Competition, Consumer Affairs Commission says Hire Purchase agreements should be reviewed

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In light of a number of reports stemming from the auto industry in relation to a number of issues, the Guyana Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission (CCAC) on Wednesday made a call for the Hire Purchase (HP) agreement to be reviewed.

The call was made by the Chairman of the Department, Attorney-at-law, Ronald Burch-Smith during the launch of its first website.

He explained, “One of the things about the auto industry is that many of the dealers offer payment terms (and) the contracts aren’t standard and they are sometimes unfair…I think one of the things that would make a big difference is a revised hire purchase agreement that gives clearer provisions and maybe set standard terms so that everyone is regulated by the same terms”.

The Chairman alluded to the fact that while customers are allowed to make complaints against unscrupulous auto dealers, the legislation also safeguards them against “unscrupulous customers”.

Chairman of CCAC, Ronald Burch-Smith

According to him, the CCAC is at this time only responsible for giving suggestions as it relates to the reviewed laws, while the Business Minister, Dominic Gaskin will in this case be responsible for throwing the matter on the table before the Attorney General, Basil Williams.

“We make recommendations, and the issue has popped up a few times, but the new legislation would have to come from the Attorney General, perhaps at the request of the Ministry of Business. As far as I know there is no actual plan to do so, it’s just something we would have observed that will be helpful, that if there was a revised hire purchase agreement and perhaps standardized terms for contracts such as auto sales, it would make a big difference,” Burch-Smith clarified.

One auto customer, who was at the event, told the gathering that he feels he was exploited since his transmission, (part of the vehicle which changes gears) was damaged in a mere six months.

Though persons ridiculed that he was a bad driver, the man maintained that the warranty period of vehicles ought to be extended from the present six months.

He argued that “a vehicle isn’t a cell phone” especially since so much money is generally spent to make the purchase, the customer would look forward to some form of assurance.

His concern was timely addressed by one of the CCAC representatives there who informed that  “Currently we have up to six months (in our policy for warranty) but it is something under review that we would like to look into based on used vehicles, new vehicles because they have different things that should be applied (or) different periods that should be applied”.

The woman explained that the CCAC currently has a vehicle inspection checklist which should be used by potential buyers to ensure they get the best of their cash.

She added, “You (can) take a mechanic, a competent mechanic to check this out for you because a vehicle is a very important purchase, it’s expensive”.

At the event held at the Herdmanston’s Lodge in St. Peter Rose Street, Georgetown, the CCAC highlighted that auto dealers across the country have been selling inferior products to their customers.

This was evident in the number of reports the Department received which reportedly increased when compared with last year’s reports.

INews was told that some 27 reports were made by customers of vehicles through the period January 2017 to June 2018.

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