The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing virtual learning led to an increased demand for electronic items, but this seems to have also increased consumers’ vulnerability to deception.
The Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission (CCAC) which is responsible for ensuring consumers are protected under the laws of Guyana, has seen an increase in complaints against retailers of electronics.
According to Consumer Affairs Officer (ag) Rosante Perry, most complaints are associated with cellphones and tablets carrying defective handsets and refusal by suppliers to grant warranty.
“The highest category of complaints we receive are for the electronics industry and this is primarily due to the ease of accessibility of getting these products so it has definitely increased consumers’ vulnerability and thus they are prone to deceptive conduct,” she told Big Smith News Watch in an interview recently.
The second category on the list of complaints received by the agency are from the construction sector.
Since the CCAC launched its ‘Homebuilders roadmap’ in December 2020 to reduce scams and assist home builders, Perry said more persons are also approaching the agency to lodge complaints about contractors.
“A lot of the work is what we would call substandard or maybe the contractor did not complete the work or it was not completed to the consumer liking so we have to address it… In case of a complaint we had recently, a contractor was hired to complete a cupboard but the material used to build the cupboard was not to the consumer specification so we had to and advise the supplier accordingly,” she explained.
The CCAC operates under the Consumer Affairs Act and the Competition and Fair Trading Act. It addresses complaints for durable goods and services while providing a legal framework for businesses to operate.
In 2020, the agency received 464 complaints amounting to a total of $104M of which over 50% were resolved. As a result, consumers retrieved a total of $28,088,944.
So far for 2021, Perry noted that 125 complaints were received of which 38% were resolved.
To file a complaint with the CCAC, they can be reached at ccac.gov.gy or persons can visit their office located in the National Exhibition Site, Sophia, Georgetown. After filling a form, officers will ascertain that the CCAC has the authority to address their concern, attempt to negotiate a settlement with the supplier and if this is unsuccessful, it will go to the Board of the agency and possibly result in a lawsuit against the supplier.