Setting the record straight on CAC survey
THE EDITOR, Sir:
This seeks to clarify information presented in the letter, 'Consumer Affairs distorted facts', published in The Gleaner on Saturday, August 30, 2014.
The Annual School Textbook Price Survey 2014 conducted by the Consumer Affairs Commis-sion (CAC) is aimed at providing an overview of the prices and availability levels of the most popularly requested textbooks in the island.
With respect to the methodology used by the CAC, a list of texts to be surveyed is generated by identifying those which are most frequently requested for purchasing by teachers in both public and private institutions islandwide, and as approved by the Ministry of Education.
The CAC then attempts to contact all bookstores in Jamaica to participate in the survey. Data is collected only on observed prices which are then verified by store personnel. One statistic reported is the observed average price of a particular textbook, along with the variation observed.
In response to Mr Damani Johnson's concern, the data collected by the CAC show that during the time of the survey in 2013, the textbook Mastering World Religions by Ray Colledge was available in two stores for J$1,800 and J$3,029, resulting in an observed average of J$2,414.50. In 2014, this text was observed in three stores: J$4,458 in two and J$4,454 in one, resulting in an observed average of J$4,456.67. What is being compared in the 2014 report is the average observed price in 2013 (J$2,414.50) and the average observed price in 2014 (J$4,456.67).
We recognise that several factors influence the observed availability and prices of books. However, the aim of the survey is to provide consumers with reliable price information to discharge their responsibility as parents and guardians in a cost-effective manner.
We remind all stakeholders to interpret our results in the context of what is observed by our survey officers during the time of study. We also remind parents to visit the CAC website at www.cac.gov.jm to check the prices of textbooks at the surveyed bookstores.