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
Private Bag X84,
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.
If you’re feeling lucky, why not try your luck at the best online slots casino Canada, or visit here if you’d like to check out a directory of the best South African rand casinos. If neither online gambling nor online casinos in India are interesting for you, check out Wonkie’s recommended pages for some fun alternatives.