Don't abuse new law, consumers warned
Johannesburg - Consumers who intend to manipulate the new Consumer Protection Act (CPA) to advance their own interests at the expense of retailers will be monitored, the Consumer Goods Council of SA (CGCSA) said on Tuesday.
"Thus far there have only been a few isolated incidents of customers taking such chances, but we will be monitoring these rogue consumers," head of economic and legislative affairs Patricia Pillay said.
Retailers, manufacturers and wholesalers in the industry are having to deal with consumers who do not fully understand the act; as a result they make impossible requests that go against the intention of the various provisions of the act, she said.
Pillay said it appears consumers are not fully aware of their rights and often misinterpret certain parts of its provisions, which leads to various challenges.
She said in addition to this concern, the Section 113 provision for vicarious liability also poses a challenge to the industry.
The section states that if an employee or agent is acting in the course of his employment and commits an offence in terms of the CPA, the employer is jointly and severally liable for all instances except criminal liability.
This means companies will have to deal with complaints based on their employees' actions.
"Our members have embarked on a full-scale, nation-wide training exercise to upskill their employees on the various provisions of the CPA that impact on the way that business is done in the industry.
"They are also trained on how to deal with consumer queries and complaints in line with their internal company processes in place," Pillay said.
She said that, in an attempt to overcome the challenge of the Section 113 provision, the CGCSA has compiled a training programme which covers the practical implications of the CPA, and how to ensure that businesses are compliant.