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Businesses told about receipt, return, refund and replacement rules; one businessman says laws “stinking”

Director of the Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission (CCAC), Dawn Holder speaking with the Proprietor of Pressy’s Enterprises, Selwyn Prescod about the consumer laws.

Efforts to protect consumers from exploitation or unfair trading practices intensified Monday with a public awareness exercise that targeted businesses in Georgetown, but at least one businessman has labeled the law “stinking.”

Director of the Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission (CCAC), Dawn Holder led a team of officers to stores on Regent Street.  Reacting to Alert’s explanation of the law as it relates to returns, replacements and refunds, Proprietor of Pressy’s Enterprise, Selwyn Prescott expressed concern about the law.

“That law stinks. I could tell you that now because that is like in America where you go and you buy an iron and use it for the weekend and you bring it back. That makes no sense, that is a stinking law,” he said. Prescod said such a law could render businesses unprofitable if consumers abuse it. “If persons aware they could do this, they would do it. When we in Guyana, we are not allowing it; when we are in America, we are allowing it,” he said. Prescod claimed that persons in the United States buy clothing for use at special events in Guyana and when they return they seek a refund.

Head of the CCAC’s Consumer Affairs Unit, Haroon Khan moments earlier told reporters that being compliant saves businesses monies and provides them with a solid reputation. “It also gives the consumer that security. It is a safety zone. The consumer feels safe buying from you. Your reputation, your credibility is enhanced,” he said.

Handouts were distributed to businesses showing that the law requires them to repair, replace or provide a complete refund for goods that have been deemed defective by an independent examiner. The law also prohibits businesses fro stating no exchanges or returns, Instead, the law requires then to accept returned goods and charge customers a 10 percent restocking fee and reimburse customers the remainder of the cost.

Businesses are also required by law to provide customers with receipts that include the enterprise’s  name, location, phone number, value of item and whether it is inclusive of Value Added Tax (VAT).

Khan told reporters that although the four-year old law provides for a maximum of GYD$1 million fine and one year’s imprisonment, his agency seeks to resolve issues by moral suasion as part of efforts to build a relationship between consumers and businesses. “That fine does not negate the supplier from their responsibility of repairing, replacing or providing a refund. That is the penalty for breaching the law and not coming into compliance,” he added.

He said if businesses fail to comply with the law the CCAC would summon the owner to the Commission and alert him or her that he or she has violated the law and the recourse to repair or replace the item or refund the consumer. The matter is then taken to the CCAC’s Board of Commissioners and referred to the High Court.

The Head of the CCAC’s Consumer Affairs Unit said “a lot of suppliers are not compliant” but it did not mean they were not aware of the law. Since the formation of the CCAC, he said more than 250 cases have been dealt with and close to 86 percent have been settled out of Court. “The problem is there are businesses out there about which a complaint may not have come to the Commission and we want to let them know that they should not wait until a complaint comes; get into compliance,” he said.