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INTELLIGENT, FAST, EASY: How DED’s Dubai Consumer app is revolutionizing the way consumers buy

by | Feature

Aug. 27, 19 | 10:30 am

How many of you have had failed purchases that were not solved, or at least not in the easiest and fastest way possible? Thanks to the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai, gone are the days when you have to fall in line, call, or sometimes even physical appear in the office to lodge your complaint. Gone are the days when you have to wait for many days to be able to solve your purchase grievances.

How did DED solve this long-standing problem of consumers? Through its app Dubai Consumer App, which its Commercial Compliance & Consumer Protection (CCCP) sector has launched two years ago. This app has proven how the government organization is successfully catching up with today’s technology. Its Self Service or Smart Protection feature involves an Artificial Intelligence—the first of its kind in the world—that responds quickly and efficiently to consumer’s complaints.

In an exclusive interview with The Filipino Times, DED’s Director of Consumer Protection Department Ahmad Hassan Al Zaabi explained that the objective behind it is to empower people about their rights as a consumer.

“We want to enhance consumer experience with regards to filing their complaints, and help them solve their consumer-related quandaries by communicating directly with the companies,” he said.

Five minutes fast
The speed of resolving the complaint, Al Zaabi added, is also revolutionary as it can only take up to five minutes.

“Through the app, any complaint can be solved in just five minutes maximum, as compared to four working days in the past. The app is also our way to quickly relay to the customers their rights,” he said.

DED has focused on the speed of service in the app so the organization can cater to as many consumers as they can, especially in the upcoming Expo 2020.

“We expect the number of consumers who are lodging their complaints to double or triple. This is one of the channels that will help us align with the needs of the many, many customers in the market. Also, because it is powered by an Artificial Intelligence, the errors will be very limited and very less,” said Al Zaabi.

Mr. Ahmad Al Zaabi

Asked if the quality will remain the same, Al Zaabi answered: “Every year, we double the number of employees just to cover the trend and increase of the number of consumers. Our goal is to maintain the same quality and efficiency that we used before.”

How it works
Consumers may download Dubai Consumer, which is free, either on iOS or Google Play. They can choose between two methods to lodge their complaints. The first one is the Traditional Service, which takes up to four working days to solve.

The second one is the Self Service or Smart Protection, where they can lodge their complaint through the Artificial Intelligence. After providing your contract, or invoice and receipt number, the Artificial Intelligence will e-mail the empowerment letter, which consumers may then show to or use to stress their rights to the store owners. The entire process leading to getting the empowerment letter takes five minutes all in all, and anyone from around the world can access it 24/7—provided of course that they have made their purchase in Dubai, as the app only holds authorities to businesses licensed in the emirate.

The power of empowerment letter
According to Al Zaabi, the empowerment letter is considered an official decision from the government and the government inspector. Stores that would not recognize it will be subject to penalties.

“Not recognizing it will result in commercial penalties like commercial fines. If we failed to reach a resolution, it might even lead to the closing of the business,” he said. “Luckily, until now, we didn’t have to reach that point because most businesses are complying. Small companies, however, may only need more awareness as to how to deal with the letter or empowerment decision taken by the app.”

A better business-consumer relationship
Al Zaabi also noted that since the launch of the app, DED is getting a lot of gratitude letters from companies, highlighting how the new system is helping them know the consumers and the market better.

“They started knowing their consumers better than before, even understanding the behaviour and the requirement of each one. It has become a channel for the company to understand their consumers and to be directly aligned with them,” he said.

More complaints to come
For the first half of 2019, DED has lodged 17,768 complaints, and 38% percent of those are through the app. Al Zaabi said the government agency expects the number of the traditional method of lodging complaints to reduce, and that many more people will use the app’s Self Service or Smart Protection feature. Through this, he said DED believes many more companies will start aligning with the laws and regulation concerning consumer protection in the country.

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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