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The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) is looking to restructure its services and upgrade its human resource capacity, to enable more timely response to consumer complaints.
As stated in a Ministry Paper tabled in the House of Representatives recently by Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, the move is part of a number of measures to be undertaken by the agency this fiscal year as it seeks to strengthen the services offered.
Other imperatives for 2010/11 include the development of a consumer advocacy kit for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations and the producing and airing of messages to reach at least 1.6 million consumers. The print and electronic media will be utilised in the dissemination of messages.
The CAC is also seeking to strengthen the consumer protection policies in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, by reinforcing the capacity of NGOs and government agencies to champion the rights of consumers, particularly within the banking and credit sectors.
“The implementation of the project, which will be jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank/Consumer International, is scheduled to last for three years. The coordinator will be housed at the offices of the CAC,” the report stated.
The CAC, in the meantime, is aiming to resolve at least 85 per cent of complaints received within 10 working days for the 2010/11 financial year.
For 2009/10, the agency settled 2,030 cases or 87 per cent of the 2,324 complaints received from consumers. The four categories with the highest complaints were appliances and electronics accounting for 654 complaints; utilities, 255 cases; other services, 252 cases; and automotive, 238 cases.
A total of $23.8 million was secured on behalf of aggrieved customers, comprising rebates, refunds, payments and compensation. The automotive category accounted for $15.6 million of all compensation/refund.
“Advice to consumers totalled 2,332 for the period under review. The requests were mainly for guidance before committing to the purchase of an item or any other business transaction. There were also requests from vendors, who consulted with the Commission before taking action or making offers of redress to customers. The total consumer contracts for the fiscal year were 4,656,” the Ministry Paper stated.
The CAC, an agency of the Government of Jamaica, is dedicated to protecting the interests of consumers through education programmes, complaints resolution, and corporate services and affiliations.