'Mi cyan bother' - CAC pushing for more informed consumers
Consumers in general are more informed these days but many are still not doing enough to educate themselves about their rights in the marketplace, a situation the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) is looking to address with a new public awareness programme.
"I believe people are becoming a little more aware. They haven't reached the point yet where we want to have them because our dream really at the CAC is that we'll have a population of really well-informed, vigilant, assertive consumers. that's our long-term vision and that is going to be done through consumer education," Dolsie Allen, chief executive officer, told The Gleaner.
"There is still, I think, too many persons who still have this 'cyan bother' mentality, and we are going to be launching a campaign shortly that says, 'me cyan bother' but you must," said Allen.
However, she went on to explain that there was a marked improvement in consumer willingness to do the proper due diligence before making purchases, especially in regard to large appliances.
"We have persons who have been calling us even before they make any purchasing decisions to say, I am going to be buying a refrigerator and I want to go to X store. Do you have any complaints on this particular vendor, and if so, how did they handle the complaints?" the consumer advocate shared. And she pointed out that vendors also utilise the services.
"Sometimes they are in the middle of a dispute with a consumer and they will call us and say, this is the scenario, how do you think I should handle it? What are the rights of the consumer here? So we have been providing that kind of information and that type of advice to the business sector, both the vendors and the consumers themselves."
Despite being underfunded, the CAC, which has offices in the Corporate Area, Manchester and St James, thoroughly investigates all complaints, with resolution usually resulting in monetary compensation, as in full or partial refunds, repairs or replacement of goods. Allen, however, encourages customers to first seek to resolve disputes with the store/shop owner before rushing to the CAC. She wants customers to take up the matter first at the point of purchase, and if they are unable to get redress then bring it to the government agency with the mandate to educate and empower consumers to protect themselves from excesses in the marketplace.