Buyer beware

Every day, consumers are being told half truths about products by companies, but not every consumer is aware of it.

To help them, the Foundation for Consumers is launching short films under Lao Ruang Phoo Boripok 6+1 (The Stories Of Consumers) tomorrow at SF Cinema, CentralWorld.

The six short films and one documentary are aimed at pushing for the draft approval of Section 61, or the Consumer Independent Organisation Act.

"Everyone is a consumer. But not many are aware of how the Consumer Independent Organisation Act could improve their lives," said Saree Aongsomwang, the foundation's secretary-general. Medical fees have increased and an expressway fee rise is being considered, but consumers have never had a say. An independent body with rights under the law would better protect consumers, campaigners say.

Section 61 of the constitution requires an independent statutory body to protect consumers' rights. A bill currently being considered in parliament would set one up, and the foundation wants politicians to pass it through its third reading stage.

The shorts were directed by filmmakers including Paichit Supawaree, Boonsong Narkpoo and Patana Chirawong. They tell stories of how consumers have struggled to protect their own rights after unfair treatment by business operators. The problems include credit-card debts, public van safety, and overcharging by mobile phone service providers.

Film is the best way to educate consumers on their rights and how Act 61 relates to them, said Saree, citing foreign documentaries that have successfully delivered messages to consumers, including Super Size Me.

"The films tell them how they are being taken advantage of," she said.

Kam Krai (Whose Karma?) by Paichit centres around a group of credit-card users who couldn't meet the payment deadlines, but tried to write off the debts by getting more loans from new cards. Find out how one character settled her debts in the end.

Klab Baan (Returning Home) by Chan Rungruengdejwattana tells a story of the danger of public vans, while Priceless by Manussa Worasing is about a middle-aged man who's trying to get compensation for his brother who died in a public van accident.

Disconnected by Boonsong portrays the common case of consumers being overcharged for telephone bills, most of which are for services such as ringtone downloads they never used. And 61 by Patana is a documentary to educate people about Section 61.


Screenings are at 4pm and 8.30pm tomorrow, and 4pm on Sunday. Free admission. Tickets are available at www.artculture4health.or.th or call 02-612-6996-7, ext 101.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Sirinya Wattanasukchai
Position: Reporter