With World Consumer Rights Day being celebrated on Friday, March 15, the Ministry of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce is continuing its efforts to educate Barbadians on their rights and responsibilities as consumers.
The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs is advising persons that when purchasing a used or reconditioned car from a registered dealership that the car should be fitted with new tyres, and that the importer must offer a warranty on each reconditioned vehicle for at least six months or 6,000 km.
The department also advises that all goods entering Barbados should be labelled in English. If persons should encounter goods only in a foreign language, they should bring them to the attention of the retailer who should remove them from their shelves, and contact the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
Barbadians are also reminded by the Office of the Public Counsel (OPC) that when they are considering purchasing a vehicle that they should always consult the Barbados Licensing Authority, in order to verify that the seller of the vehicle is, in fact, the owner.
Also, the Office points out that a good looking vehicle chassis does not signify a proper working engine and they should always consult a reputable mechanic before purchasing a vehicle.
The OPC further advises that where practical, persons should always seek to make written contracts, since oral agreements often give rise to a situation of one person’s word against the other.
The OPC also has advice for persons who are seeking to pursue educational or technical courses. Those persons should contact the Barbados Accreditation Council prior to enrolment, to ensure that the school or institution offering the training is registered.
The Office of Public Counsel deals with complaints of $10,000.00 or under made by a consumer against a supplier or a person who is in trade and not with private sales between individuals.
A consumer or person who can make a complaint, is according to the OPC, an individual who purchases goods or acquires services from a supplier for personal, domestic or household use or consumption, and not one who acquires the goods or services for re-supplying them in trade or consuming them in production or manufacture.
Meanwhile, the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI) is advising that there are differences in certain terms used in selling and buying products which consumers need to understand. For example, Expiration Date informs the consumer of the last date the food/product can be safely consumed or used. Products should not be retailed or consumed after this date.
The Best Before Date is usually associated with quality. It informs the consumer of the date that the quality features, such as taste, aroma and freshness, which are guaranteed by the manufacturer. It is not associated with safety.
And, according to the BNSI, the Sell by Date is the date by which products could legally be placed for sale. Products should be removed from the shelf once this date has expired, and should not be retailed or consumed after this date.
Consumer Rights Day has as its theme Trusted Smart Products. To this end, the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) is urging consumers to check their contracts in relation to cell phones to ensure that they understand the consequences of exceeding their plan. The FTC is further advising that consumers turn off data manually and connect to secure WI-FI to manage the data usage.
These tips and more may also be obtained when consumers attend the outreach programme scheduled for National Heroes Square on Friday, March 15, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.