Feature
Communications Specialist at the Consumer Affairs Commission, Dorothy Campbell, addresses a JIS ‘Think Tank’.
Photo: Dave Reid

Story Highlights

  • The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) is encouraging shoppers to understand and be aware of their basic rights while conducting their business during the Yuletide season.
  • Communications Specialist at the CAC, Dorothy Campbell, tells JIS News that it is very important for consumers to understand that within their own transactions, whether small or large, they have specific rights.
  • “If, for instance, they have a dispute with a vendor, they have a right to be heard, not to be boisterous and not to be obnoxious, but a right to be heard… to state clearly what is wrong with the transaction and what your expectations are,” she says.

The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) is encouraging shoppers to understand and be aware of their basic rights while conducting their business during the Yuletide season.

Communications Specialist at the CAC, Dorothy Campbell, tells JIS News that it is very important for consumers to understand that within their own transactions, whether small or large, they have specific rights.

“If, for instance, they have a dispute with a vendor, they have a right to be heard, not to be boisterous and not to be obnoxious, but a right to be heard… to state clearly what is wrong with the transaction and what your expectations are,” she says.

“You have a right to safe and non-hazardous goods. So, if you buy an item, such as a toy for Christmas for a child and it has sharp edges or things falling off, or the batteries are exposed, you have a right to take it back to the store and exchange it or get your money back,” she adds.

Ms. Campbell further notes that consumers have a right to safe foods, adding that consumers should always check for the expiry dates.

“So, for instance, if you notice that the expiry date on the food is gone and is still on the shelf and you accidentally bought it, you need to take it back, show it to the vendor and say this is expired and I need my money back, because we are not supposed to consume expired food,” she advises.

“There are basic rights within a transactional framework, where the consumers’ responsibility is to educate themselves and take action,” she says.

Ms. Campbell notes that the CAC ensures that consumers’ rights are protected by education, redress and by research.

“We research the marketplace, we do market surveillance through pricing of foods, petrol, hardware and other entities as the Minister or the market may demand for us to do. These are some of the ways we seek to protect the consumer and when the rights of the consumer has been breached, they can come to the CAC and we will investigate on their behalf to seek compensation, refund or a repair of the item,” Ms. Campbell says.

Regarding the many promotional deals that may be on the market at this time of the year, the Communications Specialist tells JIS News that persons should always do their due diligence before purchasing an item.

“So, if you are getting a deal and you are buying a refrigerator, ensure that you understand what the deal is… and with your smartphone, you can do a search, find out the brand name, where it is coming from, what are the reviews from other consumers, and what they say about the brand. Then you go into the store, find out what the warranty is, get a written warranty on those appliances and ensure that [the product] is tested,” Ms. Campbell says.

On the matter of motor vehicles, the CAC is encouraging consumers to take special care before making a purchase.

Ms. Campbell stressed that persons should not sign any document or undertake any transactions without viewing the motor vehicle first.

“Do not go from a picture on a laptop and say this is the car I want and purchase it because of how shiny it looks on the screen. Ensure that you take a mechanic and test drive the vehicle. Find out from the vendor if it is a used car, has it ever been in an accident and what kind of accident; has it been repaired and what is the warranty on the parts and labour, and get that written down before you pay down on any car,” she said.

“Do not listen to the sales pitch that this is the only one on the lot… that is never true. So, we are saying to consumers, while you are busy shopping out there, make sure that you stay calm and do your due diligence,” Ms. Campbell adds.

Meanwhile, if persons would like to file a complaint to the CAC, they may do so by sending an email to info@cac.gov.jm or call the switchboard at 876-906-5425.

Individuals may also visit any of the CAC offices located at 34 Trafalgar Road, Kingston 10; 30 Market Street, Montego Bay, St. James or the RADA Office, 28 Caledonia Road, Mandeville, Manchester.

The CAC is a government agency under the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries, whose role is to enforce the Consumer Protection Act 2005 (Amended 2012) and a range of additional legislation, promoting competition and fair trading, for the benefit of all Jamaicans.

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