Seychelles Fair Trading Commission says number of complaints dropped 42 pct in 2019
Complaints against services by construction companies dropped in 2019 compared to 2018. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The number of complaints dropped 42 percent in 2019 compared to the year before, but those against construction services still represented the highest single complaint category received by the Seychelles Fair Trading Commission, a top official said.
The chief executive of the Commission, Francis Lebon, told SNA recently that the complaints were "most specifically with regards to the services provided by draftsmen."
Lebon said the number of cases dropped to 150 last year compared with 214 in 2018, representing a 42 percent decrease.
Out of the 150 complaints lodged last year, 89 were related to consumer services and 61 to consumer goods.
"The staff in my department has worked really hard to bring down the number of cases lodged in order to prevent it from rolling over into the next year," said Lebon.
The Commission said that the total value of the cases lodged amounted to around $7 million (SCR91,233,979). Lebon said the amount is very significant and gives an indication of how complex the cases are.
A total fine of $36,439 (SCR 497,000) was imposed in 2019 by the Board of Commissioners on companies or individuals found to be in breach of the Seychelles' Consumer Protection Act. Some of the cases date back to 2017 and 2018.
Lebon said that the decrease can also be attributed to the commission's advocacy and educational programme.
"When consumers are more aware of their rights and their responsibilities, they can make decisions at their own level to the supplier of goods or services," he said.
A total of 141 cases were discontinued and these include cases that have been remedied or did not require investigation as they did not fall under the ambit of the Commission.
The Fair Trading Commission is tasked with evaluating and investigating complaints lodged by consumers in relation to the supply of services. An investigation is conducted to establish whether or not there has been a breach of the Consumer Protection Act of 2010.
The Commission also has an office on the second most populated island, Praslin, which recorded 10 cases last year.
"We have increased our routine inspections from 47 in 2018 to 72 in 2019, with the aim of creating more awareness and to report any instances of non-compliance," said Lebon.
On the question of fair competition on the market and between businesses, Lebon said that the Commission is doing its best to prevent unfair practices.
"Companies and individuals should always think about fair trade when they are selling a service or product to someone, while consumers should always look for goods and services with value for money," he advised.