New Consumer Act 1 cartoon

New Consumer Act 1

Consumer Act – Know Your Rights!

Before the great Osama Bin Laden saga last week, there was a fair amount in the news about the new Consumer Protection Act in South Africa. It has been in effect since 1 April 2011 and in case you thought that was just a cruel government April Fool’s joke, it wasn’t – there really is a new Consumer Act, and it is worth your while to be aware of your rights.

Wonkie has decided to produce a short series of articles to help South African consumers become familiar with the Act, and what it means for them in practical terms. Today’s post is the first in this series and covers some important rights with respect to advertising and supplier delivery.

False advertising and Withholding information

For those of you that did not catch the reference to the ad that Julius Malema is mentioning in today’s comic, be sure to check out Wonkie’s earlier post and the classic Malema video here: Julius Malema Nando’s ad.

The Consumer Protection Act works strongly in favour of consumers when it comes to advertising. Gone are the days when advertised specials are suddenly out of stock when you get to the store. Suppliers are now obliged to provide you with an equivalent product at the same discounted price – if they don’t, you are entitled to complain and get something done about it.

Sellers also cannot use the Voetstoots, or buy-exactly-as-is as easily as they could in the past. Buyers need to be informed of all defects, visible or otherwise, prior to the sale. This is particularly relevant to know when buying used cars and second hand items.

Products like cheap car insurance and other such policies need to be explained in terms that are easy to understand. If you were sold something and when it came time to claim, you encountered difficulties, then do not lose hope too quickly. If you did not get paid because of hidden fine print that was not explained to you clearly before you bought the policy, then you now have recourse in terms of filing a formal complaint against the insurance company.

No delivery, No pay

While suppliers are generally quick to take your money, they are much more reluctant to part with it. The new act entitles consumers to be repaid, with interest and relevant expenses should any supplier fail to deliver against their agreed commitment.

For example, if you’ve ever arrived at the airport only to find that you’ve been bumped to another flight because the one you were originally on was over-booked, you can now not only get your money back from the airline, but also claim for any expenses related to the delay.

If you’ve encountered some dodgy behaviour from a store or supplier, it is probably best to approach them in the first instance to see if it can be amicably resolved. If it cannot, you can complain by contacting the National Consumers’ Commission:

Tel: 0861 843 384
Fax: 012 394 2558

Alternatively, you can do it old school by downloading the complaint form on the DTI site and posting the completed form to (UPDATE: the DTI has now removed this form or relocated it to where nobody can find it):

National Consumers’ Commission
Consumer Complaints
Private Bag X84,
Pretoria, 0001

Wonkie suggests you call the DTI Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) : (012) 394 1436 / 1558 /1076 directly to ask.

More to follow in the next post about dealing with those pesky telemarketers, returning goods, automatic contract renewals, and other agreements.

Click HERE to leave YOUR COMMENT on the new Consumer Protection Act.
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Click HERE to leave YOUR COMMENT about the new Consumer Act in SA.

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  1. Deena Naidoo says

    Malema’s ‘anti-white rant’ is starting to get rather disturbing. And to top it all, Zuma is standing on the platform, grinning like a pregnant hyena. The height of stupidity, trying to convince 3000 odd arseholes that the whites ‘stole the land from them’. Without white civilisation, Africa, and in fact the rest of the world would NOT be in existance without the ‘white-man’s civil creation’. This land, no…….. never mind, I think I can explain it better to my border-collie dog, and, she will agree 100%. In the interest of national security and threat to civility and peace, Malema MUST be forced to withdraw his ‘threats and innuendo’s’ before an outbreak of racial war breaks out.

  2. Peanuts says

    Are those that sing along with juju not supplying unwanted slogans causing serious effects to society and robbing the country of peace , how do we complain about that.? As we as young blacks that condems his actions are regarded the same as juju and his ignorant followers, indirectly we are consumers of his evil minded songs

  3. I understand the spirit of goods needing to be available at the promoted special prices…but realistically during special promotions there cannot be an unlimited amount of the product available. There must be SOME recourse the retailers can then still take?

