The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) secured over $14 million on behalf of aggrieved consumers during the 2012/13 financial year, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dolsie Allen, has disclosed.
In an interview with JIS News, Mrs. Allen said that the sum was for the settlement of 1,607 of 1,782 complaints received, representing a 90 per cent resolution rate.
She noted that the most frequent complaints filed were in the categories of electrical equipment and appliances, accounting for 30 per cent of the total and utilities, representing close to 11 per cent.
As it relates to electrical equipment and appliances, the CEO urged persons to be mindful of illegitimate vendors selling substandard products.
“One of the problems is that persons buy from vendors that are not really established and there is a challenge in terms of getting redress…so we are encouraging persons that whenever possible, check the appliance before you leave the store or point of purchase to ensure that the item is working and if possible, get somebody to go with you who might be knowledgeable about these items,” Mrs. Allen advised.
She added that consumers need to ask relevant questions especially as it relates to the warranty, exchange and return policies of vendors, which are all critical when consumers seek some form of redress.
“Once you are purchasing items especially electrical appliances and gadgets or any high value product, you must ensure that you have your warranty document in place. If it is not given to you, ask for it and ensure to get it in writing, whether it is noted on your receipt or a separate document,” Mrs. Allen advised.
She noted that if this is not provided, the CAC, through the Consumer Protection Act, can impose a six-month warranty period.
According to Mrs. Allen, the purchase of motor vehicles is another category, which continues to be of great concern to the CAC, with over 80 complaints still outstanding for the past financial year.
“We are encouraging persons that whenever you are purchasing a motor vehicle, you do all the due diligence and try to get all the information you possibly can, including the model and year of the vehicle,” she stated.
The CEO urged consumers to be more responsible in their purchasing decisions, especially on high value investments such as motor vehicles and stressed the need for a certified or experienced mechanic to be present during the time of transaction and/or purchase, to assess the vehicle and identify any existing problems or defects.
In terms of outreach and public education initiatives, the CAC was involved in some 314 activities islandwide, directly reaching over 74,000 persons for the period under review.
The CAC has pledged its commitment to keep consumers informed about their rights and responsibilities and assist them in obtaining redress when necessary.
The CAC is the national agency responsible for consumer advocacy. It was established to promote fair and honest business practices, by investigating alleged violations of consumer protection laws, taking legal action to stop unfair or deceptive practices in the marketplace, and educating consumers and businesses regarding their respective rights and obligations.
For further information on consumer-related issues or queries, persons may contact the CAC at 978-4998, or visit their website: www.cac.gov.jm or facebook page, www.facebook.com/cac.gov.jm.
Contact: Kadian Brown