Jan 27, 2023 11:38 AM
The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) fully supports Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Salahuddin Ayub for finally taking firm action to stop the abuse of consumers by Digital payments company Touch 'n Go (TNG).

Being a monopoly, TNG has always abused the welfare of consumers.

The Competition Act 2010 was established to prevent monopolistic behaviour by companies that abused their position in the market, thus causing suffering to consumers.

In relation to the abuses suffered by consumers, Fomca had filed a complaint with the Malaysian Competition Commission (MyCC) on Oct 30, 2018, against the abuses committed by TNG on consumers because of its monopolistic position.

Two years later, on Aug 28, 2020, MyCC responded that it had undertaken an investigation and, according to the results of its inquiry, “the issues raised do not raise any competition concern”. No matter how consumers are abused by TNG, the MyCC feels that it is not an issue of non-competition or the monopoly abusing its power.

There was again abuse of consumer welfare when TNG informed motorists that RFID would replace SmartTag. It sparked consumer anger and outrage. Fomca made a firm stand that consumers should be given a choice and not be forced into purchasing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID).

MyCC was silent again.

Growing complaints

Fortunately, the then prime minister made a firm announcement that consumers should be given a choice.

Welcome to National Consumer Complaints Centre Homepage08 Jan 2023 8:00AM
JOHOR BARU – The National Consumer Complaints Centre (NCCC) received 3,029 complaints against airliners from January 2020 to December 2021, according to its senior manager Baskaran Sithamparam.

The majority of the complaints, he pointed out, pertain to travellers facing obstacles in receiving refunds for cancelled flights.

During the height of the pandemic, Baskaran highlighted, travel restrictions saw travellers’ flights cancelled, with some airlines operating in Malaysia offering vouchers instead of cash refunds.

“What makes things worse is that these vouchers sometimes come with a time limit, whereby travellers must use them before the period ends.

“Furthermore, for some consumers, vouchers were not a feasible solution given that they paid for flights using their credit cards, so in such situations, cash refunds would have been best,” Baskaran told The Vibes.

Najib Redzuan is an example of a customer who purchased a flight with a low-cost carrier in early 2020, which was cancelled due to the movement control order in place at the time.

Until today, despite spending over RM5,000 on flight tickets to Japan for a family vacation, he has yet to receive proper reimbursement.

“We were planning to fly to Japan sometime in March, and when our flights were cancelled, I was told by the airline that I would get a refund within a certain time period.

“I waited a whole year until I came across the news that the airline would be pursuing a restructuring scheme, which would see customers like me receiving credits we could use to purchase another flight.

5 Jan 2023 4:00PM

ECONOMIC Affairs Minister Rafizi Ramli believes consumers are to blame for high food prices because they continue to purchase essentials although prices have gone up. He would suggest, for example, that if chicken prices go up, people should stop eating chicken.

According to the Malaysia Economic Monitor Report published by the World Bank in 2019, it was reported that 30% of Malaysians felt they did not have enough money for food. The number of Malaysians who felt that they did not have enough money for food had doubled since 2012.

In a study by Universiti Putra Malaysia on young workers in public housing areas, 48.9% reported that they needed to borrow to buy basic food items, 61.1% reported not having enough money for medicines and 89% made late bill payments.

In a more recent report, it has been stated that post-pandemic, 20% of M40 have fallen into the B40 category.

In the World Bank Report, it has clearly reported that between 2012 and 2018 both rural and urban Malaysians have felt growing hardship in their life conditions. In the simplest terms, honourable minister, consumers are suffering from low incomes and high prices. Not because they are choosing to patronise expensive options to fulfil their hunger and their needs.

Despite Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association’s (Fomca) continuous advocacy for food security, we continue to under-invest in food production, whereby our self-sufficiency is too low to meet demands for basic foods. More than RM50 billion is spent on importing food, resulting in high volatility of food prices, like now as our ringgit falls

21 Dec 2022 10:59AM
THE Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) would like to express its gratitude to the prime minister for ensuring no increase in electricity tariffs and efforts to address chicken and egg shortages.

