Empowering Consumers in T&T

March 20th, 2024

NL192 Understanding Consumer Rights in T&T banner

Like many other countries, Trinidad and Tobago has implemented legislation to safeguard consumer rights and establish avenues for recourse in case of infringement. Consumers in T&T are entitled to certain rights to ensure their safety, satisfaction, and access to essential goods and services. These include the Right to Safety, the Right to Complain, the Right to Choose, the Right to Information, and the Right to Consumer Education.

Bevan Narinesingh, Executive Director of the T&T Fair Trading Commission, recently underscored the urgent need to prioritise consumer interests in T&T and, more importantly, to enhance collaboration between the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Consumer Affairs Division and other regulatory bodies. This collaboration would involve sharing information, including data and insights on market practices, to identify trends and issues impacting consumer interests locally. Narinesingh also highlighted the importance of policy coordination to ensure that regulations promote fair markets and protect consumer rights.

Seeking consumer protection?
If you encounter any issue with a product or service and wish to seek redress, you should first stop using the item and notify the company. Engage with senior management, providing details about the problem and specifying what form of redress you seek, whether a refund, repair, or replacement. Retain copies of your receipts, warranties, and all relevant documentation. If you are unable to resolve the issue directly, contact the Consumer Affairs Division (hyperlink to https://tradeind.gov.tt/consumer-affairs-division/) to file a formal complaint. While the length of time for resolution varies depending on the complexity of the case, the Division strives to conclude investigations promptly.

Former President of the Assembly of Southern Lawyers and Head of Chambers at Imran S. Khan and Company, Attorney-at-Law Imran Khan, weighed in, “Generally, I think it is a lack of awareness and a lack of education amongst the public, not just with consumers and what are their rights, what recourse they may have, but more so with the merchant.” Khan proposes two key recommendations to improve consumer relations in T&T: further development of consumer rights legislation and increased awareness and education among the population. He stressed the need to educate both merchants and consumers in order to establish an effective system that safeguards consumer rights and promotes fair practices.

Effective consumer protection requires collaborative efforts. By reporting problems and seeking redress, T&T consumers can contribute to a safer and more equitable marketplace for everyone.

By Bavina Sookdeo