Miles to go to consumer-friendliness    

Mahmudur Rahman     | Published: August 04, 2018 22:20:18 | Updated: August 05, 2018 21:30:35

Notwithstanding the significant progress in creating a consumer-friendly environment in the country, there's still some way to go. Consumer complaints are being addressed though in a gurgle with some getting compensation but the other aspect, that of advertising standards, is way off. UK's Advertising Standards Authority has recently forced Eurostar to stop saying 'from fares as low as £29' and Gatwick Airport as their Gatwick Express almost never reaches London in twenty-five minutes. Apparently there aren't sufficient £25 Eurostar tickets to qualify the advertising claim. Subtle as the claims may be, points have been docked.

 In the local market a surfeit of media outlets and a deficit of advertising means anything goes. So while children are re-taught to wash hands in 10 seconds, hospitals labour on about the importance of proper washing that certainly takes longer. A detergent hits the soft button by suggesting the product makes nurses' clothes germ-free so as to provide safety of a new born. It says nothing of the time between washing-drying-wearing and travelling. This scribe was fortunate to have imbibed into a supposedly nutritious drink and never ended up as healthy as the young models turn out to be. Indeed, the concern with today's youngsters is that obesity is afflicting the fortunate ones and malnourishment the less fortunate ones. They all watch similar media be it in a highrise apartment or a little slum house, those of the latter group wishing they could. The psychological impact on them is never considered. One wonders if the censor board, our only real advertising authority for TV and Radio ads, ever asks to see results of 'research that proved' using "the brand" really did make the children "taller, smarter, brighter". And if that's true, it is an item to be added to the free school meals that this government introduced.

Telecoms companies were quick to beat each other in becoming first to launch 4G networks and making a big meal of it in ads. One wonders if we shall know when every nook and corner has the coverage. But communicating 4G when it's not available everywhere is an unsubstantiated claim as consumers get to learn. And since when was it fair that DESCO charges monthly hire for metres and yet doesn't take liability for damage to electrical goods due to power fluctuations?

An advertising standards authority is just as necessary as the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI). India has it and Indian TV is mandated the obligation of scrolling a message that runs along the strains of 'if anyone has concerns or complaints about anything broadcast by the channel they may complain to' so and so authority. We need an authority not just for ads but also broadcasting news without proper investigation and, of course, followed by apologies for wrong news. In all cases above the consumer is a sure bunny bobbing up and down, here and there with no one to turn to.



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