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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Top Firms Team Up to Create Consumer Telephone Hot Line

A group of leading companies has set up a Russian-language hot line to advise customers what to do if they find they have bought shoddy goods packaged as top consumer brands.

"The idea behind the hot line is to guide our customers in their consumer rights," said hot line director Yelena Poluektova at a news conference Tuesday. "Although there has been a law on consumer rights protection since 1992 it turns out very many people have no knowledge of their rights."

The hot line is sponsored by the Brand Protection Group, which includes Nestl?, Procter&Gamble, Philip Morris, Unilever and Georgian Glass & Mineral Water (Borjomi).

The line was created with support from the International Confederation of Consumer Societies and the Economic Development and Trade Ministry as a free advisory service for residents of Moscow and the region.

It operates from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday at 787-4019 except holidays.

Already two weeks running, the hot line gets at least 30 phone calls a day from concerned customers.

The breakdown is 50 percent pensioners, 30 percent people with an average income, 12 percent housewives and 8 percent young men.

The biggest category of complaints (44 percent) is food products, followed by cosmetic products (15 percent). Six percent of complaints are about alcohol.

The majority — 95 percent — of defective goods were purchased at either market stalls or kiosks, and the remainder from stores.

According to a Deloitte & Touche report issued in the spring, fake goods account for up to 60 percent of sales in some categories.

Losses from the sale of bootleg products of 22 brands carried by 12 Brand Protection Group member companies amounted to $473 million last year.

The state lost $174 million in unpaid taxes.