Provide better services, products to consumers – CCAC urges businesses

Georgetown, GINA, July 8, 2016

Business enterprises that provide services and products to consumers will face the full arm of the law if they are found to be in breach of the Consumer Affairs Act 2011.

The Consumer Affairs Unit of the Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission (CCAC) is stressing the need for full compliance by businesses that are involved in unfair trade practices.

The Consumer Affairs Act sets out that registered businesses have a right to provide the necessary information that will help a consumer make the right decision when paying for a product or service. The Act promotes and protects consumers’ interest in relation to the supply of goods and services, and for related purposes.

The Consumer Affairs Unit has observed a number of areas where enterprises have been in breach of the 2011 Act. Head of the Unit,  Haroon Khan identified the primary areas, as the sale of defective items, unfair contract terms and unfair trade practices.

He noted that suppliers and enterprises need to desist from the sale of defective items which is a practice where a supplier may sell goods or services which are either expired, not working or generally incompetent  of serving their purpose.

Enterprises should ensure that durable goods and services are continually updated, renewed and restocked so as to provide a more efficient item to consumers.

Khan explained that, “If a product is deemed defective, firstly the business is asked to repair or replace the product. If they can’t repair or replace it, they are asked to provide a complete refund to the consumer because failure to adhere to the act, they are penalties of up to one year imprisonment and one million Guyana dollars in fine.”

Unfair contract terms speak to the practice of businesses creating contracts that are only in favour of the enterprise. This puts the consumer at “a severe disadvantage” when making decisions for purchases.

Unfair trade practices are primarily misleading and deceptive conduct where an enterprise may advertise and/or showcase details of a product or service that may not entirely be genuine thereby deceiving the consumer.

Director of the CCAC, Dawn Holder-Alert is pushing consumer awareness stating that, “an educated consumer is a smart consumer,” where they would be least likely to be caught in contraventions of the consumer affairs act.

The commission also urges business enterprises to “get their act together” since they are preparing to do a number of outreaches across the country that will sensitise the public on their rights as consumers. Target areas would be the hinterland, Linden and other areas beyond the coast where there have been a number of reported cases of contraventions of the Consumer Affairs Act.

The CCAC has an estimated success rate of 78 percent response to cases reported, especially in relation to the sale of defective items.