Beyond these, what is needed is a holistic approach to the cost of living agenda. It encompasses issues of income and social protection, food availability and affordability, affordable housing, reliable public transport, accessible healthcare, affordable childcare services, and affordable internet services. It must also include the empowerment of consumers. Next, to ensure that the efforts and actions taken are actually having a positive impact on the people, we need to monitor their perceptions and their subjective wellbeing. Finally, we need to find a new way to move forward to ensure the effective implementation and monitoring of policies and programmes.

Income and social protection

Incomes in Malaysia are low. The living wage as proposed by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) is RM2,600 for a single adult. Yet, according to a World Bank Report in 2018, six million workers in Malaysia earned less than RM2,160. That was before the pandemic. Currently it has been reported that due to job loss and fall in income levels, coupled with the significant rise in cost of living, 20% of M40 have fallen into the B40 group.

Many Malaysians, especially in urban areas, feel their income is insufficient to raise their living standards. As at 2018, nearly 30% of Malaysians felt they did not have enough money for food and 23% reported they did not have adequate money for shelter. According to BNM, cost of living has been increasing across all households, but more significantly for lower income households in urbanised states.

Friday, 07 Oct 2022 l 9:37 PM MYT
"There is a need to create awareness and educate people across all age groups on the various types of scam tactics," said Fomca secretary-general and chief executive officer Datuk Paul Selva Raj.

"Financial education is especially important for young people, as they are more likely to rack up high debt and spend beyond their means," he said.

Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz had announced in his Budget 2023 speech that a National Scam Response Centre would be established and start operation this month, acting on reports received by blocking the accounts and taking action against perpetrators.

He also said a platform would be created for the public to report any account or number suspected of being used by scammers.

Meanwhile, Paul said the Jualan Murah Keluarga Malaysia, a programme to sell essential goods and food supplies at cheaper prices, should be expanded to more locations including urban areas.

"It is especially important to include urban areas, where the cost of living is high and the people's income is low. If people can buy raw ingredients and cook their own food, that would help them with their finances," he said.
Paul expressed hope that the boost for the healthcare sector would make the healthcare system more accessible and efficient, as the system is currently overwhelmed.

Tengku Zafrul announced that the Health Ministry would be getting a RM36.1bil allocation next year, compared with RM32.4bil this year.

Source: https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2022/10/07/budget-2023-more-needed-to-educate-people-on-scams-financial-literacy-says-fomca

September 23, 2022 @ 12:00pm
Kuala Lumpur: Megah menayang kemewahan hidup seperti banglo dan kereta besar, barangan peribadi berjenama serta percutian luar negara kepada pengikut di media sosial.

Bukan itu sahaja, mereka turut memberikan testimoni diri sendiri seperti menunjukkan penampilan ramping dan putih melepak yang didakwa selepas memakai produk keluaran mereka sendiri.

Itu antara taktik pemasaran digunakan segelintir pengasas produk kosmetik dan kecantikan untuk memerangkap 'mangsa' menjadi stokis dan ejen bagi membeli produk mereka.

Secara logiknya ke mana produk itu dijual sedangkan ia tidak kelihatan di pasaran kalau bukan 'pelanggan' itu sebenarnya adalah ejen dan stokis mereka sendiri.

Berkongsi pengalaman pernah terjebak dengan perangkap golongan itu, Ain, 35, berkata dia tertarik dengan gaya hidup mewah ditayangkan seorang pengasas produk kosmetik.

Katanya, keadaan itu membuatkannya menjadi yakin apatah lagi janji manis pengasas yang mendakwa produknya mudah dijual kerana ramai pelanggan mengulangi tempahan.

"Pengasas itu mendakwa produk krimnya laris dan menerima maklum balas yang baik daripada pelanggan. Saya pun beli puluhan kotak dan cuba menjualnya kepada orang, tetapi hanya laku beberapa sahaja.

"Keadaan itu menyebabkan saya terpaksa pakai sendiri untuk menghabiskan baki stok, tetapi lama-kelamaan kulit saya pula menjadi gatal, menggelupas dan kasar.

"Akhirnya saya terpaksa buang semua stok terbabit kerana tidak mahu merisikokan diri sendiri dan orang lain," katanya yang kerugian lebih RM1,500.