  4. mickey deiner says

    The anc will do nothing about the misfit named julius as with the elections coming up they prefer him to cause trouble along different lines as the anc has nothing to show the people.

  5. mickey deiner says

    old glade has started the fashion for the anc of calling the opposition names and accusing them of the worst things. This they must do as they have nothing to put before the people to get votes, everything, be it education, health, security, transport, etc., etc., is in such a mess they need to keep quite about it. What have they really done for the people of SA apart from getting them deeper and deeper in to debt. How they can even attend a lying session of the anc is beyond me. Jaco and julli are doing their best to ruin our country. julli baby is a perfect example of a crapmachine, if the anc need money let them bag the mouthings of julli as the farmers really need fertilizer and then julli and Co. will be doing some good.

  6. We are all unwilling consumers of Juju’s bullshit and hate speech. How do we register a complaint.

  7. Africa suffered under colonisation due to the greed of filthy western capitalists. However the only thing worse than colonisation was decolonisation. Let us however discuss the Consumer Act. It will probably turn out like many of our legal practices where business will bring suit and counter suit relentlessly against any prosecutions until such time that they have watered down all the legal precedents to make the Act worthless and that any individual seeking redress will be faced with huge legal costs making it foolhardy and expensive to complain when you find a cockroach in your loaf of bread.

  8. Deena, if u call Malema a stupid, ur statement above about white-man civilization makes u not far from him.

  9. It appears that we now might have the local authorities and National Government by the Proverbial “B@LLS” as they also fall under the definition of service providers through our paying of taxes for benefits to communities and individuals.
    Not that the general public has the financial means to take Government to court but then again i think that there is some regulation that gives complainants the right to State legal aid,have to look that one up.

  10. Scheedee says

    The Consumer Act is a really positive step towards dragging SA business and service providers kicking and screaming into ethical and dare I say… world class service. “World Class” the term brings into question good old Joburg Municipal services and Joburg Connect’s diabolical excuse as ‘service providers’. How many consumers have tried to get through on the “Customer Care Line 011 375 555” without success? Now I’m not talking of merely dialling the number and waiting for a few minutes to get some call-centre agent to answer… I’m talking about up to 4 hours per day for weeks on end without even getting the phone answered. Not only does this call cost money (Telkom/cell providers) the time wastage is counter productive. I would like to see companies and government/municipal service depts being forced to provide call centers that answer and handled calls efficiently and effectively within legislated standards. IE: a set max time allowed to answer calls, courteous and competent handling, and immediate escalation to genuine managers should issues not be resolved within an agreed time frame, and then also to provide complainants alternative numbers to escalate the issue. Failing to provide reasonable customer service, businesses and corporations should be fined and their trading licenses suspended in the event of non-compliance or repeat offenses.

  11. Since the enactment of The Consumer Protection Act, I have been inundated with calls fro various organisations wanting to sell me anything from carpet cleaning services, insurance brokers, time share salesmen et al. I thought the purpose of the act was to prevent this kindc of harassment.

  12. About time – some justice for insurance companies like Glenrand MIB!!

  13. Collitjies says

    Are we the consumers actually going to claim against non delivery, I’m sure by now the big boys have worked the loopholes out already so the new act can again be swept under the carpet. Back to square one I might say.

  14. Would we be able to take the government on on this Consumer Act? they have promised houses, jobs, running water etc for 17 years now and very little of that happened. they promise no discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation etc but then white people cannot get jobs because they are white? how does this work?

  15. We have also been lumbered with a huge municipal account and have been struggling now for 8 years to get the municipality to correct their errors. They do not answer our calls neither do they reply to our emails. The amount in question is over R100,000- We pay what we should be paying on a monthly basis but the error has never been corrected.

