legal-vertical-managed-services.jpgOne of the most distinctive changes in the Jamaican marketplace over the last 15 years has been the expansion in the types of goods and services available to consumers. This growth has been spurred by trade liberalisation, regulatory reform, and advances in information and communication technology. Consumers play a vital role in this expansion. When they are educated about their rights and responsibilities, consumers help to drive competition, business efficiency and innovation. This cannot happen without the presence of an effective policy which addresses marketplace problems by reducing or eliminating unfair marketplace practices so that a more level playing field is created between consumers and businesses. 
Legislation is an essential tool that is available to create this equilibrium. The Consumer Protection Act (2005) (CPA) is the law which established the Consumer Affairs Commission, and the legislation from which the Commission derives its authority to carry out its mandate of promoting and protecting consumer interests. There are however several other consumer protection legislations which guide the work of the Commission, ranging from those that focus on consumer empowerment, to those that aim to modify the behaviour of businesses. They are outlined and explained in the attached pages. 


 What are the Consumer Rights and Responsibilities of which we speak?


The Right to Satisfaction of Basic Needs Citizens must demand access to essential goods and services such as adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water, and sanitation.

The Right to Safety and protection from hazardous goods or services.

The Right to be Informed and protected against fraudulent, deceitful or misleading information and to have access to accurate information and facts needed to make informed choices and decisions.

The Right to Choose and have access to a variety of products and services at fair and competitive prices.

The Right to be Heard and to express and represent consumer interests in the making of economic and political decisions.

The Right to Redress and to be compensated for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.

The Right to Consumer Education and to become a skilled and informed consumer capable of functioning effectively in the marketplace.

The Right to a Healthy Environment that will enhance the quality of life and provide protection from environmental problems for present and future generations.



The Responsibility to be aware of the quality and safety of goods and services before purchasing.

The Responsibility to gather all the information and facts available about a product or service as well as to keep abreast of changes and innovations in the marketplace.

The Responsibility to Think Independently and make choices about well considered needs and wants.

The Responsibility to Speak Out, to inform manufacturers and governments of needs and wants.

The Responsibility to Complain and inform business and other consumers of dissatisfaction with a product or service in a fair and honest manner.

The Responsibility to be an Ethical Consumer and to be fair by not engaging in dishonest practices which cost all consumers money.

The Responsibility to Respect the Environment and avoid waste, littering and contribution to pollution.

 xmas_shopping_girl.gifThe shopping experience, while viewed as a chore by some is seen as a highly inter-personal matter by others who may establish and maintain relationships with specific stores and supermarkets. What is the deciding factor regarding where to shop though? What are the most important factors in the decision-making process?

One of the primary rights of the consumer promoted by the Consumer Affairs Commission is the right to choose. Consumers are therefore encouraged to shop around before making their purchases as this is a practice which can help in saving money and even guaranteeing that the desired quality product or service is received. In an era when there are so may goods on sale, all with very appealing advertisements, it is sometimes difficult to make a decision about what and where to buy. 

For most consumers, price is the drawing card when it comes to deciding where to shop and what to buy. However, while bargains are good, it is important that goods and services are of good quality as sometimes inferior goods are passed off to unsuspecting consumers at a low price.  It is for this reason that we encourage consumers to check all items purchased before leaving the purchase point to ensure that what was paid for is what is received as it relates to quality, appearance, weight and any other factor by which the item can be measured.   Buying defective goods or utilising shoddy service can prove to be very expensive in the long run and may result in repeat purchases or repeat visits to the same location. Avoid this by carrying out your own due diligence. 
While price is crucial, there are other factors which the consumer must take into consideration when shopping around. The location of the business, for example, must be a deciding factor as chasing after bargains in areas outside of our community or travel route may find us being penny wise and pound foolish. Buying petrol at an outlet close to home for $110/gallon, for example, might make more sense than driving ten miles to buy from an outlet which sells it for $108/gallon.   The savings realized would be used in the journey to and from the location.
In addition to the distance from home, other factors which cannot be overlooked include customer service, bulk discounts, cleanliness, availability of certain key items and the arrangement of goods in the store. Which factor is most important to you? Whatever the determining factor is, there are some things worth remembering. 
  1. Ensure that you are in fact receiving the best available price (compare)
  2. Electrical items purchased have been tested and are in good working condition
  3. Warranty is provided on appliances
  4. Parts are available and reasonably priced for those items which will require replacement of parts
Don’t forget too that the CAC’s price surveys, which can now be accessed online, can help you to select the outlets with the best prices.


One of the laws which enables Consumers to obtain redress is the Hire Purchase Act.

Some provisions of this Act which Consumers should be aware of are as follows:


When a Consumer buys goods under a hire purchase agreement, the goods do not belong to him until they are fully paid for under the Agreement.

REMEMBER, when you enter an agreement to obtain goods on hire purchase, the seller must give you a copy of the Agreement which you have both signed.


Did you know that when you buy goods on hire purchase, you are legally bound to take reasonable care of them until they are fully paid for?  If the goods are repossessed, or if you end the agreement early and return the goods, and they are damaged, you may be required to pay compensation to the seller.


If you are buying goods on hire purchase, and you do not pay your instalments on time and the issue of repossession arises, the seller must first send you a notice of default and afterwards, a notice that he is going to repossess the goods.

The notice of default should give you at least seven days to make good your payment. After that, the seller’s bailiff can repossess the goods.


The Hire Purchase Act is like a referee who ensuresthat both sides obey the rules - in this case, the seller and the buyer or Consumer. The law says that the seller’s bailiff who is recovering possession of goods must bring with him a copy of the notice of repossession. He must also leave a copy of this notice with the Consumer.


Consumers who buy goods on hire purchase must pay their instalments on time. If not, a bailiff may be sent to repossess the goods.  Repossession should be carried out only by a licensed bailiff and he must show his license and ID card before entering your premises.  In addition, the bailiff may only enter the premises between six o’clock in the morning and six in the evening, Mondays to Saturdays.


As a  Consumer, you can terminate your hire purchase agreement before the final instalment is due. To do this, You must inform the seller in writing. You must also make all payments due up to the date of termination.

You may have to pay an additional amount, as specified in your agreement with the seller.


Provided by Ministry of Justice