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Consumers’ Rights

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The road that consumers have to travel is never smooth. It is often dotted with obstacles and there are twists and turns that are not in their favor. At the end of the day they are the losers because many defective goods end up in their homes through no fault of their own.{{more}}

The Product

We cannot produce all that we need, and we will always depend on the merchants to bring us what we need. Our expectations are for consumer hardware that is of high quality and food items that are fresh, sound and fit for human consumption, but many consumers would tell you that many defective products end up in their homes. Rarely do we buy onions or potatoes without a spoilt one among the good ones. Or when one purchases the goods on styrofoam platter there is the chance that there is a flawed side down, so we do not always know what we are buying and rarely do we have the time to return the item. The issue of goods that have expired is a sore spot. There are those sellers who are reluctant to take these off the shelves. It also goes to the manufacturer who gives the date in an inconspicuous part of the product with figures that could hardly be discerned. It is sometimes a procedure in futility to even get sufficient information about the product on the package so as to make an informed purchase

Return Policy

Return policy is today universally observed, but some merchants in SVG do not take kindly to persons returning goods, and some of them look at the buyer with suspicion. I recall returning a pair of defective latex gloves to a store owner. I did not infringe any law in regards to the time it was returned, but the store owner appeared to be offended and behaved as if I had committed a crime by returning the item. She refused to return my money and told me that I could opt for some other item in the store. I told her that there was nothing in the store that I wanted. She finally decided to give me a credit note instead of returning my money. One seller who had sold a leaky kettle to a buyer refused to return the purchaser’s money. Instead he pointed to an inconspicuous sign which noted the non return policy of that business. The store owner was so adamant that the consumer had to retain a lawyer to write to the storeowner. It was after he received the letter that he decided to refund the purchase money.

There are many persons out there who have had similar experiences, not only with the purchase of products but with the delivery of services. The attendant at a notable money transfer company told the sender before she left that her money had reached its destination in New York but when the receiver went to collect the money he was told that the money was already collected. Further enquiries revealed that the money was collected in Liberia in Africa. The troubles of the sender started as she now had to tell the company why she sent one thousand US dollars to her son. It took persistent calling until twenty days after the event the company decided to return the money. The consumers have had to endure tremendous hardship because of the attitude of the merchants, sellers and service providers. We will look at the protection that the law provides next week.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com

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