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THE smiles are broader these days in the corridors of the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) after its Protection Tribunal awarded a client $7.6 million, the largest-ever compensation granted by the watchdog body.
Consumer activist Vernon Derby, host of Nationwide Radio's At Your Service programme, reported the award on his Bark di Trute blog Friday, saying “this is an exciting story for consumers”, because “consumers oftentimes complain that they do not have an organisation to defend then”.
Sacha-Gaye Russell, legal Officer at the CAC, said the award was made as a result of the consumer entering into a contract with a used car dealership to purchase a vehicle for the sum $5.4 million.
Russell did not name the consumer or the used car dealership, saying only that numerous issues had occurred after the purchase which led the consumer to seek the assessment services of a motor loss adjusting and motor appraisal company.
“The loss adjustors concluded that the vehicle had met in a heavy collision in Japan, and sections of the vehicle were evidently refinished,” said Russell. “The consumer was also informed that there was an issue with the odometer reading, and that data trouble codes were observed in the vehicle's fault memory.
“The consumer placed the matter before the tribunal on August 19, 2020, and the ruling of the tribunal was given on October 22, 2021. The tribunal held that certain sections of the Consumer Protection Act were breached – Section 23 (damaged goods sold to consumer), Section 24 (return of defective goods) and Section 30 (false or misleading representation).
A breakdown of the award shows that the consumer received $5.4 million for the purchase price; $2.1 million for loss of use for 846 days; $62,500 for valuation cost and storage fees; and wrecker fee of $9,500.
It is possible under the law for the vendor to apply to the Supreme Court for a judicial review of the tribunal's decision. If the vendor is successful, the decision may be overturned.
But celebrating the occasion, Dolsie Allen, the CAC chief executive officer, said: “The right for effective redress is one of the most fundamental consumer rights. Quite often, consumers make high-value purchases like motor vehicles and think that there is no redress when something goes wrong.
“However, the CAC believes in value for money and in this instance we are satisfied that the ruling has enabled the consumer to get back their hard-earned money.”
Derby, who is a commissioner at the Consumer Affairs Commission, said the CAC over the years had received a small budget but had nevertheless used the media and its staff members to educate consumers about their rights.
“The organisation, while using the personal touch to reach consumers and to get their complaints, is now putting greater emphasis on using the technology to get a fair deal for consumers.”
He urged consumers to lend their support to the CAC for greater results.
Source: Jamaica Observer
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