking for the same Roadside Trader but could not locate him. The consumer then decided to report to CCPC. CCPC observed that the trader contravened Section 49 (1) of the Act. However, CCPC could not intervene in the case due to lack of details of the trader. The consumer was advised to always request for a receipt containing full details of the trader. As CCPC, we always advise consumers to desist from buying goods and services from the street or roadside because of such instances. We always advise them to buy goods and services from well-established shops where physical location and contact details are availed to the consumer.
CCPC would like to encourage consumers to always request for a receipt for any purchase of goods or services. The receipt will be used as proof of purchase in case of any queries in future. As consumers, you need to attach value to any business transaction you do especially if it is done on the street or roadside. And for your safety, as you purchase goods and services on the road, ensure that they are fit for the purpose they are normally used for. Check whether the goods are well labeled and within their shelf life. Buying from the street is at owner’s risk and it is not advisable. Buying expensive items such as phones and other items should be done in designated shops, where receipts and warranties are given. The same applies to food products, if there is a problem, you know where to go and if food purchased is contaminated, it becomes easy to correct the situation. On the street, buy simple items such as newspapers. Items that do not cost too much money as risk is high. So invest little.
Therefore, it would be ideal if all hawkers or Roadside Traders were licensed by the Council as redress for aggrieved customers would be guaranteed as the Council would have or provide their fixed aboard.