World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) is observed on March 15 annually to promote the basic rights of all consumers and to ensure that those rights are respected and protected.
The need for consumer protection in Jamaica has increased due to the presence of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). A surge in public demand for essential items including sanitisers, masks and disinfectants, has led to vendors charging exorbitant prices, this is known as price gouging.
To discourage the practice of price gouging, the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) approved the Trade (Sale of Goods during Period of Declaration of Disaster Area) Order 2020 in March 2020. The Order authorises the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) to investigate instances where there are unexplained rises in prices.
Rights of a Consumer
To stay informed, consumers should know their rights as listed below.
- The right to satisfaction of basic needs such as food, shelter, healthcare and public utilities.
- The right to safety and protection from hazardous goods and services.
- The right to be informed and protected against fraudulent, deceitful or misleading information.
- The right to choose and have access to a variety of products and services at fair and competitive prices.
- The right to be heard and to express and represent consumer interests in the making of economic and political decisions.
- The right to redress and to be compensated for misrepresentation, substandard goods or unsatisfactory services.
Example of a right being infringed:
Jane Doe buys a household blender from John Doe Haberdashery. She then takes home the blender and after one use, the blender stops working. Jane Doe complains to the haberdashery but was not compensated in either the form of repair, replacement or cash.
Right Infringed: The Right to Redress
Recommendation: Make a complaint to the CAC
Filing a Complaint
The most common categories of complaints are for issues with electrical equipment and appliances, utilities and other services. Between April 2020 and January 2021, 1,470 complaints were submitted to the CAC, revealing a little over 5% increase from the previous period.
When filing complaints, customers are encouraged to first report their dissatisfaction to their respective merchant. If the matter is not satisfactorily resolved, buyers can then file a complaint to the Complaints Department at the Consumer Affairs Commission. Customer complaints should include the name of merchant, nature of complaint and product description.
For further information, contact:
Consumer Affairs Commission
34 Trafalgar Road
Telephone: (876) 906-8568/ 619-4222
Toll Free: 1 888-991-4470