High costs, delays major issues for consumers


A study of the local construction industry by the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) has confirmed that consumers are experiencing several problems, including high costs and delays.
To this end the FTC, the local regulatory body has suggested that there is need to establish an association comprising contractors and builders. 
This comes as former FTC Chairman, Sir Neville Nicholls, reported breaches of the Consumer Protection Act during the Commission last financial year. 
The suggestion that the association be set up is one of the recommendations outlined by the FTC in its annual report for last year.
The suggestion also comes following a study on the industry the Commission had undertaken in light of complaints it had received by consumers.
The FTC said that it had convened a workshop with construction industry personnel to discuss the findings of a study and to receive feedback.
It was agreed that apart from the creation of the association, contractors and builders should be licensed, a list of certified  contractors should be compiled for use by consumers; and that sanctions should be applicable where contractors and tradesmen fall below required standards.
According to the FTC, the study sought to determine the issues that were negatively impacting consumers who were constructing or renovating their homes.
“The need for the study was based on the receipt of several complaints from consumers who expressed the view that some contractors were overcharging, providing poor quality service, defaulting on timely completion of work, accepting monies and not completing work, and refusing to deal effectively with their complaints,” said the Regulatory body.
The FTC said that as one of the agencies responsible for consumer protection, it is mandated to safeguard consumers from Unfair Trade Policies and Unfair Contract Terms through the enforcement of the Consumer Protection Act.
Former Chairman Sir Neville Nicholls said that standard  form contracts from industries including construction, banking and telecommunications were reviewed and found to contain 1 590 terms. 
“Seventy one terms were found to be in breach of the Consumer Protection Act and the relevant businesses were requested to amend or to delete the terms,” said Sir Neville.
The Commission said it seeks to highlight to consumers the importance of knowing their rights and responsibilities and being proactive when matters arise.

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