In a landmark decision, the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) recently found Aero Contractors airline negligent in its treatment of passengers scheduled to fly on its ticket on the Abuja-Lagos route. According to the CPC, Aero Contractors failed to take requisite steps to make its passengers comfortable and in fact abandoned them at the Abuja airport after cancelling Flight AJ 132 on November 8, 2013, which should have taken the concerned passengers to Lagos from Abuja on that day.
For this gross act of negligence, the CPC ordered Aero Contractors to pay N41, 000 to each of the passengers involved. The airline was also ordered to refund 25 per cent of each passenger’s ticket value, all in lieu of relief Aero should have provided during the delay and eventual cancellation of the flight and the passengers’ abandonment. This, the CPC said, is in line with the Passengers’ Bill of Rights enacted by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authorities (NCAA).
We commend passengers of Flight AJ 132 for not rolling over to take the shabby treatment from Aero Contractors as many citizens are wont to do under similar circumstance. It is quite proper that these citizens dragged Aero Contractors before the CPC to demand a redress, and stayed put until that agency of government acted on their case. The CPC also deserves praise for doing its job satisfactorily – coming to the defence of these aggrieved consumers and handing out the statutory retribution to the erring airline.
Many corporate organisations in the country, like Aero Contractors in this particular instance, appear to hold consumers of their products and services in derision, hence the poor treatment Nigerians often receive from them. No sector, we hasten to add, is immune from this poor corporate culture in the country, which has taken root largely because citizens do not press for their rights and regulatory agencies shirk their responsibilities to the consumer. It is time to stop this anomaly.
Consumers have a major role to play if the culture of impunity with which corporate organisations in the country treat them must change. We all should emulate the passengers of Flight AJ132 and make it a duty to petition the relevant authority concerned whenever we are short-changed by any corporate entity. Since it usually takes considerable time to dispense of such petitions, citizens must be patient enough to see their case against any errant establishment through, just as the passengers on Flight AJ132 did with Aero Contractors.
All regulatory authorities should take their cue from the CPC and come to the aid of consumers in the event that their rights are flagrantly abused. Government agencies and their numerous employees have to start doing their jobs. The consumer is still king.