As of May 30, 2008, Dominican consumers have a new instrument to protect their rights. The General Law of Consumers and Users Rights and Protection. With Law 263-08 now in effect, service providers are now required to operate under a legal framework, which requires strict adherence to laws, orders and regulations regulated by administrative decree, especially in the area of public services. Furthermore, in accordance with the new legislation, service providers will have effective mechanisms to address complaints related to the service in question.
The law indicates that authorities will have offices with trained personnel to orient consumers and users and guarantee their rights. The law foresees the carrying out of inspections that will be done in coordination with representatives of the organization’s regulators.
At the same time, the Consumer Protection Law establishes that service providers or renters must inform users of exact prices and give out printed receipts that give the full breakdown of costs, including tax.
All prices of goods and services will be indicated in national currency. If a price has been established in a foreign currency, its equivalent in national currency must be indicated.
In terms of complaints on services provided, the law states that complaints will be dealt with according to the sector where it has been registered; each sector will have authority over its own services.
However, if the complaint has not been dealt with by the appropriate regional or local authorities, the consumer has the right to petition directly to the Pro-Consumer organization to seek a solution and to investigate the issue or controversy in an effort to rectify the violations against the consumer and to find a favorable solution for the user. The new law guarantees that Pro-Consumer will protect citizens who seek its service, guaranteeing that all measurements and weights used in the public area are weighed using the proper instruments and scales, and in the case of measuring liquids as well as taxicab meters will also be closely monitored.
In the area of health, protections include the use of clinical thermometers and blood pressure machines and environmental protection from traffic among other things.
Other areas of protection for consumers of goods and services involve the providers’ obligation to inform and orient users in a clear, simple and precise manner about the product or service on offer. All such instruction must be done in the Spanish language so that the product or service can be utilized or assimilated easily by the users.
To see Law No. 358-05, about Consumer Protection (PDF): http://www.dominicana-online.org/documentos/Ley_proteccion.pdf
To see Decree No. 263-08, Consumer Protection Application (PDF): http://www.dominicana-online.org/documentos/Decreto_consumidor.pdf
The opening of Pro-Consumidor provided a Customer Service Center equipped with 24 automated telephone lines, a Consumer Orientation office, a department for Arbitration and Conciliation to preside over conflicts that may arise in customer and provider relations.
With the passage of Law 263-08, service providers are now required to function under a legal framework that requires a strict adherence to laws, orders and regulations regulated by administrative decree, especially in the area of public services.
The law defends and guarantees the rights of consumers including their right to life, health, physical safety, education, information, the protection of their economic interests, the timely repair and upkeep of their belongings, the right to organize and seek legal representation, the right to free elections and the right to live and work in a free and safe environment. It also provides the right to educate, promote and gather information about needs, interests and problems of consumers and users.
The National Institute for Consumer Rights Protection, Pro-Consumidor, is the state body created through the General Law of Consumer Rights Protection (358-05), with the aim of establishing and regulating the policies, norms and procedures needed for the effective protection of the rights of consumers in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Constitution of January 26, 2010, in its article 53, gives fundamental right to the provisions of consumer protection. These are “by public demand, imperative and of social interest.” The constitution, states that “every person has the right to quality goods and services, to objective accurate and timely information about the content and characteristics of products and services that one uses and consumes, under the previsions and norms established by the law…” This constitutional provision ratifies the establishment of a body for the protection, guarantee, security and defense of consumers in their relationships with providers of goods and services.
In 1963, during the constitutional government presided over by Juan Bosch, Law No. 13 of Popular Economy Protection was enacted. With this provision the Dominican Republic assumed the defense of the consumer population under the associated criteria of that time, whose benchmarks were prices, availability and quality of products. This event took place a year after the President of the United States, John. F. Kennedy, in a historic speech, proclaimed: “we are all consumers,” recognizing four basic rights of consumers.
On April 9, 1985 the Guidelines for Consumer Protection were established, approved by acclamation in the United Nations General Assembly, through Resolution No. 39/248, and broadened in 1999, which specifies the role that governments must play in protecting and safeguarding the interests and rights of consumers.
Ten years later, on January 20, 1995, through the National Congress’ Resolution No. 2-95, enacted by the Executive Power, the Dominican Republic ratified the Marrakesh Agreement, which established the World Trade Organization (WTO). This agreement, among other goals, called for the countries in the economic-trade group to facilitate the improvement of living standards for consumers.
Within this context came the General Law of Consumer Rights Protection, No. 358-085, a result of 10 years of efforts, consultations and the participation by consumer organizations. The law has its origins in the preliminary proposal introduced in the Congress by the Executive Power in 1995, called the Regulatory Code of the Market, which formed part of book V, related to the Consumer Protection Rights law.
On September 9, 2005, the General Law of Consumer Rights Protection, No. 358-05, was enacted and its implementation regulation approved by Executive Power on May 30, 2008 through decree No. 236-2008.
Av. Charles Summer #33
Los Prados, Distrito Nacional
Santo Domingo, República Dominicana