What is my recourse for a consumer complaint?

| 10/05/2019 | 30 Comments
Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian status

I’ve been dealing with a store clerk for over a month now about an unravelling designer bag that is still under the designer’s warranty. The clerk has told me the manager is dealing with my complaint however the manager has not responded to me or returned any of my requests for her to call me. I’m not entirely certain that the clerk has passed my complaint to her manager at all, and I have no way to contact the manager of the store directly – as all calls go through the clerk. Is there anything I can do?


Auntie’s answer: I’m afraid the short response is, not much. I have received several questions over the last few years from readers needing help with consumer-related issues and my answers have been about the same: there is no legal recourse in Cayman to protect against unfair trading practices.

But you may also be aware that there is a bill on consumer protection that has been in the works for several years. We are not there yet, though I can offer an update on the process thanks to an official at the Law Reform Commission (LRC).

Originally, the Consumer Protection Bill went out for public consultation in 2017. The period to submit comments was then extended in 2018, during which the LRC “received comments from several stakeholders”. The commission is now reviewing those comments to “determine the way forward”, the official explained.

That review can lead in one of two directions, either “rethinking the content of the bill or maintaining our position on the form the bill should assume”. In the first case that would mean making a revised bill available for public consultation, after which the LRC would finalise its recommendations.

At this point, though the official is not able to say when this whole process will be concluded, he stressed that “this is an issue that remains very active on our law reform agenda”.

Clearly, none of that helps you with your dispute over the unravelling bag. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. I think it is time to make a bit more noise. I am not sure how demanding you have been about seeing the manager; it sounds like you have been very polite so far and I think the situation now calls for you to be a bit less so. It is not the clerk’s job to protect the manager from complaints. The manager should be the one dealing with unhappy customers.

Is it possible for you to determine who actually owns or operates the store and take your issue directly to them? It always helps to get as close to the top of the management pyramid as possible, until you find the person who has to take responsibility.

I am sure you have much better ways to use your time, but until there is legislation protecting consumers, I don’t see anything else you can do.

Read the draft Consumer Protection Bill in the CNS Library

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Comments (30)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This thread is very misleading and can cause unnecessary hardship to any business in the Cayman Islands.

    Just because a customer purchases an item that says it has a warranty or usually
    “limited warranty” does not mean the store is responsible for the end user warranty.

    The warranty is with the “end user” and the simple thing to do is to email or check the website of the company that makes the products.

    They would usually have the guidelines as to how to claim a warranty process, which usually starts with a receipt or proof of purchase.
    On numerous occasions once those guidelines are followed the companies responsible for the item will offer a reasonable solution.

    Please do not confuse warranty with dislike of a product.

    Some items have a protection code to identify the product is real or fake.

    Blaming a business here in the Cayman Islands for a product gets real personal.

    Sometimes the business owners especially new companies to the market that do not understand the global markets can easily be sold fake items without even knowing the difference. Everything made has a fake clone available to offer in its place.

    Please be reasonable with the expectations of purchasing items in the Cayman Islands and first seek the end user warranty provided by the maker of the item.

    Blaming local companies is very childish. When locals go to Miami and buy junk or have issues they do not make a fuss, because it’s bought “in the states”.

    For clarity, if a reseller tries to make a claim, the maker of the items will advise to have the end user contact them as per procedures. Otherwise common sense would tell you that there would be an abuse of the process.

    Following through on the end user warranty process also gives the maker or manufacturer of the items some feedback for them to track and improve on products.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m not saying this to be mean but, you must be new around here… (And I am sorry that you have been scammed)

    As someone else said previously, the best guess is that the bag is a fake which is why they are trying to brush you off.
    For the store to represent it as ‘real’ is shameful but not surprising for around here..

    And yes, we’d all like to know the name of this ‘high end’ store that is selling fakes. Just tell which condo is located in front of it and we can guess. I’ll best it is not in West Shore, 7 Mile Shops nor Galleria because none of those stores are what I would consider ‘high end’. I’d guess either Caribbean Plaza or The Strand. Other than that, I wouldn’t believe any of them.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Here are the facts. If you live in the Cayman Islands you have no one on your side. Businesses can screw you at will.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Only if you allow them. Noone other than law needs to be on “your” side. Make this case a “poster” case.

