News Release: HAMILTON, Bermuda – The Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Reform is pleased to announce the official launch of the newly designed Consumer Affairs Website. As part of the design and development of the new website, deliberate attention was taken regarding the technological needs of the public and the issues faced by Bermudian residents when utilising online/electronic educational platforms. The website aims to bridge the “digital divide” experienced by users with reading or educational limitations restricting their ability to educate themselves on their consumer rights.
The core principles which guided the development of the new Consumer Affairs website were “accessibility” and “inclusivity”, which resulted in the production of a user-friendly online platform intended to educate the residents of Bermuda of legal rights and responsibilities as consumers, landlords, tenants, businesses, and debtors dealing with commercial enterprises.
Kathy Lynn Simmons, Minister of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Reform, the Minister responsible for Consumer Affairs, emphasized the importance of the Consumer Affairs Board’s responsibility, as outlined in the Consumer Protection Act 1999, to educate the public on their consumer rights when purchasing goods and services, as well as the rights of landlords, tenants, debtors, and best practices for businesses.
The new Consumer Affairs website, accessible at www.consumeraffairs.bm, is specifically designed to optimise accessibility features across various devices such as mobile phones, laptops, and desktops. Through the accessibility features available on most electronic devices, users of the new Consumer Affairs website can effectively utilise text-to-speech tools and customise such tools to fit their specific needs (i.e. cadence and tempo, language of choice).
Key features of the website include:
- Formal Complaint Submission: Consumers can electronically submit complaints against consumer goods and service providers. The website offers various landlord and tenant rental application forms and fifteen letter templates to assist consumers in corresponding with service providers or landlords.
- Free-to-Download Educational Handbooks and Letter Templates: In conjunction with the Government of Bermuda’s intention to shift to go paperless and reduce waste, users can readily download comprehensive handbooks and educational materials covering numerous topics concerning Consumer Goods and Services, Landlord & Tenant matters, and Debt & Finance. Additionally, users now have access to several letter templates that may be used as guidance when formally corresponding with providers of consumer goods and services or landlords. They may be amended to reflect their circumstances.
- Feedback Submission: As part of the Government of Bermuda’s initiative to improve departmental service standards, visitors to the new Consumer Affairs website can provide feedback on the performance of Consumer Affairs and the Rent Commission. This feedback will be vital in shaping and improving Consumer Affairs’ internal policies and procedures.
- Rent Control Online Applications (i.e. Rent Increase Requests, Rent Confirmation Requests): In addition to physically visiting the office of Consumer Affairs and Rent Control to submit a rent increase application, landlords of properties falling under Rent Control can electronically download the required rent increase application forms and submit them online. Furthermore, landlords and tenants of rent-controlled properties are further afforded the ability to electronically submit a rent confirmation request to determine their property’s registered rent.
Minister Kathy Lynn Simmons said: “These educational resources empower residents to understand their inherent rights within the marketplace and address any concerns they may have with goods and service providers. The aim is to foster a successful marketplace where businesses can thrive and consumers can trust in a transparent and open market. The educational initiatives also allow businesses to familiarise themselves with the consumer protection framework and remain compliant with Bermuda’s governing legislation.”