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JIS News

The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) last year, settled 89 per cent or 1,641 of the more than 1,800 complaints received and secured in excess of $46 million on behalf of aggrieved consumers.
Chief Executive Officer of the CAC, Dolsie Allen, who spoke to JIS News about what she said was a record breaking year, said that of the amount collected, $25 million or 56 per cent accounted for 52 claimants of substandard cement.
The amount, she said, far exceeded the $18 million and $17 million, which were collected in the two previous years. “We have seen steady increase in the compensation level”, she stated.
Meanwhile, the CEO said that there has been a reduction in the number of complaints, while more persons were calling the CAC for advice before making purchases. She credited the increase in consumer awareness to the Commission’s aggressive public education outreach programme.
Turning to the quasi-judicial tribunal or ‘mini court’, the CEO noted that for the calendar year 2006, there were 11 sittings dealing with 25 cases, of which 22 were resolved in favour of the consumer, one in favour of the vendor and two remain unresolved.
She explained that most of the cases, which were dealt with by the tribunal involved motor vehicle transactions especially in the used car industry, with vendors not honouring the terms of contracts.
In addition to resolving complaints, the CAC in 2006, conducted 35 price and availability surveys, which involved the ongoing monitoring of the petrol, grocery and textbooks industries. There were also surveys of agricultural, critical and hardware items during the hurricane season.
The surveys, Mrs. Allen stated, “provided a reference point to consumers in the event of a natural disaster.we could give an idea of what the prices were prior to that disaster”.
Turning to priorities for 2007, the CEO said that focus would continue to be placed on educating consumers about the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).
“We are aware that many consumers do not know the provisions of the Act and many vendors do not know their responsibilities or obligations under the CPA.so we will continue our education programme to sensitize the entire population on the provisions of this Act, which has far-reaching effects on how businesses operate in Jamaica today,” Mrs. Allen stated.
On another matter, the CEO informed that the Commission was planning a meeting with the promoters of a recent event, where the headline act failed to show and would be working with the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) to have the matter dealt with in an amicable manner.
She noted that the incident could be viewed as a breach of contract as the consumers did not receive the service or product for which they paid.
Mrs. Allen took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of a receipt and advised consumers that, “once you are spending your money you need to ensure that you obtain a receipt and that you get what you paid for. We are asking persons to be a little more vigilant and ensure that their rights are not trampled on”.
The CAC is mandated with the responsibility of protecting all consumers and is empowered under the CPA to promote and defend the public’s interest against any unreasonable risks, which may threaten the safety, health and life of the consumer.To report any injustice or unfair treatment, call the CAC at 926-1650-2 or visit the agency’s website at www.consumeraffairsjamaica.gov.jm.