The Commercial Compliance Manual, issued recently by the Commercial Compliance & Consumer Protection (CCCP) sector in Dubai Economy as part of its efforts to ensure best practices and competitiveness across business activity in the emirate, highlights five key elements that merchants must adhere to in order to maintain transparency in dealing with consumers as well as the authorities concerned. The five elements identified are part of a set of touchpoints listed in the manual to enhance ease of business and protect the rights of merchants as well as their consumers.
CCCP monitors commercial outlets and establishments in Dubai to ensure sustainable business practices and ensure an appropriate environment for merchants and consumers. The Commercial Compliance Manual complements the efforts of CCCP by instating clear foundations for more than 2,921 commercial activities to ensure transparency, sincerity and honesty in interacting with stakeholders across various processes, including in displaying and selling products, and enhancing the work environment.
Abdul Aziz Al Tannak, Director of Commercial Control in CCCP, said: "We continuously strive to educate merchants on how to protect their commercial activities and avoid violations as outlined by Dubai Economy with the aim to enhancing competitiveness in the emirate and protecting the rights of both merchants and consumers. The Commercial Compliance Manual includes the most prominent elements and conditions that merchants must be aware of and uphold. Merchants should also commit to co-operating with the competent inspection and control teams to ensure the success of the system.”
The five elements of doing business listed in the manual include consumer care, storefront, shop’s activity, location of the facility, and the Dubai Economy inspections. All merchants should focus on fostering a culture of flexibility in dealing with consumers to help improve their shopping experience in Dubai, remembering that communication is key to customer loyalty. Merchants should also avoid disturbing pedestrians by marketing their services and products outside their stores and must ensure that the store’s policy regarding purchases and exchange, among others, does not conflict with consumer protection laws and is displayed at the cashier desk or at a prominent place in the store. The invoice prices should be aligned with those displayed on the shelves.
The manual states that the merchant must document the terms and conditions of a consumer’s purchase on the invoice or in a contract signed between the two parties. In addition, the merchant must abide by the information of the products and services mentioned in the company announcements; avoid practices that violate laws and regulations, such as misleading the consumer or selling counterfeit products; and commit to displaying the guidelines for consumer protection channels that are available at www.consumerrights.ae. Merchants must clarify the warranty/extended warranty details on a product or service and its validity as well as document the condition of the products upon receipt for maintenance or repair, with confirmation of the same by the consumer. The merchant is also bound to co-operate with consumer protection authorities to resolve consumer complaints.
The storefront is prominently mentioned in the manual as the first thing that attracts the attention of a consumer. Therefore, the storefront presentation and validity of the information displayed are important. The manual emphasises the importance of proper storefront signage, with the store name correctly mentioned, including in Arabic language. The storefront must not be tinted more than 50%, only permitted trademarks must be used and a prior permit must be obtained for any additional signage.
Each merchant is issued one commercial licence for each authorised store, site, or booth, and the merchant must adhere to the approved type of activity and place to practise the activity, unless an addition or permit is obtained. Every commercial licence has a specific date and validity, which the merchant must renew in order to continue the activity. They must also refrain from selling or displaying publications, goods, or means that violate morality, Islamic teachings, or those deemed offensive by the country, customs, or traditions. Official working hours in Dubai are from morning to midnight, and additional permit must be obtained from Dubai Economy for any extension, before announcing the same via posters or flyers.
Other business licences may be added to the facility's location based on prior approvals from Dubai Economy. It is prohibited to sell products off-site and a merchant must commit to selling in authorised locations only. Additional offices may be opened under an existing licence with the approval of Dubai Economy, in the same building registered as the location on a licence. Kiosks may be opened in different locations as permitted by Dubai Economy, along with a permission to place game stations, ATMs, or any other device in or out of the shop.
Regarding Dubai Economy inspections, the manual clarifies that store representatives should be transparent and co-operate with the field inspector whose mission is to clarify the foundations of doing business, including protecting the interests of the merchant and the consumer. Merchants must display all the required data and documents pertaining to the store and ensure that they are always present in the store whenever the inspectors would require access, including in the event of seizing or confiscating goods.