CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT AT ITS BEST - GET WHAT YOU PAID FOR?

by CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT AT ITS BEST - GET WHAT YOU PAID FOR! on 01-04-2018 in News from advertisers

CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT AT ITS BEST - GET WHAT YOU PAID FOR?

How frequently do Consumers hear the statement “It’s not our fault that you have this problem – it’s yours” or ever had a situation where you phone a call center and getting lost in an infinite circle of voicemail recordings or client assistant responders.  


Every consumer has had one to many times happen to them where they receive bad service or goods. This is frustrating and leads to Consumers, who is any person to whom goods and services are marketed; who is a user of the supplier’s goods which enters into a transaction with the supplier or service provider of any services and products, with the intention of receiving goods and services from suppliers in good standing. In other words, you are a consumer and if you have made an agreement with a supplier, for example, when you purchase goods or services, or if goods or services are marketed to you, you are entitled to good service and good products. 
Many Consumers were largely being “ripped off” in the past and their rights were unfettered resulting in scanty Customer power of speech and constant exploitations of Consumers. Legislation was fragmented in dealing with issues raised by Consumers until The South African Consumer Protection Act, No 68 of 2008 was signed on 24 April 2009 (hereinafter referred to as “CPA”). 


The CPA assists in protections of the rights of the Consumer and the accountabilities of the provider, be that in result of false publicity, presentation, upholding, retailing; distributing, delivering or mending of goods and services in South Africa. To provide clarity, “goods” include possessions, but also information and facts and the certificate to use it and “services” include delivery of information or exercising you pay for, conveyance of people or goods, businesses at eateries and hotels, entertainment and right to use to automated communication. 


The CPA further protects the welfares of all Consumers by ensuring an ease of understanding, clearness and resourceful reparation for Consumers who are exposed to exploitation in the marketplace.  
As a Consumer you have firm civil rights and you must recognize your rights and be conscious that you are permitted to impose your rights.  


An individual; an authorized individual temporary acting on behalf of another; a person acting as a associate or in the interest of an affected group or class or a person acting in the public interest may lodge a complaint. Consumer complaints may be filed with the National Consumer Commission. 


The Consumer Protection Act ensures: 


·        that you are safeguarded by ensuring that you are treated as an equal and shields you against discernment in trade and industry businesses 
·        that your privacy is protected and that you receive reasonable practice when goods or services are advertised to you 
·        that means you have the right to select the contracts you go into and remain with the terms that you agreed to without amendments or technicalities 
·        that you are exposed to the all information in order for you to make well-versed selections 
·        that you are not exploited against potential deception and other fraudulent practices 
·        that you do not have to settle to discriminating circumstances in the minor print 
·        that you are able to return goods which are not satisfactory  
·        that you are not exposed to goods and services that can harm you 
·        that suppliers are liable for compensation to you if you have suffered any form of loss as result of their services or goods  
·        that you are refined on consumer concerns and the consequences of your selections 
·        that if is possible for you to create assemblies to endorse your welfares 
  
In other words, the CPA, together with the Bill of Rights which protects the rights of all South Africans – together with consumer rights, allows Consumer assured rights.  


Few of these rights will be briefly discussed in details in order for you to have a basic understanding thereof. 


1)       RIGHT TO CONFIDENTIALITY 
Consumers have a right to decline unsolicited unswerving advertising such as telephone calls, sms’s, junk e-mail; faxes; notices or letters. Once you have informed them that you do not want such unwanted advertising, the supplier is not permitted to continue any unwanted straight advertising. 


 2)       RIGHT TO MAINTAIN UNSOLICITED GOODS WITHOUT COMPENSATION 
You as the Consumer, may return unsolicited goods or services at the expense and peril of the Merchant. You are further entitled to retain any unsolicited services and goods subsequently to twenty Business days.  


 3)        RIGHT TO SELECT YOUR PRODUCE 
As a Consumer, you have various rights to select your produce by various means.  

 

  • a)      You have the right to your freedom of choice of your merchant in that you can shop from  one place to another for the paramount goods and services at the best inexpensive costs. 
  • b)      You have the right to renew or terminate a permanent contract. Such examples are that:  
    • Consumers may terminate contracts upon termination without any fluctuations or forfeits. Although Consumers have the right to terminate the contracts, they are obliged to provide to the Merchant a twenty day’s written notice for the termination or fixed agreement and the Merchant is entitled to charge penalties on early cancellations if stated in the agreement. 
    •   If a Consumer failed to terminate an agreement, the Merchant is required to lengthen the agreement on a month-to-month basis.  
  • c) You have a right to request permission for upkeep and maintenances. Merchants may not charge for any indicative work or assessments to arrange quotations or approximations except if you agreed to prior to the assessments of impaired work. As a Consumer, you have the right to refuse prior additional maintenance or repairs alternatively the right to request written quotations subsequent to any repairs or maintenance work being carried out if you agreed to be liable for such costs in terms of the agreement. Consumers will not be held liable to pay any maintenance or repair on work done if the Merchant did not obtain prior consent on the amount payable. Therefore a quotation must first be provided to the Consumer prior to any work done. Such costs arising out of preparing a quotation for any repairs or maintenance may not be charged by the Merchant for the cost of the Consumer. 
  • d) You have right to return merchandises and pursue compensation for unacceptable services. Such merchandises could be returned due to the fact that as a Consumer, you were unable to examine the merchandise prior to the distribution thereof.  Merchandises may also be returned if they are dangerous or faulty, resulting in your right as a consumer to demand a reimbursement provided that you have at least requested such reimbursement within a sensible time period. 

