1. Why go to a consumer centre?
Today an independent body representing the interests of consumers is needed more than ever before due to the changes being made to the national welfare system (new constitution, pension plans, health-care system, among others), the complexity of liberalized markets (energy, telecommunications) and the globalization of business.
The fact that we predominantly comprise publicly-funded, non-profit organizations and individual professionals means that we can provide you with independent and impartial advice. Traditionally, support for consumers in Kenya has come from the non-governmental sector.
The COFEK and consumer centres at the Counties and districts headquarter towns are the most important contact points for people seeking comprehensive consumer information and advice.
COFEK provides consumers with an overview of complex product markets and help them to understand complex market conditions. We also identify health and environmental aspects that may influence purchasing decisions. Our consultation focuses on legal questions concerning the relationship between businesses and private consumers. We explain to consumers what their rights are and how they can enforce them.
2. How does COFEK and consumer centres finance themselves?
COFEK and the consumer centres are financed by income from membership, consultation fees and the sale of consumer advice guides. We are also in the process of requesting for support from independent development partners and private sector companies that meet our rigorous selection criteria as a “Consumer Compliant Verified”.
3. Which issues does COFEK and the consumer centres provide advice upon?
In our advice centres, we provide consultation on issues of consumer rights and decisions concerning how you can best use your money – for example in the area of contracts of sale and service agreements, false promises made by lottery organizations, authenticity of products and practitioners, the legitimacy of telecommunications and energy charges, the best pension plans, health insurance and other types of insurance, among others.
We provide advice on:
- Credit law, debtor arbitration and insolvency declaration
- Banking and investment
- Patients’ rights and health services
- Passenger rights
- Building finance
- Land issues
- Household, leisure, telecommunications, among others
4. Where is the nearest COFEK advice centre?
Detailed information including the address of the closest advice centre can be found on the website of the consumer centre in at your County headquarter town and or at all district headquarters. If not, please call our head office or write to:
5. Is it possible to get advice by telephone?
Telephone advice is offered at our head office and branches on our hotlines. Call us today. 0715555550 or 0733180008
6. Why do I have to pay for advice?
Due to the funding challenges, COFEK and its affiliate consumer centres are being forced to find an ever increasing amount of the funds they require. Only a part of our costs is covered by the consultation fees we charge. But for those who may not afford, we will offer our advice without charging any fees
7. Is the advice I get really independent?
COFEK and its affiliate consumer centres are non-partisan, independent and non-profit chapters of COFEK. The work of the consumer centres is not guided by any commercial interest and our advice is therefore exclusively in the interest of the consumer.
8. What are the core tasks of COFEK and its consumer centres?
- Prosecute legal infringements by means of written warnings and legal actions
- Represent and present consumer interests at the local authority, parliamentary level and other levels
- Inform the media and the public about important consumer issues
- Provide an overview of products and services
- Provide independent advice tailored to individual needs
- Conduct campaigns and organize projects and exhibitions relevant to areas of consumer interest
9. What has COFEK and the consumer centres achieved for consumers?
We were only registered on March 26, 2015. But COFEK and its affiliate consumer centres are working for consumers and in short time of operation, we have not only provided advice to hundreds of citizens but have also been responsible for a range of successful developments in the interest of the general public. We are a credible reference centre for the public and the media.
We have our 5-year strategic plan, COFEK and its affiliate consumer centres are already provides legal advice. We are also building our legal representation unit and we are glad to say that so far we have about 15 highly qualified lawyers who will be levying heavily discounted legal fees for our members.
10. What is the legal basis for the legal advice provided by COFEK?
According to our constitution, we are permitted to provide legal advice and extrajudicial legal aid. Our approach involves initially providing help for self-help and only acting directly as a prosecuting party in cases where the client has not been able to achieve a result. The first step is always an examination of the legal situation by the legal advice arm of the COFEK and our affiliate consumer centres. In addition, COFEK has the authority to proceed against improper competition and inadmissible terms of business in so far as consumers are directly affected by them.
11. What makes our services unique?
COFEK and its affiliate consumer centres advise and inform consumers in regard to their concrete problems. Consumer centre consultants deal with many inquiries and work on site in the areas of law and reclamation, nutrition, energy, products, loans, debts and retirement provisions. As a source of “help for self-help”, advice centres and consumer libraries provide access to the countrywide uniform information system that provides citizens with comprehensive, up-to-date and specific information on an exhaustive range of topics.
12. Can I become a COFEK member?
Yes! Our members receive free to subsidized rates for our range of services. Consumers can support our work by becoming sustaining members. Your membership will help us to continue offering a cost-effective and comprehensive consultation service, as well as helping us continue to represent the interests of the consumer vis-Ã -vis government authorities, policy-makers and business.
From now on, we are unlikely to be able to bring many important legal actions without the help of the contributions by our sustaining members.
When our work results in a more consumer-friendly formulation of general terms of business or the banning of improper competitive practices, then this is to the advantage of all consumers. You can find out how to become a member and the cost of membership by visiting filling our membership form from our head office or at the consumer centres.