    • Anonymous says:

      Another victim of the whacky private sector. Don’t worry our world class civil service will sort it out for you Just complain to DCI

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for all the responses! And the detailed response Auntie. I did initially go to the store, twice, but the manager was never there. I did also maintain a professional approach until I got frustrated with the clerk, at which point she just consistently stated that they only have a 7 day return policy and refused to acknowledge the warranty that came with the bag.

    I bought the bag new, at what I would have thought of as a high end store on SMB – the store sells designer bags and expensive clothing. I’ll try a few of the suggestions in these comments before finally naming and shaming the store. Although it is exasperating.

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    • Anonymous says:

      SMB aka Camana Bay?

    • Anonymous says:

      Being professional means having indisputable law supporting your claim. Talk to an attorney. Consultations are usually free. Take the retailer to small claims court. This
      kind of practice must be stopped in the Cayman islands. The retailers would lose more if people refuse to buy their goods. Negative publicity would bankrupt them.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think we can all guess which store you’re referring to so all I can say is…you’re screwed…she’ll never give you your money back and it’s so short sighted as you will likely never buy anything in any of her stores moving forward or many of your friends…
      Shame…

  5. Anonymous says:

    Not sure it this is the case: if the item is from a second-hand point of sale, like one of our several thrift stores, then all sales are final, and there can’t be any reasonable expectation of a designer warranty claim.

  6. Stand on your own feet says:

    No warranty or guarantee on goods manufacturered overseas is valid in the Cayman Islands. Motor veihicle dealers do honour the manufacturers’ warranties because they have to as part of their franchise agreements; as for anything else, forget it.
    Caveat Emptor!

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    • Anonymous says:

      @11:02 am please provide a reference to your statement. Where is it written?

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      • Stan on your own Feet says:

        In the fine print of every guarantee. ‘The original purchaser’ is covered by the guarantee within the country of manufacture.
        As pojnted out by the poster at 1.12pm everything imported into the Cayman Islands comes from a freight forwarder, consolidator, cash-and-carry warehouse or wholesaler, none of whom will honour any guarantee if and when a claim is made by the C.I. importer.
        You cannot expect the local retailer to just swallow the loss if they themselves cannot obtain redress from their supplier who may well be three or four steps away from the manufacturer. Suppose the goods were actually imported into, say, the U.S.A. and then sold on to Cayman; can the U.S. importer claim against a manufacturer in, say, China? Of course not.

        If you want the benefits(?) of living in a large country where ‘consumer protection’ exists, then go and live there.

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    • Anonymous says:

      @11:02 am Everything that is sold in Cayman was manufactured overseas. Cayman consumers must have some recourse for it is not a developing 3d world country where everything goes. Cayman prides itself for being a Global financial centre.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Most goods (particularly electrical and electronics) imported into these islands seem to be what are commonly referred to a ‘grey’ imports. That means they’ve come from a retail source like a large discount warehouse and, because the buyer is not the original purchaser, any warranty is void – they’re technically secondhand. I haven’t seen this recently but we also used to get a lot of goods that are clearly marked with labels along the lines of ‘Not for sale (or resale) in the USA’. Basically, we’re being screwed over and it been going on for years. I remember moves to bring in proper consumer protect laws here back in 2006/7 and they were killed off straight away.

      As you say, ‘Let the buyer beware’.

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      • Anonymous says:

        This is your interpretation. There must be recourse. Cayman retailers must not do what they’re pleased. If you allow them, they would.

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    • Johnny Be Good says:

      I beg to differ, I own a vehicle for which there is no dealer here in Cayman. The vehicle manufacturer has provided all necessary support for warranty and recall work through adequately certified mechanics here and at no cost to me. The same applies to my HVAC equipment which I purchased through a very reputable dealer in the USA.

      That said I would never purchase a new vehicle here since the local dealers actually over-inflate the invoice price with what it costs them to honour any kind of warranty here. As with electronics, its very difficult to find the best rated item you want here on any shelves except for special order which usually attracts another hefty over-inflated price tag.

      There are some very reputable vendors on island that do have true wholesale purchasing clout in the USA, though few they offer true savings over my purchasing it overseas myself. Many vendors in Cayman buy at retail prices in the USA and then mark up anywhere from 100%-300% and expect you to believe that you’re getting a deal and possibly a warranty. This is a good spin for those with more money than brains!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Vehicle Safety TSB and recalls only if an imported vehicle VIN can be transferred here, and good luck with that.

