FTC starts hearing cases brought by consumers


10-November-2011

The FTC’s board of commissioners (right) hearing the cases yesterday

Of the two cases heard yesterday, one pertains to a complaint against a contractor for collecting payment for the construction of a house, then sub-contracting the work to someone who performed below standards.

The other concerns importation and selling of a consignment of counterfeit batteries.
The cases were heard by the FTC’s five-member board of commissioners chaired by lawyer Shelton Jolicoeur, assisted by Philippe Chong Seng, Jenna Thelermont, Dolly Tirant and Annie Vidot, all from the private sector.

Presenting the cases to the FTC commissioner was consumer relations director Georges Tirant, while Chantal Barallon is FTC’s senior legal advisor.

Upon receiving a complaint, the FTC assesses the evidence and carries out the necessary investigations, before deciding whether or not to refer it to its board of commissioners for a hearing.

In the case against the building contractor, he was absent, but the complainants from Baie Lazare were represented by lawyer Daniel Cesar.  The case was brought to the attention of the FTC in August 2011.

The agreement for building the dwelling house at Baie Lazare was for R602,000, out of which R355,000 was already paid.

The tribunal heard that the contractor had, without the knowledge of the complainants, sub-contracted the work to a mason whose licence had expired. The site was later abandoned for two months, after which cracks were visible in the walls and plastering, while the roofing sheets were already rusting away. The waste water system was also found to be defective.

The contractor had meanwhile requested additional payment of R155,000 to continue the work.
Several witnesses, including officers from the Seychelles Bureau of Standards (SBS), testified that the roofing sheets were sub-standard and the general workmanship flawed in many respects.

In the case of the counterfeit batteries, the FTC carried out investigations early June after receiving complaint from an importer and reports from consumers that non-genuine Sony alkaline batteries were being sold.

A Bill of Entry obtained by the FTC revealed that a consignment of 6,000 packets of four batteries each had been imported.
Ultimately, some 1,200 packets were retrieved, meaning that the rest of the consignment had been sold.

The batteries, which were sent to the SBS for tests, were found to be defective in many ways. An SBS official testified that the casings were loose, that there were various mis-spellings on both the packaging and the batteries. Even such words as “battery” and “America” were mis-spelled.

The batteries were found to have a relatively short life, compared to genuine Sony batteries obtained from local agent Sound & Vision.

The board of commissioners will deliver judgement in both cases in three weeks’ time.

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