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Conning consumers - CAC forces companies to pull misleading Christmas ads

Published:Sunday | December 11, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Devon Watkis, assistant commissioner of police, and members of his team visit Coronation Market where Christmas shopping is expected to reach fever pitch by weekend.

Several companies have been asked to pull or adjust the advertisements they have put out in their effort to attract persons looking Christmas deals.

The watchdog Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) late last week confirmed that some ads were found to be misleading.

CAC boss Dolsie Allen refused to name the companies or identify the ads but said that some have already been pulled or edited because they were "too good to be true".

"There are a lot of offerings out there that are very shiny and pretty, and if it sounds too good to be true then quite often it is," Allen told The Sunday Gleaner.

She is urging Jamaican consumers to be mindful of their budgets and responsibilities when it comes on to the Christmas season.


"There is quite a thin line between deception and marketing and being creative. There are many times that we have to call persons and tell them that they need to adjust certain things. Most times we don't make a big issue out of it in the media," she said.

"One of the advertisements was telling customers to buy now and they won't pay GCT, and I said 'you can't do that; that is illegal'. If you say to them 'we will pay the GCT' for you, then that is a different thing than saying that they will pay no GCT," noted Allen.

"Say, for example, they are having a sale on glasses and they say it costs $3.99. In truth and in fact you may go there and find only one glass that is for $3.99, but it gives a totally different impression that the majority of the glasses are for $3.99," she continued.

Allen warned that while many stores are advertising sales for the Christmas season, if consumers are prudent enough to check the prices, they will realise that the items do not necessarily cost less than in previous months.

"We want the businesses to do well, but we really don't want them to do well at the ignorance of the consumer."

Allen also warned consumers to check their receipts before leaving the stores, and to enquire about the return policy at the entities where they shop.

She noted that receipts must give a description of the items, costs, the date of purchase, and the name of the establishment.

"Customers should also be mindful about warranties, especially for high-value items," warned Allen.


In the meantime, Inspector Dahlia Garrick, operations officer at the Corporate Communications Unit, is warning shoppers to be careful about divulging their personal information.

"We are asking persons to be very careful with information about their identity. We want them to verify all the persons with whom they are transacting business and to ensure that at all times their safety is in check," said Garrick.

"In addition, we are asking persons not to travel with large sums of cash, and if they have to, they need to take all the necessary precautions, especially with commercial transactions," added Garrick.

She noted that individuals can make arrangement to have members of the police force escort them while moving large volumes of cash.