In recent months, the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) has been receiving complaints about the recurrent failure of the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) to deliver service within the time frames advertised.
In an effort to assist the consumer, the FTC has been communicating with the Department to get an understanding of the reasons for its failure to perform in accordance with the terms of its advertisements. As part of the FTC’s investigation we have monitored the many advertisements issued by the RGD. The Fair Competition Act (FCA) defines advertisement as any representation made to the public. This would include information contained in application forms, on receipts issued, in radio dramatisations and disseminated during community outreach programmes. If the representations made are not honoured, the RGD would generally be considered to have breached the FCA.
In October, members of staff of the RGD and FTC met to discuss these issues. The FTC staff became aware that in many cases consumers fail to provide the information required by the RGD in order to process their applications.
The FTC reminds consumers that they have an important role to play in ensuring that they receive the services they pay for. They should therefore:
- Determine what specific document(s) such as baptismal records or immunization cards, they need to provide;
- Give accurate contact numbers and addresses for communication by the RGD staff;
- Remember that the RGD sends out certificates by registered mail, so if they ignore the registered slip, they will not receive their certificates.
Consumers should be cautious about using the services of agents when applying for certificates. There is the possibility of exposing themselves to the wiles of unscrupulous persons. Remember that the RGD is the only legitimate source for birth, death and marriage certificates.
In order for the RGD to honour the representations made in its advertisements, the consumer must supply it with full and accurate information. Where the RGD is unable to provide the certificates applied for because consumers fail to give the required information, it is not likely that the RGD will be found to be in breach of the FCA.