Suri rumah, Ira, 40, pula berkata dia hanya mencuba nasib menjadi ejen produk kecantikan dengan niat mahu membantu meringankan beban suaminya.

Namun, katanya, lain pula berlaku selepas dia termasuk dalam perangkap apabila perlu membeli secara pukal (kuantiti ditetapkan) bagi melayakkannya menjadi ejen dan mendapat keistimewaan harga lebih murah berbanding pelanggan biasa.

September 18, 2022 @ 1:00pm
Soalan (S): Apa pendirian FOMCA berhubung kenaikan OPR berturut-turut?

Jawapan (J): Sudah tentu keputusan BNM mempunyai kaitan langsung dengan ekonomi negara. Apabila OPR ditingkatkan, pada asasnya, pihak berkenaan mahu mengukuhkan nilai ringgit, selain memastikan simpanan dalam negara meningkat, susulan dua tahun negara berdepan pandemik. Dengan situasi dalam proses pemulihan ekonomi, pada asasnya, langkah kerajaan bertujuan melindungi ekonomi negara. Jadi apa dilakukan sekarang adalah berdasarkan ekonomi semasa. Jika tidak, bank akan terkesan dalam jangka panjang kerana kita bergantung dengan dolar AS, selain akan menghadapi kerugian besar. Pada masa ini, kadar OPR dinaikkan berperingkat dan sudah tentu yang mengalami kesannya adalah peminjam.

S: Apa saranan FOMCA terhadap peminjam dalam menghadapi kenaikan OPR?

J: Peminjam harus faham, ia berdasarkan perjanjian ditandatangani kerana tertera dalam dokumen perjanjian, iaitu jika berlaku perubahan OPR, pinjaman akan berubah. Ramai terkesan dengan situasi pandemik COVID-19 seperti alami kekurangan pendapatan dan hilang pekerjaan. Selain tekanan kenaikan harga barang, inflasi serta indeks harga sangat tinggi mengakibatkan kuasa beli pengguna jatuh. Ini turut menjejaskan kadar simpanan dan memberi kesan kepada perbelanjaan bulanan serta pada masa sama, mereka perlu memastikan ada makanan di atas meja untuk dimakan ahli keluarga.
Jadi, rakyat dalam kumpulan terjejas ini perlu menggunakan wang simpanan untuk menampung perbelanjaan. Faktor ini menyumbang masalah kewangan dan penambahan bebanan perbelanjaan pengguna. Namun, apa perlu dilakukan orang ramai jika tidak mampu melunaskan ansuran pinjaman, mereka perlu menghubungi pihak bank untuk membuat penjadualan semula pinjaman. Jika tidak membuahkan hasil, pengguna boleh mendapatkan bantuan Agensi Kaunseling dan Pengurusan Kredit (AKPK). AKPK akan memberi nasihat kewangan mengenai perkara sepatutnya dilakukan, jenis intervensi dan jika masih tidak mampu, akan berunding dengan bank untuk langkah seterusnya.

August 25, 2022 00:00 am +08
Water scarcity is increasingly becoming a global problem. Half of the world’s population could be living in areas facing water scarcity by as early as 2025, and 700 million people could be displaced because of intense water scarcity by 2030, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

Unfortunately, Malaysia faces this potential catastrophe as well. Based on the Water Resources Study for 2015 to 2050, the northern states of Perlis, Kedah and Penang are projected to experience a water shortage of 221 million to 246 million cubic metres (mcm). Selangor and Melaka could see water shortages of 1,000mcm and nearly 200mcm to 33mcm respectively.

There are multiple factors that contribute to this situation. Monash University School of Engineering associate professor Poh Phaik Eong identifies irresponsible human activities and lack of water catchment areas as the major culprits.

Poh says: “[This happens because] we have less coverage of vegetation such as plants, which have the ability to store water and release it slowly into the ground. If we reduce vegetation coverage, then, obviously, there’s no way for water to be captured.”

In addition, climate change will result in unpredictable weather patterns, so some areas may experience longer periods of drought. Subsequently, some water catchment areas may not be able to provide sufficient supply of water to communities.
Another challenge that the nation faces is poor drainage management systems in flash flood hotspots.

