Senior citizens in Barbados are looking to “shake things up” and exercise their consumer rights by setting up a consumer protection body within the Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP).
President of BARP Marilyn Rice-Bowen gave the indication on Wednesday as the association continued its discussion with the Fair Trading Commission (FTC), aimed at raising awareness among members about consumer issues and the rights and responsibilities of elderly consumers.
She said the decision to establish a consumer protection agency comes amid ongoing concerns from members about some trade practices here.
“We need to shake up and really and truly look towards forming a consumer body within BARP,” said Rice-Bowen, as she reminded members “you have rights too, and you have extensive purchasing power”.
“As a senior consumer we have purchasing power and we have people power. Because of those two realms of power we need to ensure that we are all enlightened and as a members’ rights organisation our members’ rights are not trampled,” she said.
“We are hoping that through these sessions we can ignite some fires that will witness the birth of a consumer body within BARP. We have the people and we are going to give you all the knowledge and expose you to as much information as humanly possible,” said Rice-Bowen.
She told the online audience to see themselves as consumer advocates. “Don’t just be satisfied with staying in a corner and complaining. Come out because you have the knowledge, and let us form a consumer body within the membership of BARP.”
She pointed out that a strong partnership with the FTC will play a critical role going forward as BARP seeks to broaden the knowledge base of its members and the wider society.
To date, the FTC and BARP have done presentations on issues relating to bait and switch advertising, incorrect pricing, consumer laws, rights and responsibilities.
Today’s topic was Consumer Law: Unfair Trading Practices Part 2. The next session will take a close look at pyramid schemes.
Today, Consumer Protection Officer with the FTC Wanda Crichlow-Trotman pointed out that pyramid schemes and work-from-home scams were two of the most prevalent at the moment.
“In recent times we have been hearing a lot about work-from-home scams. Coming out of COVID last year people were offering other people job opportunities to work from home and make exorbitant amounts of cash. But in truth and in fact, there really are no jobs to be had. So we want persons to be aware and mindful of this that if these opportunities sound too good they are likely to be too good to be true. So be weary of these opportunities,” she warned.
“Another thing we see and a lot of this is coming to our attention at the Fair Trading Commission is the pyramid scheme,” she added, noting that the FTC was expected to address this matter in coming weeks.
“But for now we are just advising people not to get involved in these schemes,” said Crichlow-Trotman.
During her presentation, the FTC official highlighted several areas of the Consumer Protection Act, and explained to the elderly audience some things to look out for.
“So I give you an example. A business that does not provide enough information is likely to breach section 12 of the Consumer Protection Act. So for example, a business advertises a blender for $25 and that is all it says in the advertisement, but then when you go into the store you recognize the parts are sold separately. So it is $25 for the jar and then $25 for the top and the actual cost of the blender is $50,” she explained.
“The business would have misled you because they did not give you enough information for you to make an informed decision. So all the information that goes with a transaction needs to be given to the consumer upfront,” she informed.
Crichlow-Trotman also looked at the unfair trading practice relating to advertisements for credit purchases. She pointed out that the advertisement should include the total sum to be paid for the goods or services, the number of installments required, the rate of interest and deposit, if any.
She advised that where it was not a credit transaction, the cash price should be included in the advertisement.
She also indicated that in the case of dual pricing, the lower price of the item should be charged.
Crichlow-Trotman explained that bait advertising would be one where a business advertises a good or service at a special price which they cannot supply, but it is designed to lure people into the shop. (MM)