Businesses that only offer in-store credits in lieu of refunding money to customers for returned goods and services are in contravention of consumer protection laws.
It is because of this and other widespread practices that the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) is holding a symposium this week to remind Bahamian consumers of their rights.
Research Officer at the CPC Lavade Darling said the majority of complaints that are filed with the commission are related to receipts and refunds for returning goods to businesses, where customers are forced to utilize a store credit.
“When I went through the legislation I realized this was an area of great concern, because when we looked at some of our complaints we saw we got a lot about persons wanted items refunded. We’ve got these store policies, no refunds, no exchange, it all falls under the same legislation,” Darling said.
“Here’s the thing, a store policy cannot supersede the statute laws of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. I’m saying to you and I’m saying to our listening audience, that posting a store policy cannot contradict the statute laws of The Bahamas. The statute laws are going to always trump your store policy.
Section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2008 states that where a consumer is encouraged to acquire goods by the provider’s declaration and description of the goods and the consumer subsequently discovers that those goods are defective in a material particular from that intended to be purchased, the consumer may return the goods to the provider. And that the provider shall immediately offer to the consumer, in exchange for the returned goods, monetary compensation of the goods or such other amount as may be agreed between the consumer and the provider.
The act continues, refunds on goods returned to a provider shall only be made where the goods are returned to the provider in the condition purchased or with minimal damage resulting from reasonable exposure in the normal course of the consumer’s use of the goods prior to discovery of the material difference between the goods received and the goods that the consumer requested.
And, a consumer who acquires a good that in every way is similar or identical to the one requested or described and declared by the provider shall not be entitled to a refund if, having left the place from which the provider sold the good, the consumer for any reason decides that he no longer wants it.
“Bring the matter to the Consumer Protection Commission, that’s what we do, we mediate between consumers and service providers in the marketplace in terms of conflict and dispute mediation. You should not be forced to accept a store credit,” Darling advised consumers who have experiences in contravention to their rights.
The symposium is scheduled for Tuesday, January 28 at the Franklyn R. Wilson Graduate Centre, University of The Bahamas at 6 p.m.