The Competition and Consumers Affairs Commission (CCAC) is reporting a 20 per cent increase in consumer complaints this year so far compared to the corresponding period in 2022.
Head of the Consumer Affairs Unit, Rusante Perry said 469 complaints valued at an excess of $400 million were lodged. Of this number, 395 were resolved, resulting in $125 million being returned to consumers.
According to Perry, an unprecedented and alarming number of complaints were made for the construction industry, which is currently experiencing an economic boom due to government’s housing drive.
“A small amount of the complaints are related to material but a considerable percentage is based on the substandard work that consumers are receiving or incomplete work, meaning they pay the contractor X amount to complete the project and the contractor abandons the project.
“So, we have a lot of those coming in where consumers are unable to reach out to those contractors even though their work was not completed,” Perry stated.
According to Perry, the commission will amplify its efforts in 2024, to education new land and home owners about the dos and don’ts when selecting a contractor, purchasing materials and providing payment in advance for works to be completed.
In the meantime, Perry is urging citizens to utilise the information provided in the commission’s home builder road map, which was established in 2020 as a guide for those new to the industry.
“We usually have to have an independent expert involved in these cases because we are not experts in construction so we usually contract let’s say a civil engineer to assess the work and that will be based on the quality as well as the incompleteness of the work. They usually have to give us a cost to complete it and so on, based on that we carryout the investigation, if its not completed at the investigative, then it is forward to the board for hearing,” she said.
Recently, radio personality, Feliz Robertson took to social media detailing her harrowing experience with a shoddy contractor, who shafted her out of approximately $4 million which she advanced him to construct her home.
Due to the subpar work from the contractor, Robertson found herself in need of significant repairs to her home, which she was notified of after having a professional engineer examine the building.
Robertson used the opportunity to appeal to the Guyanese public to operate with due diligence and do background checks on contractors before hiring them.
Meanwhile, real estate director Mohammed Shaheed, of Patentia, West Bank Demerara, was on November 4 arraigned before Senior Magistrate Leron Daly at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts on charges of receiving money under false pretenses.
The father of five is accused of deceiving Terrence Sobers into giving him $26 million between April 15, 2021 and July 25, 2023 by pretending to be in a position to purchase land and build houses.
Shaheed was placed on bail in the sum of $500,000, and is scheduled to reappear in court later this month.
The Competition and Consumers Affairs Commission said that it will be amplifying its business compliant inspection exercises in 2024 to ensure the items being advertised by suppliers are appropriate for sale.
Additionally, the commission will also be creating more sensitization content, which will be administered through social media platforms as well as on radio and television.
This is in an effort to educate consumers and suppliers about their rights as stipulated in the Consumer Affairs Act.
Further, the commission is reminding citizens to always collect receipts and warranty for items purchased, since these documents are crucial for resolving cases.