Yeghoyan is sure that the consumers are
passive in protecting their rights.
When Anahit Soghomonyan returned to her Yerevan
neighborhood food store with a box of soured milk
and demanding a refund, the response she got was:
"Is it worth making so much noise because
of 300 drams, lady? You'd better buy a fresh one,
we just got it".
"First I demanded that they call the manager,
but the sellers were exchanging whispers indifferently
and were looking at me. They never understood
that the reason is not the 300 drams but the insult
of being cheated, and the protection of my rights,"
says Soghomonyan. "It took me about two and
a half hours to be able to at least take the money
back, and it only happened because the sellers
were tired of my presence."
The President of the Union of Consumer Rights
Armen Poghosyan is sure that if in some cases
the rights of the consumers are often being violated
in Armenia, in other aspects the consumers are
passive in protecting their own rights.
Chief sanitary doctor of the Republic Vladimir
Davidyants says that time after time they admonish
people to be careful when they're buying food
products, but their words stay hanging in the
"They're selling meat and cheese of unknown
origin in the street and people buy it since they're
unaware, they have no idea of what they're buying,
what choice they're making," says Davidyants.
"They can get tuberculosis, anthrax, brucellosis
and anything else, but still they buy things from
the same place. Many say it's because of bad social
conditions that people buy cheap and bad quality
products, but the awareness of people has to be
high enough for them to realize the damage they
can cause to their health by a 50 drams (about
nine cents) difference."
"Besides the social factor, the consumer
today is unaware of his rights," says Poghosyan.
"While buying products very few look at the
shelf life, the composition and the information
about the manufacturer."
Poghosyan assures that regular research into
the issue does not raise consumer-rights activists'
"Mainly we examine those products that are
being sold at cheap stores, since they are more
likely to be of bad quality and dangerous,"
says Poghosyan. "As a result over 70 percent
of the products have various types of dangerous
deviations such as wrong inscriptions, wrong storage
conditions, expired shelf life. However, those
products remain there and the consumers each time
cause considerable harm to their health."
Abgar Yeghoyan, president of the Union for the
Protection of Consumers' Rights says products
with expired shelf life are a usual phenomenon
in stores of Armenia.
"Recently, I went into a store where they
were selling some food in boxes called Vietnamese
breakfast and its shelf life has expired two years
ago," says Yeghoyan. "An unaware child
may buy that product and the result can be disastrous."
According to Yeghoyan a significant part of products
imported into Armenia do not correspond to safety
standards and are a threat to the health of society.
Yeghoyan says that beginning April of this year
five organizations protecting consumer rights
have formed a coalition, as a result of which
occasional monitoring is being held in Yerevan
and Lori and Vayots Dzor regions.
"As a result of that, out of 34 products
in Armenia, 19 had intestinal bacillus, "
Yeghoyan says. "Those microbes do not exist
in food products by themselves; they initially
appear in case of absence of sanitary and hygienic
conditions, while the given product is being produced."
70 percent of the products sold in cheap
stores have various types of dangerous deviations
and expired shelf life.
Yeghoyan says that the majority of products were
imported mainly from Turkey or Iran.
"I cannot say whether they were among products
of such origin on purpose or not," says Yeghoyan.
"But it is certain that they are a big threat
and each day they harm many people."
According to specialists on consumer rights protection
one of the main reasons for poor control of food
products is a lack of legislation. The majority
of such products are imported into Armenia through
Bagratashen or through markets bordering Meghri
without being checked. According to current law
up to 50 kilos and a value of $500 may be brought
into the country without an inspection certificate.
Yeghoyan says that if there were a correspondence
certificate, it would become possible to find
the importer who brings in all the dangerous products
and also it would become possible to find the
source and create safety precautions.
However, according to him in Armenia there is
no structure of confiscating expired and dangerous
And if an organization or even the government
finds something dangerous, there's nothing they
can do and everything mainly remains in its place.
In the best case a seller can be fined for selling
low quality products or he can be told not to
sell here and afterwards the same product will
be sold somewhere else and that's it. In this
case it turns out to be advantageous for certain
people who import cheap expired products and sell
them here with normal prices and no obstacles.
"In such cases the state can do nothing
and doesn't have any desire to. In many cases
we can see the pride with which tax services destroy
several boxes of cigarettes with no excise, or
break vodka bottles, however low quality foodstuff,
that can cause serious damage, is out of this
struggle," says Yeghoyan.
"I don't know my rights," says Yerevan
resident Laura Harutyunyan. "I don't know
what I can do to be protected and to protect my
family members. I don't know what I should pay
attention to while choosing products not to buy
low quality or fake production. Who should I demand
my rights of?"