* The initiative grants laundries and dry-cleaning shops a period of three months, starting Jan 20, to comply.
* Consumers must keep an invoice of purchased clothes and items delivered to laundries and dry-cleaning shops.
* The initiative guarantees the consumer’s right to compensation when damage occurs.
* The consumer is required to keep the laundry service invoice and to document any special agreement with the laundry.
* The initiative compels laundries to advertise the service delivery period, regular delivery prices and urgent delivery prices.
The Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) has announced an initiative to regulate the services of laundries and dry-cleaning shops in Qatar.
The move is based on Circular No 1/2018 and in line with the ministry’s policy to regulate commercial activities in accordance with applicable laws and regulations governing the protection of basic consumer rights, the MEC has said in a statement.
The ministry has outlined the obligations of laundries and dry-cleaning shops towards consumers as part of the initiative, which comes within the framework of the MEC’s efforts to control markets and ensure that suppliers comply with their obligations under Law No 8 of 2008 on consumer protection and its regulations, as well as to ensure consumers’ access to correct information and data on goods and services, the statement notes.
The initiative “plays an important role in ensuring numerous key benefits to consumers”, including informing consumers of the advertised services that are actually provided by the laundry. It also compels laundries to clearly inform consumers whether these advertised services are actually offered at the same shop, or through another one. This was not the case in the past, when some laundries advertised services that they did not provide or offered through other shops without the consumer’s knowledge, the MEC said.
In addition, the new initiative compels laundries to provide proof of the condition of clothing and other items upon receipt by the laundry. In this context, laundry shops are required to inspect the condition of the items upon receipt and indicate whether the items are defective or damaged, as well as document this condition in the invoice before the service is provided.
Prior to the initiative, laundry shops were not required to document the condition of items (clothes, carpets and others) upon receipt and before the service was provided.
* Distinguishing between regular service prices and quick service prices
As for the distinction between the prices and terms for a regular service as opposed to an urgent service, the initiative compels laundries to announce the service delivery period and distinguish between normal and urgent deadlines and their prices. Previously, most laundries did not announce the difference in price between regular and urgent service delivery.
* Initiative compels laundries to preserve clothes for three months
Prior to the initiative, the period for which laundries must retain clothing and other items was not determined, whereby each shop had its own policy to determine the period during which it would be responsible for preserving clothes and other items against loss and damage. However, after the launch of the initiative, all laundry shops are responsible for preserving clothes and other items for three months.
* Clear mechanisms and principles that guarantee both parties’ rights
Other benefits of the initiative include compelling laundries to develop uniform and binding mechanisms to compensate consumers in the event of damage, loss, change of colour or other damage to the item. Previously, each laundry had its own compensation policy regarding damage to clothing or other items amid the lack of a uniform compensation policy.
Within the framework of the MEC’s goal to preserve the rights of consumers by regulating the relationship between the trader and consumer based on clear grounds that guarantee the rights of both parties, the initiative on regulating the services of laundries and dry-cleaning shops outlines the compensation mechanisms, which include agreed-upon compensation and mandatory compensation.
* Agreed-upon compensation
The ministry has outlined two scenarios with respect to the agreed-upon compensation.
The first scenario is that both parties agree on the compensation value before the provision of the service and the delivery of clothing or other items to the laundry, particularly expensive items. The compensation must be documented in the invoice relating to the item as a reference in case of damage.
Under the second scenario, in the absence of an agreement between both parties the laundry owner shall seek an agreement with the consumer on the value of compensation for the damage, loss, colour change, etc, to end the dispute without infringing the rights of the consumer while taking into account the condition, price and date of purchase of the items concerned by referring to the purchase invoice or through other means, the MEC statement explains.
* Mandatory compensation
As for mandatory compensation, the MEC has said it includes paying compensation based on the estimated monetary value (provided the purchase invoice of the item is presented), whereby the compensation value owed to the consumer is determined by calculating the estimated monetary value of the item when the damage occurred and subtracting from the invoice purchase price the depreciation calculated based on the value table.
* Calculation of the monetary compensation for damaged items
In this context, the ministry has explained how to calculate the monetary value of an item from the date the damage occurred as follows:
1. In case the damage occurred within three months from the date of purchase, the value of the compensation shall be 70% of the value of the item. In case of damage after three months to six months from the date of purchase, the value of the compensation shall be 50% of the value of the item.
2. In case the damage occurs between six months and one year from the date of purchase, the compensation value is set at 30% of the item value.
3. If the damage occurs one year after purchasing the item, the compensation value is set at 20% of the item’s value.
4. In case of mandatory compensation in the absence of a purchase invoice, the consumer is compensated for the damaged items (damage, loss, colour change, etc.) at 15 times the cost of the service provided to the consumer by the seller.
The MEC has explained that the gradual compensation mechanism provides flexibility, allowing the consumer and laundry to find the best solution to end the dispute. If the consumer believes the offered compensation based on these mechanisms is inappropriate, he or she reserves the right to file a complaint with the relevant authorities or request compensation before competent courts.
* Compelling laundries to draft invoices including points of initiative
The ministry highlighted the right of each laundry to draft the invoice in the manner it deems appropriate, with an obligation to indicate whether the item is defective or damaged, and to document the condition in the invoice before providing the service. The laundry must also note the distinction between regular and urgent deadline and the service prices, in addition to preserving clothing and other items for a three-month period.
The Ministry noted that consumers must present the purchase invoice of an item to obtain compensation according to the estimated monetary value.
* Retaining invoices ensures consumers ‘right to compensation
The MEC has urged consumers to retain the purchase invoice of clothes and items delivered to laundries and dry-cleaning shops to ensure their rights to compensation when some damage occurs.
It is also necessary to retain the laundry service invoice to document the condition of the clothes upon delivery or any special agreement with the laundry, in addition to the date of delivery, and to ensure a satisfactory agreement with the laundry before the delivery of expensive or new items to ensure fair compensation in the event of damage.
* Predetermined item delivery date
The ministry has urged consumers to specify the delivery date of clothing and other items in the invoice. The non-compliance of laundries and dry-cleaning shops with the delivery deadline is contrary to Law No 8 of 2008 on consumer protection.
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