FTC official issues warning to businesses
A local official is warning business operators that they need to stop telling consumers that all sales are final and they are not entitled to a refund.
Director of consumer protection at the Fair Trading Commission Judy Maynard told Barbados TODAY that while there has been “a drastic change” in terms of conformity to the laws, some companies were still “misleading” consumers about their rights.
“I find that some businesses still have the sign, which is misleading, telling consumers they cannot get a refund when they purchase something. Take for example, you may have a business with a sign up saying, ‘Sales are final. No refund’. That is not so. That is wrong, because if you buy a sale item you still expect it to be of the same standard as if it was not in the sale,” said Maynard, opting not to give specific cases.
Her comments came as the FTC took to Bridgetown yesterday morning to interact with and inform business operators and consumers of their rights under the Consumer Protection Act.
Maynard warned that if something was wrong with an item, it was the duty of the store operator to inform the unsuspecting shopper before the purchase is made, adding that if more than one problem arose, customers should be informed.
“If there is something wrong with that item the business should tell you in advance so you can make an informed choice as to whether or not you want to purchase it. But they can’t say all sales are final. That is illegal and that is something we are going to be looking for . . . as we go into the stores,” she warned, adding that from time to time the FTC carried out impromptu visits.
She noted that sometimes there were consumers who were “unreasonable”, but pointed out that when an issue is brought before the FTC, officers first sought to ensure that the complaint was “fair and not vexatious”, adding that all complaints were carefully examined before it was determined if they should be dealt with by the FTC or another agency.
Maynard said since its conception in 2003 the FTC had not taken anyone to court.
“I think businesses, once you show them what is reasonable, they tend to comply. I have never had a business that doesn’t want to comply,” she added.
On average, the Commission gets between 25 to 30 people showing up at the FTC with consumer-related complaints and over 200 calls per month.
Maynard said the Commission “purposely” chose this time to go in The City with its education efforts to business operators and consumers because they suspect a lot of consumers would be in the area.
“We want them to know about their rights and responsibilities and how to address issues should they have any problems. We also know that not many persons can come and visit us at the Commission during the daytime. So we are bringing ourselves to the consumers and businesses. We believe the more we can get out there, the more persons will be able to resolve problems without having to come to the Commission for redress,” explained Maynard.