Tricia Rawlins, Communications Officer in the Department of Consumer Affairs, elaborated on how the new legislation is designed to act as a deterrent against habitual offenses.
“In the past, all we could do was remove non-compliant items and advise business owners of the deficiencies found, requesting them to rectify the situation,” Rawlins explained. “Now, with the ability to issue tickets or citations, we hope this will encourage businesses to adhere to consumer protection laws more diligently.”
The legislation is not limited to addressing expired goods but also targets other violations that pose health risks to consumers. Rawlins highlighted the issue of products, particularly medications, being sold with labels not in English. Such instances have led to alarming situations where consumers, unable to understand the dosing instructions, have inadvertently put their health at risk.
“We have had complaints where consumers bought medication for a child, and upon consulting a doctor, they realize they have been unknowingly overdosing their child because the instructions were not clear or understandable,” Rawlins said.
The Department of Consumer Affairs emphasized that the introduction of citations is not a revenue-generating measure but is intended to prompt businesses to become compliant with consumer protection laws.
“We are not just trying to make money off of businesses,” Rawlins assured. “We are hoping that this deterrent would push businesses to prioritize the health and well-being of consumers by becoming compliant with consumer protection laws,” she added.
She further stated that the Department of Consumer Affairs is committed to ensuring the safety and rights of consumers and appreciates the cooperation of all businesses in adhering to the guidelines outlined in the Consumer Protection Bill, 2023.