Poh gives an example of clogged drains at a night market that are caused by irresponsible hawkers who recklessly dump their waste. No additional number of alternative water tunnels will solve the problem of flooding until the drains are cleaned up.

Ultimately, she believes, strong policies and law enforcement — both in regulating businesses and changing public behaviour — are important in alleviating the problem. “This is a personal opinion: The law enforcers are not carrying out strict enforcement to prevent pollution from recurring. Illegal sites are still being set up and [the illegal players] discharging their wastewater into the drain.”

Proper wastewater recycling standards are needed, she adds.

Poh’s opinion is seconded by Professor Dr Zainura Zainon Noor, the Director of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s Research Institute for Sustainable Environment.

“A majority of these [water risks] are due to fragmented governance of water,” she says. “For instance, although federal agencies have some control over water — for example, the Department of Environment has control over the quality of water — and perhaps the overall policy direction, water resources, in general, are still under the authority of the state government.”

Zainura suggests having an integrated platform for both the federal and local governments to work together to ensure that water resources are properly managed.

Solutions to mitigate water scarcity

Beyond relying on dams and putting in huge investments to tackle water scarcity through infrastructure projects, Poh encourages wastewater recycling to be practised by businesses and the public in their individual capacities.

One solution is rainwater harvesting. Also known as rainwater catchment systems, the technology is built to collect and store rainwater for human use. Rainwater harvesting systems range from simple rain barrels to complex structures with pumps, tanks and purification systems to suit different needs.

Water collected from wastewater recycling solutions can be used for secondary activities such as car washing and flushing the toilet.

Based on a study by the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca), Malaysians have the highest water consumption rate in Southeast Asia of 220 to 250 litres a day. An average consumer should need only 80 litres of water a day, including three litres for drinking purposes, according to Fomca.

Ogos 21, 2022 @ 3:34pm
Kuala Lumpur: Kenaikan harga makanan pada masa ini bukan luar biasa berikutan ia dipengaruhi faktor kenaikan harga bekalan asas dan bahan mentah pada masa ini.

Pemilik restoran, Haslinda Rahman, 44, berkata, kenaikan itu bukan suka-suka atau tujuan mengaut keuntungan lebih sebaliknya ia hakikat yang ditanggung golongan peniaga makanan sepertinya disebabkan kenaikan harga barangan.

"Memang banyak barang naik. Boleh dikatakan antara 10 hingga 30 peratus barangan mentah seperti ayam, minyak masak, telur, ikan dan lain-lain lagi naik ketara.

"Jadi, untuk kelangsungan perniagaan, saya terpaksa naikkan juga harga jualan antara 10 kepada 15 peratus bergantung kepada jenis makanan.

"Itupun sebenarnya memang tiada untung tetapi kami cuba untuk bertahan sedaya mungkin dan pada masa sama tidak mahu membebankan pelanggan.

"Namun saya akui tidak boleh tahan lama mungkin kalau harga barangan naik lagi nanti kita akan gunakan cara lain termasuk terpaksa umumkan kenaikan antara 20 hingga 25 peratus supaya dapat tampung kos dan memastikan perniagaan kekal," katanya mengulas mengenai harga makanan mahal pada masa ini.

Bagi Muhd Alif Suaimi, 32, dia sudah mula menaikkan harga jualan makanan di gerainya sejak pertengahan Julai lalu bagi memastikan perniagaan diusahakan terus bertahan dengan cabaran semasa.

"Semua makanan macam laksa, rojak, mi rebus dan bihun sup saya naikkan serentak daripada RM5 kepada RM6 satu pek.

"Saya terpaksa naikkan RM1 setiap pek makanan kerana harga bahan mentah seperti telur, daging, timun dan cili api mengalami trend kenaikan antara 30 peratus hingga 40 peratus.

"Jadi, kenaikan ini tidak hairan kalau pergi mana-mana pun sama ramai peniaga makanan buat macam itu demi kelangsungan perniagaan," katanya.

Katanya, dia mengambil pendekatan itu untuk menyeimbangkan antara keuntungan dengan modal dan kos berkaitan bagi mengekalkan kualiti makanan sedia ada.

