Consumer Rights Groups Demand Better Service

THE St. Lucia Organisation for Consumer Affairs and The Independent Non Government Consumer Organisations’s (NGOs) in the Organisation for Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and CARICOM welcome the call to support the theme for this year’s observance of World Consumer Rights Day – “Building a digital world we can trust”.

As members of the OECS, we collectively support the need for a telecommunication sector we can trust, which are reliable and protect consumers within our individual countries.

President John F Kennedy, who gave an address to the US congress on 15 March 1962, in which he formally addressed the issue of consumer rights, inspired WCRD. He was the first world leader to do so, and the consumer movement now marks that date every year as a means of raising global awareness about consumer rights. The first WCRD was observed on 15 March 1983, and has since become an important occasion for mobilizing citizen action.

Consumers here in the OECS are extremely concerned about the growing lack of trust in our telecommunication providers. As we all share a common telecom platform through the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Limited (ECTEL), we are mindful of the many challenges consumers are facing in this sub region.

As consumer advocates, we are concerned about these four areas:
• Access and choice: consumer access to affordable, quality connections and a range of trusted providers.
* Online redress: consumer access to effective, fair, and easy–to-use online redress systems.
• Clear and informed choices: understanding and controlling consumer data online, and understanding information about digital products and services.
• Online security: ensuring consumer data is secure and that companies take responsibility in the event of a security breach.

The NGO Consumer organizations, in association with Consumers International (CI) stand in solidarity with the call for reliable, accurate and trustworthy service for all. We are making a clarion call for all consumers to participate in awareness activities during the observance on March 15th in their respective countries.

As advocates for consumers, we are aware of consumers’ lack of awareness and education on the right’s and responsibilities, especially in this digital age and in this changing society. We welcome CARICOM’s commitment to develop and support for the independent NGO consumer sector. We call on governments’ consumer agencies to partner with us in ensuring that consumer’s voices are heard and respected.

The soon to be enacted consumer protection legislation, which is finally coming to reality with the establishment of a Consumer Protection Advisory Commission (CPAC), is indeed a welcome initiative, something that should have happened several years ago.

Building on a telecom sector that consumer can trust will enable consumer to get value for money, fair pricing and rates, adequate quality of services and an opportunity for redress, when rights are violated.

We call on all consumers to participate in the discussion for a just and fair system. We further call on our governments and leaders to ensure that intersect of consumers are adequately served. Additionally, we call for public education programmes in the media and that relevant information be made available and accessible to all consumers and stakeholders.

We Support the campaign and the theme: “Consumer Education is Consumer Protection.”

* Grenada Organisation for Consumer Affairs – (473) 417-6889/4043178 (Milton J Coy)
* National Consumer Association (St. Lucia) Inc. – (758) 258- 5537 (C/o Kingsley St. Hill)
* St Vincent & the Grenadines Consumer Association – (784) 456 – 1873 (Junior Bacchus)

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