Armine Hovhanisyan bought a dress from a shop. A few minutes later she changed her mind. She decides to return and exchange it for another one.
“They offered a more expensive one, but I didn’t like it. I liked a shirt, but it was cheaper. They refused to give me that shirt with extra money”, Armine says.
Unaware of the law on “Consumers’ rights” she has been keeping that dress at home for no use.
“If a person bought a dress but changed her mind, she has the right to exchange that item within 14 days,” says deputy chairman of “Consumers rights protection” NGO Karen Chilingaryan.
If such an item is missing from the store, when the citizen decides to return it, the store should offer money refund or another similar item upon receiving such in stock.
“I didn’t even take the dress home. I didn’t touch anything, nor did I pluck the tag or discard the receipt. But they just didn’t replace it for me,” – Armine says.
Lawyer-expert Marat Atovmyan says that the item must be replaced if it hasn’t been damaged, tag removed, receipt lost.
You can often see the sing “no returns or refunds” on shops.
Karen Chilingarian assures it’s groundless. The law clearly states the procedure of “returning proper quality items”.
Our query in 10 branded and non-branded shops revealed that they keep the consumer law clauses with certain reservations. In non-branded store it is up to staff’s discretion.
Marat Atovmyan says in case of violation of consumer rights, the ultimate decision should come from court. “Sometimes citizens hesitate to take such cases to court. Of course they need to do so. It will create a precedent. The stores will realize that if they don’t satisfy customers, they will face court,’ expert Atovmyan says.
In 2002 Government decision identified the list of “replacement of items with inappropriate quality”. It includes hygiene and baby care items, drugs, gems, perfumes, etc.
Marat Atovmyan believes consumer rights protection in Armenia is on a very low level. He call on consumer rights protection organizations to be more active on raising public awareness.
Karen Chilingaryan says it is also important to understand the entrepreneurs here. Imagine everybody buying products and returning them a day later.