  16. This is what the masses want! Affirmative inaction!

  17. for the one with a R100,000 municipal bill,go to your nearest Police station and go and lay a charge of FRAUD as the council is trying to extort money from you using official documentation.The proof of extortion is the account they have sent you and take my word for it from an old law enforcement member that this is utter fraud and extortion.
    No Police Station or member can refuse your complaint and if you have such a problem,go to the local divisional Commissioner with a copy to your most important news paper for there knowledge and follow up.

  18. A sure way to force small honest businesses out of business. Imagine buying a car and exchanging it every six months because the salesman didn’t tell you exactly what it can & can’t do?
    As a small PC shop owner this law can bankrupt me in no time. If a consumer doesn’t understand the technology it’s safer to turn them away than to try and sell them something. Might just as well start a “free” computer training center in order to sell anything!

  19. A. BOTHA says


  20. What a welcome law Thank U very much. I have entered a contract with a builder cum pastor to extend my house. I have paid him full amount in. He has taken the money. Left my house in ruins half build very dangerous if it can collapse and hurt my grand children. Please help me. He has suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth. He does not reply my emails and switches off his phone when he hears my voice

  21. Does the returns and exchange policy also apply to haNd made sculpture and art pieces that arE exclusively sold as all are hand carved and sculptured?

  22. To Whom it may Concern:

    On 17/05/11; I went to Howick West Liquors situated at 86 Midmar Rd – Howick West – KZN – 3290 ; in order to purchase a case of Castle Milk Stout. When paying with my credit card, the owner informed me that I was oblidged to pay an additional 4,75% Surcharge in order to cover his bank charges.Needless to say, I pointed out to him, that apart from his actions being illegal in terms of SA’s new consumer regulations, that such behaviour also contravenes the terms of all banks policies for authorised credit card vendors. My plea’s for intellect and reason fell upon arrogantly deaf ears and without any reserve, I was told that if I did not like it, that I should “Farkorf & Shop Al’s wear”. Hence this report – To make mention of the incredibly myopic mindset, of such greedy and grasping businessmen – who obviously will claim all bank charges as tax deductable expenses, along with all other business costs, yet still see their way clear to defraud not only their customers, but also the relevant banks involved and primarily – They should be claiming all business expenses from the South African Revenue Services, not breaking the law of SA’s consumer protection bill & hurting their customers.

    Yours Truly

    Craig Davidson

  23. Wendy Colton says

    Where can I download this act?

  24. WENDY COLTON and everybody else on the World Wide Web can view the Consumer Protection Act 2011 (officially termed – THE COMPANIES ACT no 71 of 2008 – which was gazetted by goverment on 26 April 2011 and became legally binding and fully effectual from 01/05/2011) at this link below from the DTI Website – ie: –

  25. If we pay rates we expect something for them, thus making us consumers of municipal services. If those services are not delivered can we claim our money back. Particularly if we did not vote for the people who are responsible and accountable for delivering those services.

  26. Concerned says

    The only problem with this act, as that the really big and painful companies to deal with like Telkom, will be able to pay the laywers to create the right set of T&C’s to cover them from any complaints – because that is all is needed – clever terms and conditions. The victims are the small businesses who cant afford laywers and may look at closure from loosing to a complaint laid against them. Given the need for job creation and foreign investment to really uplift the man on the street, I do find this a really strange place for us as a country to be putting our resource.

  27. this is very funny

  28. This act is very beneficial to everyone in south africa
    because we all consumers. Learn your fundamental
    cpa rights.

  29. Home Owners Associations Directors, how can we as shareholders hold them accountable for their actions. They seem to have veto powers on everything and all concerns, before an AGM the notice states that you as homeowner must send your complaints upfront in writing and they will decide if they want to hear it on the day of the AGM. When we as owners ask to see the minutes they always have an answer that they are busy etc. The directors have implemented a system of fees and fines without the prior vote of the shareholders. Is there an ombutsman to educate homeowners of full title estates

  30. Gibber Jabber says

    Where do you get the e-mail address for the Consumer Protection Commission to lay complaints against suppliers? The DTI do not reply so who do we contact?

