The Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission (CCAC) is warning buyers to properly read the contracts provided by their suppliers before signing.
In this week’s edition of FOCUS, Consumer Affairs Officer Rosante Perry noted that it is sometimes difficult to represent consumers since they would have already signed onto agreements that include unfair clauses.
“Be careful of what it is you are signing,” she said adding that “most times these suppliers have these details in the contracts. Whether it is you will be paid in two months or three months. So because the consumers sign onto it, then they are legally bound.”
Perry was at the time responding to questions relating to Akbar Auto Sales) who issues cheques for refund which are valid three months into the future. She said the customer’s signature shows their approval of those conditions within the contract thereby making it more difficult for the CCAC to address their complaints.
As such, she warned “do not sign incomplete contracts, do not sign blank contracts because it gives the suppliers a hedge over them to now insert these unfair conditions.”
The CCAC operates under the Competition and Fair Trading Act and the Consumer Affairs Act with a mandate to ensure that consumers are protected while providing a legal framework for businesses to operate.
In order to further protect consumers, the agency in collaboration with the Ministries of Legal Affairs and Tourism, Industry and Commerce has drafted a Hire Purchase Bill.
Perry noted that the Bill once passed into laws will protect consumers from unfair conditions.
She explained that one of the main things in the bill is that it protects consumers who have paid a large sum of money for an item, from immediate repossession.
“The act provides for those consumers to negotiate with the supplier and be given an extended time. It also protects the consumer in a sense that, usually the dealers would just have people go and repossess the vehicle, that is unlawful in the new bill,” the Consumer Officer noted.
Meanwhile, as it relates to other products and services, citizens need to know their rights which include the right to a refund and exchange. This is in direct relation to the sign ‘No refund’ or ‘No return’ placed at the front of businesses.
Based on the Consumer Affairs Act, a consumer has seven days to return an item in its original packaging and it must be unused and not tampered with. The consumer is eligible to have that item exchanged or they can have their monies refunded.
However, if the consumer would like the refund, they are eligible to 90% of that money back. The supplier can retain a 10% restocking fee.
“Be assertive, demand your rights” she urged. The CCAC can be contacted on 219-4410.