Rent disputes feature in rise of consumer complaints
Growing complaints about landlords and tenants contributed to an increased workload for the Department of Consumer Affairs in 2011, Economy Minister Patrice Minors has revealed.
Mrs Minors said 657 general complaints were recorded throughout the year, 27 percent more than in 2010, with many of them lease-related rent problems, medical billing issues and the purchase of second hand cars.
Offering advice in a Ministerial Statement at the House of Assembly last Friday, the Minister said: “It is fair to say that the Department of Consumer Affairs cases indicate that there are some areas where consumers continue to make the same mistakes.
“For example, signing quotes without understanding them, taking too long to deal with a situation when there is a problem and ‘helping a brother out’ by hiring friends, family or friends of friends without applying proper business acumen.”
There was a sharp rise in complaints about advertising, from two in 2010 to 12 last year, with similar surges in marine and cosmetology issues. Of the 657 complaints, 123 were complex cases which can take six months or more to resolve.
Mrs Minors called on businesses to do more to resolve consumer problems.
“It is evident that businesses would benefit greatly by having a complaint management system in place in an attempt to resolve consumer issues,” she said.
“Consumer Affairs has been proactive in this area with local businesses, but there are many businesses that continue to avoid confrontations with customers in hopes that the problem will go away on its own.
“During the course of their investigations, the Department of Consumer Affairs found that most companies that were found to be in contravention of the Consumer Protection Act 1999, complied with enforcement instructions and amicable resolutions were achieved.
“However, a few companies neglected to abide by enforcement requirements and subsequently faced compliance orders, desist orders, voluntary compliance orders and prosecution.”