Friday, March 17, 2023
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) is concerned that some Bay Street businesses are targeting tourists and overcharging them for items they had agreed to purchase at a certain price.
Lavade Darling, education, CPC research and training manager, said cruise ship passengers appear to be the ones that are mostly targeted and committed officials to addressing the issue.
“They would purchase an item for an X amount of dollars. They would give you some free items and when these tourists get back to our homes, they find that the credit card has been charged 10,000 or 15,000 for an item that really should’ve cost only what they agreed to purchase,” he said at the weekly press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday.
“That is a major concern for us. We are working with the other relevant agencies to address that. It’s not something that we can address on our own so tourism is aware and we are working with them to resolve these issues.”
Mr Darling addressed the matter while giving an overview to reporters on the complaints the department has received over the years.
Most complaints made to the commission are from people wanting a refund.
Others are related to timeshares, he added.
“So, persons basically purchase a timeshare, they want out of it, right and the Act provides the conditions under which you can get out of your timeshare. The problem is that the timeshare operators are not giving them the opportunity to get out of their timeshare. So that’s a major concern for us.”
Additionally, there have been complaints about credit and debit card fees, which Mr Darling said is something that comes up quite regularly.
He noted the recent frustrations expressed by gas retailers over the issue and said the commission intends to see how they can lower costs with respect to their credit card and debit card fees.
“The merchant services agreement for using a credit card stipulates that you’re not supposed to have a minimum purchase and you’re not supposed to be charging a convenience fee to use a credit or debit card,” he said.
“So that is a matter of major concern for us, and how are we addressing it – we had a meeting recently with Central Bank to speak about that and we did and one of the things that came out of that meeting is that we’re going to be looking at introducing legislation to actually enforce the merchant services agreement.”
He said using a credit and debit card should not be more expensive than using cash and that “it goes against the stated policy objective of the government of The Bahamas.”
“So, as the statutory agency, those types of matters are a concern for us and we are addressing them so what we are going to do is develop a financial literacy campaign that we expect to launch in a few months and we’re going to speak to particularly small businesses about how you can lower your cost.”
He also revealed that the body wants to strengthen legislation to better deal with complaints made against cemeteries and funeral homes as the industry largely remains unregulated.