It is evident there is a lot of interest in the work of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC).
This was the assertion made today by Director of Fair Competition at the FTC, Antonio Thompson, as he managed the flow of persons who visited their Consumer Outreach booth set up at Abed’s Store on Swan Street.
“The response to the outreach at Abed’s has been very, very good and a lot of people are interested in what we are doing or what we are supposed to be pushing out there. I can say that this is a very positive initiative, something that we want to continue going forward; we’ve always done it but we want to make sure that it is something that is sustained,” he stressed.
The outreach was the first in a series that is expected to continue every Friday of this month. It will be held at two other venues, with the second slated for Friday, July 13, at Sheraton Centre, Sargeant’s Village, Christ Church. The third will take place at Cave Shepherd, Broad Street, Bridgetown, on Friday, July 20. It culminates with a return to Abed’s, Swan Street, on Friday, July 27.
Consumer Protection Officers will undertake the programme from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. each day and members of the public are invited to interact with them to have queries and related concerns on consumer protection addressed.
Mr. Thompson further noted that the Commission was conducting two surveys – one on tourism and the other on mobile services. Adding that the Fair Competition side of the Commission was also undertaking a poultry study, he said: “They are all trying to get the input or views of consumers in terms of contracts for tourism and for mobile services, but from the poultry section we are trying to find out how customers feel about the quality of the service and the prices that are being offered. We are seeking to determine if there is anything going on that would cause concern in terms of competition for consumers.”
Meanwhile, Director of Utility Regulation, Marsha Atherley Ikechi, in giving the rationale behind the month’s initiative, said part of the mandate of the Commission was to do outreach, education and public awareness and, as such, they were seeking to fulfil this objective.
She explained: “We do this quite often, particularly at Crop Over and around Christmas time, where there is heightened retail activity. That is the purpose, for us to be able to interact with the consuming public, give them some information on consumer protection – their rights and responsibilities – as well as make them aware of the standards of service on the utilities regulation.”
Acknowledging that persons were “quite receptive’, she described the morning as being filled with questions on the different standards provided in the Standards of Service for electricity, water, sewage and telecommunications – landline services, in particular.
“They are generally not aware of what they should be looking for when purchasing products; they didn’t ask about the fuel tax but one lady was asking about the NSRL and if we are the ones to ensure that it is removed from products. We are not the persons to be looking at that; there is a unit within the Ministry of Commerce that looks at that,” Mrs Ikechi pointed out.