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CAC Expanding Its Reach In Consumer Education


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January 2022
 

Chief Executive Officer Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) Dolsie Allen, at a recent Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank in Kingston.

Above Body

 05 Jan 2022    admin   

The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) in 2022, will continue to inform, educate and empower consumers, so that they will be better able to protect themselves in the marketplace.

Speaking at a JIS Think Tank, Chief Executive Officer of the CAC Dolsie Allen, says special focus will be placed on consumers and the producers.

“In terms of consumer education, we are targeting the providers for the coming financial year…we’re going to be very intentional about our approach,” Mrs. Allen says.

“We believe if we can have our vendors a little more educated about what their responsibilities are to consumers, and also what their rights are, I think we can reduce significantly, the types of conflicts that we have, or disputes that we have in the marketplace,” she adds.

The CEO informs that the CAC will be having quarterly sessions which will be used to engage both the consumers and providers of goods and services.

“[This is] to see how best we can interact, how best we can share what is happening, because in the marketplace both parties are significantly important. You know, we can’t have a market without consumers, neither can we have one without the providers of goods and services. So that type of partnership is what we really are going to be promoting in the new financial year,” Mrs. Allen states.

She further states that efforts will be made to share with both the providers and consumers, the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act.

The Act provides for the promotion and protection of consumer interest, in relation to the supply of goods and the provision of services, to ensure protection of life, health and safety of consumers.

It also facilitates the establishment of a Consumer Affairs Commission.

“We are going to be doing some advocacy as well, because even though some things may not be a breach of the Consumer Protection Act, there are some good practices that we’d want to see our vendors adopting as we go forward,” Mrs. Allen states.

In terms of complaints resolution, the CEO tells JIS News that over the years, the CAC has on average, an 85 per cent resolution rate. Mrs. Allen, however, notes that the Agency would like to see that move to a 100 per cent.

She says the CAC will be having dialogue with, for example, the small claims court to see how much of that 15 per cent it can assist in resolving amicably.

“We are going to be having some discussions with the municipalities across the island to see…those companies that are licensed, how we can reach out to them, … that some contact is made with the CAC to see how…they have been performing in the marketplace, how they have been handling their complaints, and so on,” Mrs. Allen says.

Regarding shopping online, the CEO says the CAC will be looking at the different legislations to see if there are any gaps, and make recommendations where necessary to the policymakers to see how best those gaps can be plugged.

“We are going to look at some of the pitfalls that consumers find themselves in when they are shopping online. So, we are going to be doing some surveys to see how best we can get the information, to see what is it that you’re doing as you shop online, and when we get our results, we will be able to produce some communication tools as to how you can assist,” Mrs. Allen says.

“We are planning really and doing what is called a guide as to how you shop online. So, it will be a benefit not just to our consumers, but also to businesses. So that is one of the plans that we have for the new financial year,” she adds.

Meanwhile, consumers are being encouraged to contact the CAC, especially if they have any challenges.

“In terms of the high prices, for example, we get a lot of complaints, and that is what has consumed most of our consumers. We all go to supermarket; we all know that there have been increases in prices. But we have been looking at price gouging, people mentioned price gouging, we have been doing our investigations. Just recently, we had a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce, just to see how best we can work together to minimise those types of excessive increases that we see on the market from time to time,” Mrs. Allen says.

The CAC has secured over $14.7 million in compensation on behalf of aggrieved consumers for the period April to November 2021.

Mrs. Allen tells JIS News that the top categories for which funds were recovered are: electrical equipment and appliances, $4.7 million; automotive, $4.08 million; and furniture $1.3 million.

She indicates that 1,352 complaints were filed during the period, of which 734 were successfully resolved, giving the agency a 54 per cent resolution rate.

Source: JIS

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