Consumers urged to be vigilant while shopping

-demand receipts, six-month warranty

The Consumer and Competition Affairs Commission (CCAC) is urging the public to safeguard themselves from being duped when making purchases, particularly during the Christmas season.

CCAC Public Relations Officer, Ms. Allison Parker said while the law protects consumers, they too must know their rights and exercise vigilance while shopping.

“Stay safe with the COVID-19 but also stay safe with your money. If you are going to invest in an expensive item, do your research before, compare prices, compare brands, ensure that it is a proper brand that you are buying. Buy from a reputable agency,” she told DPI on Thursday.

While many persons shop for the Christmas season, Ms. Parker said most of the complaints reach the CCAC in January “when people recognise the brand wasn’t the right brand or it was defective.”  

She notes that there are simple guidelines that people can follow to safeguard themselves from fraud when making purchases.

“If you are going to buy a Smart device, ensure that your home is Smart-capable, ensure the area you live in is Smart-capable. If you are going to buy electronics, buy for the voltage at your home and in the area. These little, simple things we want you to check for because you may go home plug it in, it blows up or something, you have no recourse or redress to get because that is not the supplier’s fault, that is your fault,” she explained.

The law protects both the supplier and the consumer, and consumers must also be considerate when returning items purchased.

“If you’re going to buy an item, abuse it and then take it back to the store and expect the supplier to give you an exchange or refund, no it does not work like that,” Ms. Parker said.   

She highlighted that returns must be done within seven days, in the original packaging and almost in the same condition in which the item was purchased.

If the product is faulty, the supplier is allowed 14 days to do repairs. If the repairs are not complete within that timeframe, the supplier can provide the consumer with a replacement to use in the meantime.

With regard to receipts, Ms. Parker said consumers must demand their receipts as the Commission can only probe a query if there is proof of purchase.

“Just don’t get a receipt that says, (if you buy a sound system) ‘one sound system’, get some details, ‘One Sony, two speaker sound system,’ so there would not be any dispute in terms of the product that you actually purchase,” she said. 

She added that: “There are those rogue suppliers who would use your lapses. You do what you know is right. It should also have the price of the item; the date and the VAT [value-added tax] should be listed separately.”

The PRO also warns consumers to be wary of bargains, where the supplier “reduces the cost” by omitting the VAT, and does not issue a receipt.

These deals can sometimes cause the consumer to lose in the long-run, cheating both themselves and the national coffers.  “These are things in your power. You have more power than the supplier, exercise your power,” Ms. Parker said.

Additionally, Consumers Affairs Officer (Ag.) Ms. Rusante Perry said consumers should ask questions about warranty. Items have a standard six-month warranty and consumers have a right to demand this provision or can make their purchases elsewhere.

“One of the main categories of complaint that we receive at the Commission or in the unit specifically, is the return of defective goods that involves warranty. Stores are not offering warranty, they do not give you a receipt, but what do you do as a consumer? Do you leave without it or do you demand that a receipt be provided? What is the return policy? Ask these questions,” she said. Consumers can contact the Competition and Consumers Affairs Commission on telephone numbers 219-4410-13. They can also file complaints at is website ccac.gov.gy.

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