Are you a consumer who is fed up with the service that you’ve been receiving? Did you purchase a defective product and you’re not sure what to do? Have you been wronged and you think your rights have been violated?
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About the Consumer Complaints Guide
The Consumer Complaints Guide is a resource for consumers in Barbados to find information on how to complain, who to complain to and the protocol that should be observed. As a consumer I’ve had my basic rights ignored and disregarded and as a result I became annoyed enough to take action. You have to take action too.
My Consumer Complaint Story
I have many consumer nightmares, but the one that propelled me to take action was my treatment at the hands of one of the large telecommunications giants. At this time I can not go into details because that incident is still under investigation, however I can tell you what I’ve learnt so far.
Making a complaint is one of the most difficult aspects of exercising our rights as consumers. Why? Many people think that complaining can only be effective if a scene is made. On the surface, quarreling might seem to be the way to get a matter solved, but a formal complaint can be the catalyst to change what is causing the issue.
The day of my incident remains clear in my mind. And what made it even clearer is that I wrote down exactly what happened less than thirty minutes after it occurred. At the time I did not understand the significance of this, but it was especially relevant because it later allowed me to write a detailed complaint of the events that occurred.
Consumer Complaints the Right Way
If you are making a complaint to the Fair Trading Commission (FTC), you are bound by the contents of certain acts. Section (25) of the Fair Trading Commission Act, CAP. 326B requires that all complainants must satisfy the commission that they have tried to resolve the matter and have failed to obtain satisfactory and reasonable redress.
I did not take these steps. I sent an email to the service provider’s “generic” email and received a “generic” response. The FTC later advised me to take these specific steps which can be considered as best practice when making complaints.
- Write a letter to the Manager of the business. In your letter, clearly outline your grievances and state the remedies which you are seeking. Writing down the events of that day allowed me to give a clear account of the incident. In addition, when listing the remedies, be as detailed as possible.
- Give the business fourteen (14) days to respond to your complaint. This is more than enough time for them to review your letter and provide a response.
When you are contacting the Manager of the business, make sure that you get a name so that you can address the letter to that person. Another tip is to have your letter hand delivered to someone in the organisation. I would suggest that you take it yourself or get a courier service to deliver it. Furthermore, you should make a note of the name of the person who received the letter, the date and the time of delivery.
If after the fourteen day period the matter has not been resolved to your liking, you should contact the FTC again. Provide them with all of the facts pertaining to the issue and they will evaluate the complaint.
Know Your Rights
Each Caribbean country has its own regulatory body which assumes responsibility for consumer affairs in the particular jurisdiction. The CARICOM Competition Commission is a regional body which monitors cross-border business conduct and reviews practices in the Fair Trading Act. The countries in the Caribbean have their own legislation, laws and policies to govern consumer rights.
The Consumer Complaints Guide would not be effective if it did not encourage you to get educated. As a consumer, you should know your rights so that you are aware of the avenues available to you if any breaches occur. The following documents which detail consumers’ rights and expectations are available for free. I have linked to them from this page for easy reference.
Antigua and Barbuda
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
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