THE Consumer Council of Fiji registered 10,769 complaints worth $16.3million over the past five and a half years.
And it recovered $6.7m by solving 6816 complaints through mediation.
Council chief executive officer Premila Kumar said the cost of non-intervention would have been far more damaging to the consumers and businesses that trade fairly.
"Not all consumers can afford to take a dispute to court, considering the costs of legal proceedings," Mrs Kumar said yesterday.
The council, at the opening of the four-day mediation workshop at Novotel Hotel in Lami yesterday, aims to enhance the knowledge and skills of mediators from Small Claims Tribunal, Fiji Commerce Commission, legal practitioners and the council.
"Mediation is a useful tool to alternatively resolve disputes to save money and time."
This workshop is a collaboration with the judicial department and the Commerce Commission with funding from the European Union.
Chief Justice Anthony Gates said the judiciary had to be careful who it worked with and who it took money from.
"The improvement of our job skills, our professional expertise, is one area where assistance is correctly acceptable.
"We have found the dialogue with and positive criticism from the Consumer Council very helpful, focused, reasonable, and just," Justice Gates said.
He said new laws and new courts in the consumer field were in the pipeline and would bring about a healthier approach to consumer concerns.
"Eventually, awareness campaigns and education will change the old ways.
"It might have been thought that shopkeepers, bankers or manufacturers were always right, and the shopper was a foolhardy shopaholic ignoramus."
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