The 15th March, was International Consumer Rights Day, and we at Kittivisian Life, want to share the experience of a consumer we’ll call Andre, who’s account follows.
We bought a pair of shoes for our son to start school September 2014, from a shop in the centre of down town Basseterre, and within two weeks the shoes began coming apart. When we returned them we were told they would repair them. I told the manager he had two options, replace the shoes or give me the money paid. We were told we would have to wait a week, for the owner to return from overseas.
When we returned, we were told again that they would repair the shoes, which I left with them and I took the short walk to Consumer Affairs Department to report the matter. I was told that the department was waiting for someone willing to file an official complaint so the “they could pursue the matter and make an example” of this particular retailer. So told them go right ahead.
Months went by, Christmas came and went, then Easter 2015 and all the while I was told “we’re waiting on the Legal Department.” As the first anniversary rolled around I contacted the Government Legal Department, where I received little by way of consideration or understanding and even less help. To rub salt in the wound, the one piece of sage advice was “if you had engaged your own lawyer you would have had the matter settled a long time ago.”
With that I, decided to give the store owner one last opportunity to do the right thing. As school was due to start, by way of a compromise, I offered to take a much cheaper pair of shoes and avoid the need to engage lawyers. I was completely disgusted and shocked when despite being out of pocket for a year and without a pair of shoes, I was asked if I could contribute to an already much cheaper pair of shoes! I was incensed and instructed my lawyer to proceed.
Within weeks, the store’s lawyer made an offer of almost three times the cost of first pair of shoes. I felt as though the guy was prepared to roll the dice and see if I would roll over!
We at Kittivisian Life believe it’s with good reason that the store owner fancied his chances. It’s our understanding that countless Kittitians and Nevisians routinely give up their rights and take a repair or simply walk away. Perhaps it’s because these store owners know “Kittivisians” will simply “bang our mouths” and do nothing why they know the odds are in their favour.
“I was disappointed, that despite the Consumer Affairs Department talking a tough game and stressing that we have legislation on the books, the Legal Department didn’t back them up. However, we don’t need the government or Consumer Affairs department to stand up for our own rights! We should be prepared to do that much for ourselves.”
Andre, has a point. It’s time our people stood up for their rights and don’t just “bang their mouths”. Perhaps if there were more customers who were prepared to stand and be counted, fewer retailers would take advantage of our people so often.
Image courtesy of kdshutterman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net