5)       RIGHT TO CANCEL PRIOR RESERVATIONS OR ORDERS  
You as the Consumer do have a right to cancel a prior reservation or order. Noting this right, and depending on the nature and circumstances, the Merchants are entitled to request a reasonable charge for the cancelations as well as to a reasonable deposit for bookings and orders.  


6)       RIGHT TO RELEASE OF INFORMATION 
Consumers have the right to information in clear understandable language as well as the right to the release of sales records in which they are able to obtain invoices (which have all descriptive details) and receipts.  
Consumers further have a right to the disclosure of prices of goods and service. It is essential that Merchants display the prices of goods and services, in full view of Consumers and Consumers have the right to demand the item cost of goods and services, so as to escape any unstated cost. If there is two various prices on a product or service, the Consumers have the right to demand paying the lower price shown and the Merchants are not allowed to charge Consumers the greater price for the identical goods or services. 


Some Consumers enter lay-bye agreements.  In such agreements, Consumers have the right to a full reimbursement of money compensated plus interest and to have their deposits placed in an interest bearing account. 


 8)        RIGHT TO SELECT OR INSPECT MERCHANDISES, EVEN SUBSEQUENT TO PURCHASE AND SUPPLY 
As a Consumer, you may discard merchandises if it did not correspond to mockups that you inspected as well as reject merchandises that were on show and demand newfangled merchandises. Consumers may examine any item bought or distributed, but note that Merchants may charge Consumers for forfeiture or destruction of merchandises if it is the consequence of any deliberate act, irresponsibility or gross carelessness of the Consumer. 


 9)        RIGHT TO REASONABLE AND RESPONSIBLE ADVERTISING 
The Consumers who purchase or enters into an agreement based on what is marketed without inspecting the products first, are protected by ensuring that Merchants discloses all information and not exaggerate images or information thereon.  Merchants are not permitted to deceive Consumers in respect of pricing, benefits or usages of goods or services marketed, if such goods or services are not in fact offered for purchase in agreement with these criterions. 


Merchants are further required to display cataloguing and trade explanations of merchandises, which do not deceive Consumers about the contents of the packaging or merchandises involved with the products. If Merchants fail to stipulate the period of any promotions in catalogues or leaflets, Consumers have the right to purchase the goods or services at the stated prices. 
Merchants are further not allowed to make persuasive bargains with the intent of not fulfilling them, or fulfilling them in a way other than as presented 


 10)      RIGHT TO TERMINATE STRAIGHT ADVERTISING CONVENTIONS IN THE COOLING-OFF PERIOD  
Should you as the Consumer enter into an agreement, you have a period of time after a contract is agreed upon, during which the you can cancel the contract without incurring forfeits after providing reasons for your decision. The Merchants are thereby to then refund your monies paid within fifteen days after receipt of a notification informing you’re cancelling of the agreement. This right also ensures that all agreements must have a cooling off period which allows you the opportunity to rethink your decision. 


 11)       RIGHT TO REASONABLE VALUE, RESPECTABLE EXCELLENCE AND SAFETY 
A Consumer has the right to request valued service and when entering an agreement with a Merchant, the Merchant must ensure that such service is completed timeously; inform the Consumer of inevitable intervals; ensure great excellence in workmanship and use as well as setting up of merchandises free of deficiencies. Should the goods have deficiencies or the excellence of the services was not acceptable, the Merchant must certify that he will remedy the deficiencies or reimburse the Consumer. 


A Consumer is permitted to merchandises that are received in decent excellence and free of deficiencies. 


It is therefore noted that the Consumer has a right to inferred guarantee of excellence. 


12)       RIGHT TO REASONABLE AND AUTHENTIC TRADE  
           It is the Consumer’s right to accept that the Merchant trader has the legal right to retail the merchandises on promotion or have the right to tenancy of certain merchandises. 
          Consumers have a right to be safeguarded against pyramid and associated organizations. No persons may join, endorse or partake in any duplicitous organizations or cons as well as duplication systems proposing interest rates above the repo proportion and schemes of such nature in which such persons receive compensation for enlistment of new partakers. 


No Merchant may provide dishonest and deceptive depictions of their products and services.  


The CPA is an important legislation to familiarise yourself with. We all are consumers of goods and services and therefore it impacts our daily lives. If we as Consumers accept the unsatisfactory goods and services provided, we condone it and by that we endanger ourselves to the Merchants abuse thereof. We have to ensure that we continue to place pressure on the Merchants to provide sound service and goods, that is not only economically sound, but that what we purchase is what we paid for. 


“The goal is to normalize trade relations based on sound science and consumer protection” (A quote by Mike Johanns). 
(NOTE: this article is for information purposes only. Each case depends on merits of matter and should be consulted with an attorney) 
 

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