JIS News

Tuesday, March 15 will be observed as World Consumer Rights Day, and to mark the occasion, the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) will be staging a discussion forum at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.
The event will be held under the theme: ‘The Consumer Protection Act/CARICOM Single Market and Economy. Empowering Jamaicans to Meet the Dynamic of a Changing Market.’
Racquel Chambers, Director of Research and Communication of the CAC, told JIS News that among issues to be discussed is the Consumer Protection Act 2004, which seeks to codify a number of existing laws and attach fines and other punishment for breaches. She noted that the law provided for the protection of consumers as well as the providers of goods and services.
Outlining some implications of the Act, she noted that Section 31 required vendors to honour delivery dates. In the event that they do not, and are unable to provide proof that such delays were as a result of a reasonable cause, and that steps were taken to prevent those delays, or to seek the customer’s agreement to a later delivery date, then the law requires that the customer be adequately compensated. Refusal to comply, Miss Chambers pointed out, could result in fines of up to $2 million or imprisonment of up to six months.
Touching on the increasingly popular habit of displaying prices in United States (US) dollars, the Director of Research and Communication said that with the changing exchange rate, consumers should be informed of how much the goods cost in Jamaican dollars.
“We’ve been having a number of cases where a number of businesses choose to quote the price of their products in US dollars, and .depending on what rate they choose to use that day, you are told X or Y price. By law, it says that the price information must be provided in Jamaican currency, so that the consumer knows off the bat, what they will be paying,” she pointed out.
Turning to other provisions of the Act, Miss Chambers told JIS News that Section 17 gave the Minister responsible for commerce, the power to recall unsafe goods. It also ensures that consumers are refunded monies spent procuring such goods and services.
Consumers must also be given information on the care, hazards and proper use of any equipment being purchased, Miss Chambers informed.
She further noted that Section 20 of the Act makes provision for the consumer to receive a proper receipt from the place of business. The receipt, she said, must display the vendor’s name, the company’s General Consumption Tax (GCT) number and address, a description of the goods purchased, the date on which the purchase was made, and any professional fees where applicable.
Miss Chambers noted that the Act also dealt with warranties, misleading conduct or claims, place of origin and condition of the goods.
World Consumer Rights Day is an international observation that recognizes eight fundamental rights of consumers. These are the right to safety, the right to satisfaction of basic needs, the right to information, the right to choose, the right to be heard, the right to redress, the right to consumer education and the right to live in a healthy and sustainable environment.