"Buat masa ini kita masih bertahan dengan harga macam ini kerana kita pun ada kos untung rugi perlu diambil kira.

"Kalau dulu kami boleh dapat keuntungan 50 peratus manakala sebahagian lagi adalah modal tetapi sekarang walaupun harga jualan dinaikkan kami cuma dapat untung dalam 30 peratus sahaja daripada setiap makanan.

"Namun apapun, saya amat bersyukur sambutan pelanggan masih sama macam dulu, malah mereka lebih memahami keadaan kami sekarang," katanya.

Sementara itu, Timbalan Presiden Gabungan Persatuan-Persatuan Pengguna Malaysia (Fomca) Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman berkata, kenaikan harga makanan di gerai mahupun restoran pada masa ini berasas berikutan cabaran semasa.

Ogos 12, 2022 @ 7:05am
Kuala Lumpur: Tertarik dengan tawaran 'bayaran ansuran tanpa faedah' yang disediakan oleh sebuah pasaran dalam talian 'Beli Sekarang Bayar Kemudian' (BNPL), membuatkan Ahmad yang menghadapi kekangan kewangan, memanfaatkannya tanpa berfikir panjang.

Menganggap kaedah itu sebagai yang terbaik untuk dia mendapatkan barangan keperluan rumah tangga yang didirikannya pada 2020, pereka grafik berusia 24 tahun tersebut "memborong" sebuah mesin basuh yang dilengkapi sistem pengering berharga RM3,000 dan peti sejuk berharga RM1,800 pada tahun lepas.

"Semasa survei harga dengan isteri melalui satu aplikasi e-dagang, ada jumpa barang yang dimahukan, tetapi biasalah tempoh penghantaran barang memakan masa lama.

"Jadi, saya cuba lagi survei sehinggalah terjumpa satu iklan di Instagram mengenai BNPL dan apa yang menjadikan kami tertarik adalah ayat yang digunakan, 'bayaran ansuran tanpa faedah', membuatkan kami terus membeli barang tersebut tanpa berfikir panjang," kongsinya kepada Bernama.

Pada awalnya, pasangan itu yang mempunyai pendapatan isi rumah RM5,000 sebulan, tidak mempunyai masalah membayar ansuran bulanan peti sejuk dan mesin basuh, masing-masing sebanyak RM450 dan RM250.

Malah, bayaran peti sejuk sudahpun dilunaskan pada September tahun lalu. Namun, komitmen kewangan pasangan itu bertambah susulan kelahiran bayi sulung mereka pada Februari lalu.

Masih terikat bayaran ansuran peti sejuk, Ahmad mengakui dia kini berasa terbeban disebabkan ada perbelanjaan luar jangka membabitkan si kecil yang kerap sakit.

Ujarnya, sekalipun jumlah RM250 itu tidak sebesar mana, peningkatan perbelanjaan keluarga, khususnya melibatkan anak, menyebabkan beban bayaran ansuran tersebut amat dirasai, lebih-lebih lagi komitmen tersebut adalah selama 12 bulan.

Bagi menampung keperluan kewangan, Ahmad berkata dia kini turut melakukan kerja sampingan sebagai penunggang e-hailing.

Namun pada masa sama, dia tidak menolak kemungkinan akan terus memanfaatkan BNPL pada masa akan datang sekiranya ada keperluan yang mendesak.

Bagi Gabungan Persatuan-Persatuan Pengguna Malaysia (Fomca), situasi yang dialami Ahmad itu tidak boleh dipandang enteng dan mereka mahu pihak berwajib menyegerakan penggubalan Akta Kredit Pengguna (CCA) yang akan turut merangkumi BNPL.

Penggubalan CCA yang dijangka dibentangkan di Parlimen pada suku kedua 2023, adalah tepat pada masanya demi menjamin kestabilan kewangan pengguna.

Mengulas mengenainya, Timbalan Presiden Fomca Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman berkata, disebabkan BNPL masih belum dikawal selia oleh pihak berkuasa, sistem itu terdedah kepada manipulasi kadar faedah oleh penyedia perkhidmatan.