And the winners are….. Last Wednesday, the winners of Premju Servizz bi Tbissima 2016 were announced during an award giving ceremony held at The Palace, Sliema. Smart Supermarket placed first, Pavi Supermarket second, and Pama Supermarket was awarded the third place. The company eCabs won the GRTU’s special award for the good service it offers to its customers. The ceremony was addressed by Dr Helena Dalli, Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties. Minister Dalli spoke about the importance that consumers are provided with a good quality service. She also emphasised the need to improve consumers’ shopping experience and highlighted the importance that local sellers offer their products and services online. Dr Dalli referred to the Consumer Market Scoreboard, which placed Malta among the top three European countries with regards to business and consumer affairs. She stated that this positive result shows that Maltese consumers are well informed about their rights and obligations and this gives them confidence when they make their buying decisions. MCCAA chairperson Ing. Helga Pizzuto, explained that the main objective of the Servizz bi Tbissima award is to encourage a better and stronger relationship between consumers and traders. She also spoke about the work the Office for Consumer Affairs is doing to encourage traders to adopt policies that give consumers more benefits than those established at law. A case in point is the Trust Mark scheme which was set up to facilitate the building of a good relationship, based on trust, between consumers and sellers. MCCAA Chair Helga Pizzuto also stressed on the importance of collaborating more with business entities such as the GRTU. Ms Joyce Borg, Director General Consumer Affairs, spoke on the work carried out by the Office for Consumer Affairs within the MCCAA. She explained that this Office, besides safeguarding consumers’ rights, also assists businesses in ensuring that they are aware of their legal responsibilities towards consumers. This is mainly done through regular meetings with the business community and also by offering training on consumer related legislation to businesses and their employees. In fact, the ten short listed companies announced during the Prize Giving Ceremony will be offered free of charge training on customer care and consumer related legislation. The 2016 winners of the Premju Servizz bi Tbissima were voted for by consumers who had the possibility to choose the seller or business they felt offered them a service with a smile. The voting questionnaire was available on the MCCAA’s facebook page and the MCCAA’s website. Consumers could vote for any business that sold products or services from its premises or online. Six customers selected at random from all those that participated in the voting process were awarded a €100 cash voucher. Consumers were presented with the cheques by Minister Helena Dalli during the Award Ceremony. The ten traders who received the majority of votes were vetted by a jury which had the responsibility to ensure that the nominated traders abided by the Award’s code of conduct. For instance, the jury verified that the nominated companies were adhering to all applicable regulations, that their business premises were accessible and safe, that prices in their retail outlets were indicated as per the Price Indication Regulations, that consumer complaints were dealt with in a timely manner and that when possible they avoided that disputes with consumers were referred to the Consumer Claims Tribunal by opting for resolution through mediation. Mystery shopping also played an important role in verifying if the nominees were adopting a customer friendly relationship. The MCCAA mystery shoppers also checked if the nominated companies adopted return policies that add and not diminish consumer rights. The third edition of Servizz bi Tbissima will be launched by the MCCAA in the coming months.