Deregulation continues: the Ministry of Economic Development proposes to cancel the book of complaints, consumers are against it. 

Each of the parties of the discussion has its own arguments. The book of complaints (reviews) and suggestions, “is such a sad, paper, gray book, which every institution, that works with consumers must keep. The tool is absolutely useless – a living monument to the planned economy, in the times of which the state ‘helped economic entities to serve the population,” Oleksii Honcharuk, the head of the BRDO, writes on his FB. “At the first glance, that is not a big deal, because this ‘pleasure’ cost an entrepreneur only a couple of hundred hryvnias a year. But if you take into account, that there are over 200 000 of such entrepreneurs in Ukraine, then it is a fair amount of money. And if you look further, at the amount of such a ‘trifles’ in each of the spheres of control – here you have to keep a book, and there to fill in a register, or even give coupons – then you begin to understand why a few years ago deregulation was one of the most sought-after reforms in Ukraine. Of course, this rudiment should be canceled.

Together with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine, we have already devised draft regulations and will try to agree with the government in order to bring it to the deregulation meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in October.
It’s time to create a complete consumer care and after-sale management systems, and not simulate consumers’ rights protection.
The country is changing, getting rid of regulatory Soviet records. Everything will be fine. Do not switch.”

This initiative was supported by businessmen and by great admirers of the digitalization of our life, the liberalization of the economy and total deregulation. In particular, Ihor Diadiura, who works as the head of the department of the regional network of one of the payment systems, told how much time he has to spend to provide all branches of the chain with the books of complaints – the time to buy books, to number them, etc. According to him, consumers regularly steal those books, and almost every six months he has to buy new ones. Mr. Ihor strongly supports the idea of the withdrawal of the complaints book: “It’s a great news. The book of complaints, the Soviet invention of 1926, the clueless essence in the era of the Internet, contact centers and Customer Relationship Management, confidently moves along the route of the payment transactions recorders”.

Poor entrepreneurs… 200 hryvnias for some kind of a book. Although… There are a lot of offers online for 50 hryvnias, and for 20, and even 6.70. So… What are the systems of consumer care and after-sale management? Is there any Ukrainian translation of this wonderful system? Maybe at first, they should be developed for our realities, adapted, and maybe only after that the “imitation of consumer rights” should be withdrawn? These issues somehow remained in limbo, although I’m not the only one, who is interested in it.

Complained then fired
What do the opponents of Oleksii write on his post? If you omit jeering and subjective evaluation (“bosh”,  “nonsense”, “absurd”) of BRDO and Co initiatives, then the experience of users, who actively use this tool to fight for their rights and a few issues on which Honcharuk and his team were not able to give the answer. Here are some examples:

Ivan Honta: “I have left complaints at Ashan, and got reactions. It is convenient for people without “digital” skills. In addition, there is no law, that forces a citizen to have electronic communications to interact with the state or business entities.

One thing is to provide electronic alternatives, the other one – to cancel the paper ones.

Pavlo Dragobetskij: “I complained to ‘Nova Poshta’, because one operator, in contrary to their rules, was ‘teaching’ consumers. Looking over the book of complaints, I saw, that I was not the first such a client, as I noted in the call to the hotline. She was fired.
Also complained about the fact, that sellers close the trading point 15 minutes before 6 p.m. It worked.
2 and a half hours ago, the request to the head of the Ukrposhta branch to give me a complaint book changed the conversation from the tone ‘leave your phone, we will look for the letter’ to the fact, that all the office workers started looking for and found the letter in 4 minutes.

If you propose a stable customer complaint service website with BankId / EDS authorization with a public array instead of a paper book of complaints, so please, go ahead. If you suggest all such violations to be transferred to court then so go ahead…”

Oleksandr Rudomanov: “… ho-ho. The train Rakhiv-Lviv, 2016, probably July (I can’t remember the exact date). It’s cold, +8 in the car, which, in case of a check by the authorities or solely a complaint to the hotline, can’t be checked. At the request, to change the car I got just a brush-off. After the request to provide a book of complaints of passengers – they began to transfer us to a warm car.
318th train, summer 2017. An appeal to turn on ventilation, I got a refusal. An appeal to provide a book of complaints – ventilation is turned on.”

To be objective, I will mention that there were cases when the appeal to the book of complaints did not work.

The word is mightier than the sword

The biggest discussion was around the question: “With what will the book be replaced?”. BRDO staff offer to use the newly created portal “Electronic Citizens’ Appeal”. But do not specify, that this portal is currently in the test mode. As well as that there is no way to track the fate of the appeal, and also the fact, that this tool is not backed up by law. “What kind of a damn instrument is this? Is there a tracking of previous appeals? There is 100% unambiguousness of the institution, which is guaranteed by the book of complaints, without blind spots ‘we could not found out what kind of institution you are complaining / we have a mistake in the database?’” Pavlo Dragobetskij writes about this portal.

Also, the opponents of the cancellation of the book of complain state, that the record in it is evidence of a violation for the police and control authorities.
Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Maksym Nefyodov, on my question about what is planned to replace the book of complaints, replied as follows: “We do not plan to replace it with anything. This is the rudiment of the times of the planned economy and the 19th century. Even discussing the need for a stitched notebook in a special corner is somehow embarrassing…”

Moreover, Mr. Nefyodov does not consider it necessary to listen to the opponents of the idea of canceling the book: “all of this is a ‘raid’ by two strange FB groups, it is easy to trace… populists views elsewhere. I have been on the Internet for a long time so the organized trolling of two FB groups doesn’t influence me.”

“Strange” in the opinion of Mr. Maxym groups ‘will understand it anyway’ and ‘For Ukraine free of tobacco smoke’. One of them is struggling for the right of Ukrainians to receive services in the state language, and the second is for the right to breathe clean air. Participants of those groups belong to that small population stratum, which is ready for active actions. That small stratum, which, by the way, supports most of the initiatives of the same Nefyodov. For many participants in the discussion, such neglect of the iconic figure of Ukrainian reforms has echoed. And another simple test shows that among the commentators there are many people who do not belong to these two communities.

We have the law but have no protection
Already mentioned above Ihor Diadiura believes, that consumer rights are already well protected in the specialized law, and this is enough. But, for example, Pavlo Slavynsky denies: “Whenever a problem cannot be resolved locally, the police should be called and a protocol should be filled? Or everything should be sent by the recommended letters?

And with regard to the law itself, it may be good, but it has one drawback: it does not have a mechanism for implementing all the wonderful rights granted by this act to all of us. Moreover, a specialized body that has to protect citizens in this area has twice been subjected to a moratorium on its activities for the last four years. And only under pressure from the public a part of the powers the State service of Ukraine for food safety and consumer protection service was returned. The detail of the reforming (unification with others) process of this service and its consequences is a separate topic.

At the end, it should be noted, that the discussion about the book of complaints is just the tip of the big iceberg, the name of which is “The system of state control”. This system is almost destroyed now. Although it must be admitted, that its destruction was not started yesterday, but at least ten years ago. In recent years, the destruction of this control is under the guise of business protection. Yes, a business must be protected. But not to the detriment of consumers. Well with that, responding to the initiators of the cancellation of the book, Roman Holovenko said: “You perceive the state as an absolute evil, and the whole business is white and clean. But in fact, both have approximately the same stuffing. Therefore, sometimes it is necessary to protect a citizen or business from the state and sometimes to protect a citizen from an unscrupulous business.”

So the question is: how to restore or rebuild an effective system of control in our state. But this is the subject of a separate article.

By Oleksa Lystopad

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