‘Trusted Smart Products’ Exhibit, education focus of Consumer Affairs Week

CONSUMER RIGHTS – The Department of Consumer Affairs along with representatives of Aliv hosted a press conference on Wednesday, March 6 to announced plans for World Consumer Rights Day. Pictured from left are Talia Davis, Sr. Aliv Champion; Reno Smith, Chief Price Inspector and Stephanie Ferguson, Deputy Chair, Consumer Protection Commission. (PHOTO: JENNEVA RUSSELL)

The ‘Trusted Smart Products’ Exhibition will be the highlight of Consumer Affairs Week, said organizers and sponsor of activities to observe the International Consumer Rights – Chief Price Inspector, Reno Smith; Senior Aliv Champion, Talia Davis and Deputy Chair, Consumer Protection Commission, Stephanie Ferguson.

In a press conference yesterday – Wednesday, March 6 – the trio confirmed that Consumer Affairs Week will be celebrated March 11-15.

“Our theme this year is, ‘Trusted Smart Products’ and our chief sponsor, Aliv, has agreed to partner with us to make all of their smart products available for viewing.

“Consumer Education Week begins on March 11, where we try to inform and educate the consumers of The Bahamas, but more particularly Grand Bahama and the Northern Bahamas,” said Smith.

“We have several persons who are working along with us. We anticipate the Grand Bahama Power Company, showing us some smart trusted products. The Grand Bahama Utility Company, we have Aliv, as our premier sponsor, we have the Grand Bahama Kidney Centre that will be showing us some smart products that they are using in medicine.

“But in addition to these being smart trusted products, we want people to know the ill effects and the positive side effects of trusted smart products.

“We know that there are many items beginning with phones, tablets and televisions. We know have Siri and Alexa in the country, so we need people to be aware of the good and the bad,” Smith added.

“Consumer Rights Day was founded in 1960 with the goal to fight for better, safer and sustainable future for consumers in the global market, dominated by international corporations.

“This was headed by the late J. F. Kennedy in a landmark speech to congress,” he explained.

Smith continued, “World Consumer Rights is March 15 and it was originated in 1983 to mobilize citizen action. Citizen action groups have been a large part of bringing change into the marketplace.

“Consumers have lobbied worldwide for safer products and protection from harmful practices and products. Over time, consumer movements have worked to right what is now regarded, as basic consumer rights.

“These rights include, but are not limited to, right to safety, right to satisfaction, basic needs, right to redress and right to be informed.

“We are inviting all and sundry to come and view the exhibition here in the lobby of the Harold deGregory Building beginning at 9:00 a.m. March 11.

“We will conclude with Minister Dion Foulkes leading a delegation from Nassau to address the closing ceremony on March 15,” he added.

Smith noted the Consumer Affairs Unit will be on ZNS at 10:00 a.m. ‘The Light’ each morning to share information on smart products. 

“Forums like these put on by the Ministry of Labour allow companies like ours to interact directly with consumers,” said Davis.

“Aliv, as a true digital lifestyle partner, has agreed to participate as a vendor.”

Adding that persons will be able to interact with team Aliv, Davis said, all attendees will be able to communicate with an Aliv representative one-on-one.

“We can hear from them, their issues and what they expect from companies like ours as it relates to technology.

“Moreover, it allows us to teach and introduce products and services that they may or may not be aware of.

“We are always willing to get on board with initiatives like this and look forward to more of them in the future,” she added.

Ferguson noted, “We partnered with the Consumer Affairs … our mission is about protecting the consumer.

“We ensure that all consumer rights are protected, we take complaints and we also mediate between vendors and consumers in order to facilitate some sort of ground that they can be happy.”

She revealed, “We have been in place since 2006, but in the past four years is when the Consumer Protection Commission really started to make traction.

“The complaints are our main objective, to ensure that consumers rights are protected and they can find some sort of justification or validation in their complaints.”

Ferguson noted if the Commission is not able to assist with a problem, they would deliver their clients to an authority that is able to help.

“One of the things that comes with smart products, is the bad, therefore, we are about educating consumers on what their rights are. We also want to educate vendors on making sure consumer rights’ are protected.

“We find here in The Bahamas, there are a lot of vendors that don’t put up proper return policies. There are certain fees that are implemented and when the consumers get to that point where they want to return an item, there needs to be education.

“With respects to the smart items, we are looking at both the good and the bad.

“We are trying to educate our consumers on their rights with respect to smart products, especially as we live in a world of when something is placed on the Internet, you can’t get it back.

“We want consumers to know about the products they are using. Right now, we are entering into an era where our homes are going to become smart, the cities are becoming a smart city.

“A lot of people who are not tech savvy need to come and learn how to adjust and how to come into the 21 Century in order to have an easier life.

“Once we are more educated, I think it will assist people more,” concluded Ferguson.

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