Consumers are urged to be cautious when hiring and dealing with individuals/businesses from social media platforms for services such as construction, joinery, mechanical, electrical, upholstery and so forth. Whilst this seems convenient, as one does not have to go around searching for such service providers, the Consumer Council of Fiji confirms there are some unfortunate consumers who have lost out on their hard-earned money especially at a challenging time like this.

The Council, in the past few months, received related complaints from
consumers concerning various online trading platforms. Currently, a
similar case has been registered where a family in Samabula paid $450 to
Creativ Upholstery Workz whom they hired through Facebook, to carry out
upholstery works on an antique furniture. The upholstery company
promised to repair the furniture at the consumer’s residence which was
deemed convenient because of the consumers’ work commitments. The trader
however, despite receiving the full payment, did not complete work.

Many attempts by the consumer and the Council to receive redress proved futile, as the trader was unregistered and the business had no physical address.

“It becomes difficult to pursue, as these online businesses cover their tracks and maintain anonymity. Hence before engaging in businesses advertised on online platforms, it is important to check whether or not the business is registered, provide full business details which should include their registration, contact details and physical address. When dealing with businesses who provide services such as construction, mechanical, electronic, plumbing or upholstery, so forth, these are some of the factors to look out for in order to ascertain whether or not they are genuine businesses,” said Council CEO Seema Shandil.

Consumers are also advised to be
aware of the repercussions of hiring such online traders as they might
not get the services they require and subsequently unable to recover the
money already paid.

l Consumers can also contact the Council on our toll-free number, 155 to lodge a complaint and are encouraged to visit our offices in Suva, Lautoka or Labasa should they wish to do so in person.

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