THE Consumer Council of Fiji wants to assume the authority of the country's ombudsman.
This the council listed as one of its 13 recommendations in its report on the hire-purchase industry in Fiji.
"The State may consider extending the scope of legal authority of the Consumer Council in Fiji to become the financial ombudsman with decision making on consumer grievances about hire-purchase and other financial matters," the council report said.
The report, which followed a survey, was launched by Attorney-General and Minister for Industry and Trade Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum last week in Suva.
The council called for a new approach to address consumer financial grievances including those linked to banks and insurance.
"The State needs to pursue the matter of an independent financial commission and financial ombudsman," the council said.
The council found that close to half of respondents involved in the survey did not shop around for goods before shopping. Contributing to this were factors like time constraint and the fact that a majority of hire-purchase consumers were in the working class with many of them working on Saturdays, the council said.
"Such a reality makes advertising a powerful tool in influencing consumer behaviour," the council said.
The council said the exterior dÃ©cor of leading hire-purchase dealers was a powerful factor that ensured a sale when a customer entered the building.
"Many leading market company outlets are stylistically designed with aircondition comfort, creating a feel of being with the sophisticated part of society by shopping outlets," the council pointed out.