  31. On May 9th, 2011 at 10:24 am I wrote on Wonkie that Africa suffered under colonisation due to the greed of filthy western capitalists. and that the only thing worse than colonisation was decolonisation. Now that the Chinese have started to Colonise Africa maybe we will see an improvement.

  32. You foolish person,go to Zimbabwe and see what the New Chinese Mine owners are doing to the laborers,treating them as slaves and shooting them when they complain, Don`t wish for the Chinese as they are a RUTHLESS Race and there Main Policy is to take over Africa, “for the one that controls Africa, will control the World. And this is for Garth.

  33. The consumer Board phone nr. 0860 627 627 and they answer the phone.

  34. tracey-lee says

    hi i need some info….

    I registerd to au pair in Belgium with a au pair agency… I signed up in April 2011 and paid all the fees ….
    They said it will usually take 3 months to find a match with a family, but it has been 8 months now.. They also said if i choose to cancel my contract i will not receive any of my money back.. So what are my rights??

  35. What is the use of having the “Consumer Protection Act” and a call centre to supposedly send your complaints to, when NO-ONE gets back to you?? The call centre operators are full of excuses – they don’t have computers, they can’t transfer calls, they are only messengers and pass on the messages, their supervisors aren’t available, the list goes on. They can’t actually do anything… I send my request for assistance in on the 20th of September 2011 – I’ve yet to receive even a simple acknowledgment that my issue is being dealt with. Even phoning them twice a week gets me absolutely no-where!

    So yet again, it seems to have been pie in the sky!!

  36. I have a 8ta contract I seen in the adverts they give u unlimited calls but I get only 90minutes airtime each month so hw is that unlimited? That’s is false advertising,please investigate this matter.I got my contract at telkom shop in chatsworth

  37. Marcelle,the consumer body has been bought and bribed by the Business Community and for M Ramdass,look at your contract fine print and if you are satisfied that a problem exists,go and hand back the equipment and cancel the contract as they might have used false pretences to deliberately defraud you which makes it a criminal case and visit your nearest Police Station but demand to speak to an INVESTIGATING Officer and not with one of the Charge Office Fools.

  38. your link to the form download is broken

    • Thanks Louis – in true SA govt fashion, the DTI has neglected to publishing a forwarding web address to their complaint form. You can contact the dti Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) : (012) 394 1436 / 1558 /1076

  39. thanks for the info
    keep up the fight!

  40. Here are the numbers for the Provincial Consumers Affairs Office. They were amazing to deal with (in the western cape, anyway) and will take full details of your complaint and log it with the relevant person who will be dealing with your enquiry> Be warned though, there is a backlog in cape town of around 4weeks which is really not that bad considering all the bull#$%^going on out there. Also just wanted to reply to “Concerned” re big companies going to court because of fancy “terms and conditions”in their contract. This Act is stautory law and cannot be overridden by any terms and conditions in any company contract. Also, all terms need to be exhaustively explained to a consumer so listen well and don’t agree to sign anything you don’t agree with. Regardless, a contract cannot make any stipulation that goes against what has been guaranteed to the consumer under the Act, but hey this is South Africa and we’ll just have to wait and see!!! Here are the numbers in each province. Good Luck! I think it’s great that a discussion has at least begun around this issue and there are laws enacted. At least we aren’t doing the usual South African thing which is to bitch and moan but then remain apathetic and cynical :
    * Eastern Cape – 045 808 4000
    * Free State – 051 400 4852
    * Gauteng – 011 355 8000
    * KwaZulu-Natal – 031 310 5300
    * Limpopo – 015 293 8300
    * Mpumalanga – 013 752 3761
    * North West –018 387 7700
    * Northern Cape – 053 839 4000
    * Western Cape – 0800 007 081

  41. I found that cell phone store in hatfield plaza cheat customers by fixing phones without quarantee of work done when you come the following day with it just fight

  42. I think the CPA is alot of bullshit!!!! The lousy government should focus and real and other issues rather.

  43. More useless legislation. I have yet to see a successful prosecution. Companies and government will tie you up and cost you. Consumer rights, labour rights, human rights have ceased to exist.


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