The Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) is preparing a Cabinet paper after it received a number of complaints from tourists about “high pressure selling tactics” at local timeshare properties and a “plethora” of complaints about Bay Street stores.
CPC Research Officer Lavade Darling said in these instances “red flags” were raised because ultimately the tourists were leaving negative comments about The Bahamas on review websites because of their unfortunate experiences shopping.
“All of the tourist complaints would have been against timeshares and also a few stores on Bay Street that I am not at liberty to divulge the names. The timeshares would involve stuff like, they would sign up for it under high pressure selling tactics. The clause would allow them to get out of it in a certain time frame, they try to get out of it within the time frame but they find out that they’re still locked into it. They’re not letting them out of it,” Darling told Guardian Business after a Rotary Club of Southeast Nassau meeting yesterday.
“Kind of like you can check in but you can’t check out, which is unfortunate because they are doing it within the time frame, it’s in the fine print and they’re still saying no. Most of them have been about that same issue, persons wanting to get out but not being allowed to get out.”
In the other instance, Darling said he believes cruise passengers were being targeted by particular stores downtown.
“The stores on Bay Street that we’ve received a plethora of complaints against, it’s really just been one store with many locations and the complaints center around our cruise passengers. I think they’re being targeted,” he said.
“The reason they’re being targeted is because they are only on land for a limited period of time and then they leave and during that period of time, they find that they purchase an item for say $300 and when they check their credit card it’s like $5,000, $6,000, $10,000. That’s why it raised red flags for us because they go online and they complain, but they say The Bahamas.”
Darling did not specify how many complaints the commission received about these issues, but said it was enough to bring the matters to the attention of the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation.
“Those matters would be the subject of a Cabinet paper that we’re working on because it’s going to be a multi-ministerial approach. Because we are involving the
Ministry of Tourism and whatever government agency. We thought that it would be best to bring it to the attention of the Cabinet to get the full resolve of the government and that’s our process, that’s how we do things. The buck stops with Cabinet,” he said.
“At CPC we’re doing our job because we brought it to the attention of those whose attention it needed to be brought to and hopefully we’ll get some resolve. And even though they might refund a couple thousand dollars, not everybody is going to complain.. if you get one complaint of this nature multiply that by a factor of ten or twenty because not everybody is going to come forward and that will give you a more accurate picture of what’s going on in that area.”
Darling said most consumers in The Bahamas are unaware of the CPC and its ability to stand as a mediator between the buying public and merchants.
A symposium was held on Tuesday night to educate consumers about their rights.
“If you are a business owner and you want to know if you’re compliant then come in and speak to us and more than likely it will be me you are speaking to and I will examine your store policy and let you know if that’s a no,” he said.