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The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) is emphasising the need for consumers to exercise caution when purchasing used vehicles, as this is the area where the Commission has received a significant number of complaints.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on October 29, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the CAC, Mrs. Dolsie Allen, informed that for the first half of the financial year (April to September), the Commission secured in excess of $12.9 million on behalf of aggrieved consumers, of which $9.2 million or 71 per cent was for refunds and compensation related to motor vehicles.
For the period, the CAC resolved 916 of the 1,093 complaints received, with motor vehicles being the second highest category in which complaints were received, electrical and appliances being the highest category, and utilities coming in third.
Mrs. Allen cautioned consumers to be more responsible in their purchase decisions, especially with high value investments, such as motor vehicles.
“Persons are not vigilant when they go shopping for motor vehicles, especially now when the market is so soft. Persons are trying to get deals, so they tend to be too relaxed and due diligence is not taken too seriously,” she pointed out.
The CEO also stressed the need for individuals to ensure that they secure the services of a certified or experienced mechanic to examine vehicles and check for defects or any other existing problem, before purchasing the unit.
She further advised consumers to shop around. “Go to several car marts and check out the prices, the type of vehicle, and most importantly, the terms and conditions of the contract, before you make a purchase,” she advised.
For other purchases, Mrs. Allen is encouraging consumers to go armed with information about products being purchased, to demand a proper receipt and to insist on warranties.
Receipts, the CEO said, are proof that an item was purchased and the provision of receipts is also critical if a consumer needs to seek redress.
The receipt, she noted further, should have certain basic requirements, including the amount paid, date of purchase and description of goods purchased.
She noted that there has been a reduction in the number of complaints coming into the Commission and an increase in calls from persons seeking advice.
The CEO added that more vendors, business persons, and store owners are calling the CAC for advice on how to treat with certain situations, or for reminders on the rights of consumers, and their responsibility as a provider.
“We are saying to persons, it is your right as a consumer to seek redress and we ask that persons do not just go home and complain to friends and family, but take action, so that you can get proper redress,” the CEO advised.
“Let us demand service from vendors, as it will force those who are not yet compliant to adhere to standards,” she added.
The CAC is an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, whose mandate include educating and sensitising Jamaicans on their rights and obligations in their capacity as consumers; as well as to provide them with useful information that they can utilise in their daily activities at home, school, work, or in the marketplace; and to resolve complaints filed by consumers against providers of goods and services.

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