Friday, 14 December 2012

A Consumer Christmas Wish List

During the Xmas period it is considered part of the festive season to give and receive presents. I remember as a young boy writing a letter to Father Xmas and asking for the gifts(s) I hoped to find under the tree. Many times I was disappointed and had to do with small gift and more often than not, practical things like socks or other clothing articles were part of my “presents”.

For this Xmas season I have made a wish list of things I would like to see for the Namibian consumer.

Friendly Customer Service

Many employees in government and private business are not aware of the saying, (or simply ignore it), “The customer is king”. While it is understandable that the salaries are never enough and personal problems are worrying you, please make an effort to greet your customer and provide the most helpful service you can. Not only will you make me happier, but it will also lead to me doing more business with your company – which will lead to more profit and hopefully better salaries.

More affordable banking choices
Banks provide an important service. If you as a consumer wish to grow, you need the credit provided by the bank. My wish is that banks work at innovative ways to make the services more affordable.

Buying “Made in Namibia”

Buying products made in Namibia or preferring to use services provided by local companies’ means more profits for local owners who will create more jobs and these consumers in turn buy more in an ever increasing cycle of growth. Buying local is not only good for you; it’s good for all of us.

Understandable Pricing

The prices on products in the shops are often difficult to compare. The same product is packed in different sizes and makes comparison difficult. I would like to see the shops provide the price of all products broken down into the price per kilogram, litre or some other unit that will allow me to make comparisons between products of different sizes.

Consumer Law

The Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Justice, Namibian Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa) and the Namibian Competition Commission have made presentations on consumer protection frameworks during the past few years. I wish for a comprehensive legal draft on consumer protection to be tabled in Parliament (soon).

Affordable Housing for all

The demand for housing is not being met by the National Housing Enterprise (NHE) or the assistance programmes created by local authorities. Preventing foreigners from buying properties in urban areas is not going to greatly influence the prices or provide more erven for first time buyers. I wish for better town planning which will purposefully create mixed economy housing. By this I mean having lower income housing areas close to (and between) high income housing. For example affordable housing areas on the east side of Windhoek close to Klein Windhoek, Avis and Ludwigsdorp. This will not bring down the cost of housing in these areas, but will certainly bring down the cost of transport and other costs for the workers who have to work in these areas if they live closer.

Away with January Blues

Of all my wishes, this is the one where you have to be good consumer to get your gift. No matter what the temptation is, do not spend more than you can afford. Save some money and remember that after Xmas there are many bargains to be had for cheaper when consumers are no longer “in the spirit of buying”. If you can spend according to your budget you will have money left in January.

Lastly, I wish for all consumers to remember some good advice given to me by my grandfather, “Never buy food, clothes or petrol on credit. Never use now and pay later. You will not appreciate what you bought if it is old when you have to pay for it.”

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