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Electrical equipment, appliances top 2015 consumer complaints

Published:Thursday | December 3, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Energy-saving front-loading washing machine.

The State agency established to inform, educate and empower consumers to protect themselves, the Consumer Affairs Commission, (CAC), is warning persons to be extra vigilant when purchasing electrical equipment this Christmas.

According to the commission persons need to be extra careful when buying electrical equipment from street vendors, non-authorised dealers and online retailers or individuals.

The commission's warning comes against the background that for the first six months of the 2015-2016 financial year, the consumer complaints it has received have mainly been about electrical equipment and appliances.

From April 1 to September 30 of this year, the commission said it received 177 complaints about electrical equipment and appliances.

This represented 31.27 per cent of all complaints received during the review period and was the largest complaint category.

"Complaints about electrical equipment and appliances were not dominated by any one type of equipment but were fairly broad across all categories of household equipment, such as refrigerators, washing machines, stoves, a/c units and televisions," said the commission.

"No dominant issue was highlighted, but a majority of complaints were as a result of units malfunctioning or not performing at optimal level," added the CAC.

be more vigilant

The commission highlighted that with Christmas just weeks away, these items are usually bought as gifts for family and friends. However, given that this category of items is the most complained about, the commission is urging consumers to be careful when making purchases of this nature as they also have a responsibility to be more vigilant about the purchases they make.

To avoid being another unsatisfied consumer, the commission is advising persons to read all labels carefully, test all appliances in the store, if possible, and get a guarantee or warranty for all appliances.

As it relates to warranties, consumers should ensure that they are informed about exactly what the warranty covers and the period of that coverage. Some warranties may ask the consumer to pay for labour charges or to send big, cumbersome items to distant places for repair.

Consumers are being urged to check to determine if the conditions of the warranty are convenient before making purchases.

In addition, it is recommended that persons observe the manufacturer's instructions in the use of any product purchased, as abuse or misuse may void the warranty coverage. Questions should also be asked about the return policy and warranty, while receipts should be obtained and close attention paid to the presence of the sales tax, as businesses selling inferior or unsafe products often do not report their sales.

Consumers are also advised to trust their instincts, so if the price is "too good to be true" it could be because the product is inferior or unsafe.

It is also recommended that persons who are aware that substandard electrical items are being sold on the market should immediately report it to the Bureau of Standards Jamaica or the commission.