Consumers in South Africa are protected under the Consumer Protection Act, No 68 of 2008.This Act is designed to protect the interests of all consumers, ensure accessible, transparent and efficient redress for consumers who are subjected to abuse or exploitation in the marketplace.What type of protection does a consumer get from the Consumer Protection Act?
Right to privacy
Under the right to privacy, consumers have a right to refuse unwanted direct marketing such as telephone calls, smsâ€™s, spam e-mail or letters. Once opted out, the supplier is not entitled to continue any unsolicited direct marketing.
Right to fair value, good quality and safety
Consumers under right to fair value, good quality and safety enjoy the right to demand quality service which dictates that suppliers must supply products in good quality and safe working condition and free of defects. When this fails, suppliers must provide remedy for defects in quality or services or refund the consumer a reasonable amount of the price of the service or goods. Consumers also enjoy the right to implied warranty of quality
- the right to warranty on repaired goods
- the right to receive warnings on the facts and nature of risks
- the right to recovery and safe disposal of products or components
- the right to have products monitored for safety or recalled
- the right to claim damages for injuries caused by unsafe or defective products.
Right to choose product
Under the right to choose your product, a consumer enjoys the right to shop around for the best products and services at the most economical prices. A consumer also enjoys the right to renew or cancel a fixed term agreement,
- the right to request pre-authorisation for maintenance and repairs,
- the right to return goods and seek redress for unsatisfactory services
- the right to return unsolicited goods without payment
- the right to cancel direct marketing contracts within the cooling off period
- the right to cancel advance reservations, bookings or orders and the right to examine goods, even after purchase and delivery.
Right to fair and honest dealing
Under fair and honest dealing, a consumer has the right to assume that suppliers are entitled to sell goods, a consumer enjoys the right to protection against pyramid and related schemes as well as the right to protection against false, misleading or deceptive representations.
Right to disclosure of information
Disclosure of information gives rights to a consumer to demand agreements, contracts and other documents in plain and easy to understand language. A consumer is also entitled to invoices and receipts and other relevant pieces of information such as contract information and taxes.
Right to fair and responsible marketing
Consumers in South Africa enjoy the right to protection in catalogue marketing. Catalogue marketing refers to any agreement, initiated by the consumer, by fax, telephone or other means, where the consumer could not properly inspect the goods.
Right to accountability by suppliers
Accountability by suppliers broadly refers to agreements where monetary deposit is made. A consumer therefore has rights to a full refund of money paid plus interest, keeping deposits in an interest bearing account, and if the supplier fails to deliver goods, these suppliers must supply equivalent or superior products to the discretion of the consumer.
The Consumer Protection Act should be the point of reference for any consumer seeking clarity on rights.