Businesses warned against ‘no refund-no return’ policy

THE Guyana Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission (CCAC) is mulling the publication of the names of businesses promoting a “no-refund-no-return” policy, which is an offence according to the Consumer Affairs Act.

In 2019, the CCAC embarked on a countrywide campaign to places such as Lethem, Essequibo, Bartica, Mabura and Georgetown, increasing awareness on the illegality of businesses displaying “no refund/no return” notices in stores.

However, speaking with the Guyana Chronicle recently, CCAC Director Dawn Cush said that some businesses are still shirking the law. She intends to raise the matter with new Minister of Tourism Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond Allicock to receive support to take matters a step further.

“We’re planning to publish a list of the businesses who are non-compliant; that’s what we hope to do, so that people can be guided in terms of where are the better options to shop,” she said, adding: “We do inspections, and they’re given warning; and after a certain amount of warnings, there must be some deterrent.”

According to the Consumer Affairs Act, a consumer may return a good providing that the purpose for which the good(s) were bought have changed or ceased to exist immediately after the purchase.

Consumers have up to seven days to return the product unused, not tampered with, and in its original package. Consumers can be charged up to a 10 per cent restocking fee and no more.

However, in order to receive a refund, or to return the said good, the consumer must possess the requisite receipt. After a purchase of a good or server, the consumer must be provided with a receipt detailing the purchase price, inclusive of Value Added Tax (VAT) separately; the date of purchase and a description of the good or service.

Cush told the newspaper that some consumers fall short in this area, which therefore affects their access to refunds or returns.

She said: “A lot of people offer it [goods or services] at a cheaper price, not to pay VAT. So, they don’t get a receipt. So, when they come to us now, [they don’t have it]… The receipt is the proof of purchase; they admit that they didn’t get a receipt because they didn’t pay VAT.”

The director also pointed out that there are still challenges with businesses and their issuance of warranties. The Act notes that every product purchased should have at least a six-month warranty. The Act, however, does have a few grey areas, as there is no minimum time limit that businesses can offer on warranties, when they are explicit.

A warranty is an assurance or commitment by the supplier or manufacturer that in the event the product becomes defective, a form of redress is offered during the warranty period. The warranty is not supposed to cover damage caused to the item by the consumer’s own carelessness.

Cush said that though the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the in-person inspection of the CCAC into these and other regards, inspection officers are usually swift in their dealings with such matters. It is hoped, however, that all businesses will eventually come under compliance.