Fri | Jun 25, 2021

Consumer watchdog sleeping, toothless

Published:Monday | April 27, 2015 | 3:34 PM


Jamaica suffers from many things, one of which is a seeming inability to do things for which we have rules and legislative powers to act. I wrote on my blog over the weekend that our comparative advantage is in scamming. It's a harsh truth, but by owning it, we may set ourselves free.

However, our constant national striving to find ways to wheedle money out of people is aided and abetted by laxity.

I've just noted, over past weeks, the almost daily reports in the media of abuses of the consumer. The latest, on Monday, is about gas stations adding hidden charges to the cost of petrol.

Last week, we learned that some 49 cable companies in Jamaica (I never knew we had so many) had been airing content illegally, and now would have to remove it. In the process, consumers have been unwitting accessories to theft. We have to ask what the Broadcasting Commission was doing over the years. But, now what are the rights of ordinary cable subscribers?

We have a possible mammoth fraud involving $160 million from the sale of used cars.

We had, a few weeks ago, the debacle of ticket holders unable to enter the National Stadium on the final day of Champs. After much public uproar, ISSA spoke quickly about considering refunds, but weeks after, we've heard not another word on that.

If we go back over the past year alone, we will find many more such stories of small and large enterprises taking a chunk out of the money that is already very tight for most Jamaicans. It's unconscionable. But, where are our advocates?

We have a Consumer Affairs Commission, which, as far as I can tell, has said not one word about any of these abuses, either with an 'immediate reaction' or 'after some reflection'. Why?