  7. Anonymous says:

    My first thought also was that the bag is fake because that would explain both the unraveling and the reason why the store is giving the customer the run-around.

    Fake goods are a problem in Cayman (just as in the rest of the world) and I was pleased to learn from a recent article in the Compass that Cayman is making efforts to educate high school students to recognize and avoid fakes.

    You can’t say for sure that it is fake without more information and detailed pictures of the bag, but think that the customer should demand a full refund and keep making a lot of noise until she gets her money back. No expensive designer bag should start falling apart shortly after purchase and high-quality merchants should respond promptly to customer complaints.

    Most fashion designers have a process for reporting counterfeit goods, for example you can use the link below to report a fraudulent Coach bag:

    https://www.coach.com/brand-protection-form.html

  8. Anonymous says:

    If you act as a victim or beggar, they treat you accordingly. Present yourself professionally, but in a calm manner.
    Gratefully and thankfully there is no such problems in the US. The UK also has the law which regulates the sale and purchase of goods and services.

    You don’t need to be a lawyer to know about Uniform Commercial Code and implied (unwritten and unspoken) warranties. There are two main kinds of implied warranties:

    1. Implied Warranty of Merchantability. Every consumer product purchase comes with an implied warranty of merchantability, which means it is guaranteed to work if used for its intended purpose. Basically guaranteeing that goods sold will do what they are supposed to do; have nothing significantly wrong with them; and are fit to be sold.

    2. Implied Warranty of Fitness. This means that a product is guaranteed for a specific purpose, beyond the lower threshold of merchantability. So if you asked a salesperson to recommend a blender specifically for making frozen cocktails, but the one that’s recommended turns out to not have enough power to crush ice cubes, then you may return the item under its implied warranty of fitness.

    Consumers always have at least some recourse for goods that don’t live up to basic expectations.

    Take your unravelling designer bag to the store. The clerk must take it back.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    How about just go down to the establishment to speak to the manager personally.
    If they’re not in, ask for the name. They can’t NOT tell you the managers name.. Get the name, look her up on FB and send a private message. See if the store has a presence on social media. I’ll bet the designer does. If there is a warranty in place then the designer may care how you’re being dealt with. Send them a message.
    Above all else, remain kind and professional even though at this point I am sure you are very frustrated.
    My 2 cents even though nobody asked me… ;0)

  10. Anonymous says:

    Take a picture of their T&B, which must be on display, with reg’d address. Send owner a letter by reg’d mail. Tell them you had tried to reach them via store clerk X on dates. You may remind them in that letter that many people in this age would take to social media, and that you haven’t out of discretion and hope for resolution. Keep it cordial but firm. If that doesn’t start ball rolling your way, go to DCI and file a grievance against the store. If you look like you know what you are doing and are papering a file for a much bigger T&B problem, it would be commercial suicide to ignore your first letter, particularly in such a small and fickle retail environment.

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  11. J|) says:

    That ‘designer’ back is fake, sorry ma dear

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    • Anonymous says:

      Doesn’t matter. They have to take it back.

      • Anonymous says:

        Maybe…but complaint doesn’t specify if this was a new point of sale purchase or a second-hand purchase from one of our several thrift stores. If the later, caveat emptor, and good day to you, ma’am.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Are you serious? You think she bothered to write in on a bag she bought at the Humane Society thrift store? You think she thought the thrift store would honor a warranty? Do you even know what a warranty is? Most warranties are for the original purchaser anyway.
          Good day to you pal

        • Anonymous says:

          @11:34 you must be running one of the stores where they sell counterfeited goods. She must file a case in a small claims court just to make a point and keep Auntie and us in the loop of the entire process. May be she will be the one having the last laugh. This is a civilized country run by law and order, not anarchy. Even if there is no consumer protection laws in this country, a judge would not side with the store owner.

    • Anonymous says:

      If it is then the store may be committing a crime. Report it to the police.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Ummm, the Trade and Business authorities should not be renewing licenses of unscrupulous businesses. Not saying your issue rises to that level, but a complaint could be filed with dci.

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