Over 50% of businesses violate consumer laws – CAU
The Consumer Affairs Unit (CAU) branch of the Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission (CCAC) last year conducted its first countrywide inspections to businesses where it was discovered that over 50 per cent of them were breaching the Consumers Affairs Act with regard to the issuance of receipts and warranty on products, among others.
In a report compiled by the Commission, it was explained that a total of 159 businesses were inspected in Regions Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Six (East Berbice- Corentyne), Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) and Four (Demerara-Mahaica) where most of the inspections were done due to the proximity and the level of commercialism.
According to the Unit, officers focused their attention on clothing, footwear and accessories, electronics, appliances, household items, stationery and office supplies as well as hardware and building materials during which some 55 per cent of businesses were found to be uncompliant.
“During the initial inspection exercise, 45 per cent of the businesses were in conformance with the Consumer Affairs Act while the majority, 55 per cent of businesses, failed to be in compliance with one or more sections of Part IV – Duties of Suppliers of the CAA,” the Commission reported.
It was keen to note that in Region Three, 100 per cent of the businesses were ignorant of their roles as vendors and as a consequence, failed to fulfil their duties.
Over in the most popular commercial area, Region Four, some 37 per cent of inspected businesses failed to meet their requirements while 63 per cent were compliant.
Meanwhile, in Regions Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), 56 per cent and 60 per cent of businesses were compliant.
“On the other hand, only one-third of businesses in Region Nine were in compliance while the remaining two-thirds were non-compliant. Likewise, a substantial proportion of businesses in Region 10 failed the inspection with only one business meeting the requirements,” CCAC revealed.
It was explained that those businesses were inspected using a compliance checklist which encompassed the duties of suppliers. Here it was found that the top three infringements were related to the return of goods, issuance of receipts and warranties.
Although all goods providers are mandated to conform to the current return policies, issue receipts and offer warranty, a whopping 57 or 36 per cent of the inspected businesses failed to adhere to the return policy while 53 or 33 per cent issued no receipts to their customers and an additional 41 or 26 per cent of businesses did not offer warranty or did not align with the criteria stated in the Consumer Act.
For the Consumer Affairs Unit, re-inspection is critical if the objective of a safe market for customers is to be achieved. With this in mind, uncompliant businesses were given one month to correct their flaws and an applaudable 65 per cent of re-inspected businesses were able to erase their mistakes.
The Commission said another phase of re-inspections will be conducted in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) and Four (Demerara-Mahaica) during the first quarter of this year.