JIS News

Director of Research, Information and Communication at the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC), Raymond Pryce has pointed out that while price increases in construction materials, such as lumber and zinc, might take place, given the high demand at this time, the level of increases was critical.
He pointed out that the CAC would be calling on the Master Builders Association to assist in the monitoring of prices for such items, and to compare these with the association’s inventory of prices for building materials prior to Hurricane Ivan.
In an interview with JIS News, Mr. Pryce observed that there had been several instances of abnormal market behaviour by vendors after the hurricane, which occurred over two weeks ago. These activities include substantial increases or price gouging in basic consumer items, tied sales or the ‘marrying’ of goods, the sale of spoilt or sub-standard items, and hoarding.
“If consumers feel that they are being exploited, then the perception will last long after the ravages of Hurricane Ivan have passed,” he warned.
“A smart or savvy businessman or woman needs to understand that the restoration of consumer confidence could be the best thing for their business viability over the long haul,” the CAC Director added.
Pointing out that the consumers were the most powerful group in regulating a free market, he said that bad customer service could rob a supplier of his clients’ patronage.
He said that the CAC was aware that some complaints coming in to the organisation were from businesses, which claimed that their suppliers were acting in a manner that was “unconscionable”.
Mr. Pryce said the CAC, along with the Bureau of Standards, would continue the surveillance of the market over the next few weeks. The focus would not just be on established retail businesses, but also community and house shops as well as sidewalk vendors.
In the meantime, Mr. Pryce is urging consumers to be vigilant and to protect themselves by exercising sound judgement. “There is a lot of competition and if a vendor is giving poor service then the consumer must exercise his or her option of choice, as this is critical in restoring normal market activity,” he said.
Mr. Pryce is also encouraging consumers to call the CAC or the Bureau of Standards to report any market abnormality. Alternatively, persons may call any of the consumer hotline numbers that have been set up in the Ministry of Commerce to lodge their complaints. The numbers are: 929-0033-35 or 929-0050-51.