Don't abuse new law, consumers warned

2011-05-31 13:17

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.

  • Shop 63 - 2011-05-31 13:41

    Great! Some customers are unrealistic in their demands and will force small businesses to close down if they keep on abusing the law to their own benefit. This will be bad for our economy and in addition create monopolies run by larger retailers in the industry which will have a negative impact on consumers in the long run. There are some retailers taking chances, but also those that run their businesses in an ethical and honest way.

      Old Man - 2011-05-31 14:04

      Can you give some specific examples of what you're saying instead of making general statements that don't make sense to the rest of us?

      Welleducated - 2011-05-31 14:19

      True! Lots of dodgy idiots out there! @Old Man, the rets of us know exactly what Shop63 means, ppl take advantage of everything, especially when they are wrong.

      Shop 63 - 2011-05-31 14:34

      Customer orders a product advertised for R4500 but it's sold out at the time of placing the order. Customer now insists on a replacement for over R10 000. This is an unreasonable demand. Marketing material is done weeks before the time and goods do sell out. A retailer places an order with distributor based on previous sales. Let's say 100 units are ordered. Now 150 customers want to purchase the product and there is no units available from supplier. Do customers now honestly expect the retailer to sell 50 replacement units at double the price as per customer demand? Any suggestions to prevent a scenario like this will be appreciated.

      LemonParty - 2011-05-31 14:41

      Welleducated : by the same token, lots of dodgy retailers out there, overall I think those who do dodgy deals will either be eradicated over time, or will be forced to operate with ethics in mind - car salespeople beware

      Welleducated - 2011-05-31 17:02

      Shop 63: Sounds like a greedy chancer who tried that trick before. Give us names and the idiot deserves to burn at the stake. Surely there must be a name and shame campaign to stop those types of chancers from buying anywhere in SA again. The law is simple, refund or an item of EQUAL value. Because someone tries to buy a 1.2l car which was not in stock, does not enetitle them to a Ferrari. Imagine everyone tried that trick? I suggest you ignore the idiot, he cannot win this one, the law is on your side.

      wmutahi - 2011-06-01 13:02

      True dat. This will require a delicate balancing act.

  • Lindetjie - 2011-05-31 13:49

    Can someone please educate the staff at supermarkets? Surely if they advertise a certain product on special and it is "sold out" they are obliged to offer us an alternative product at the same price? Or the same product in a different size to make up the one sold out? For example Checkers Hyper advertised 4 lt cooking oil on special = sold out, 2 kg cat biscuits = sold out. Surely they should have offered the 2 lt oil x 2 or 1 kg biscuits x 2 at the same price? Or is the new act still aimed at retailers/suppliers? Seems like the consumer still gets the raw deal!

      Valis - 2011-05-31 14:02

      Yeah right, an organisation of retailers warning consumers not to "abuse" the CPA. What they are actually saying is, don't try and stop us from ripping you off and don't try and make us give you good service.

      Duffster - 2011-05-31 14:12

      Ever heard of "while stocks last" its not their fault that you can't get their in time to get the deal. Early bird catches the worm and all that...

      Welleducated - 2011-05-31 14:17


      Rover_ZA - 2011-05-31 14:19

      I'm pretty sure the specials you refer to are listed as "While stocks last". How are you getting a raw deal? And this act definitely favours the consumer.

      Carol - 2011-05-31 14:29

      At Checkers and Pick n' Pay they will give you an out of stock voucher so that you can get those goods when they have stock again,at the same price as the special.

  • nixcroft - 2011-05-31 13:51

    now they send their staff for training, were they untrained before ? this could explain the general sense of pathetic customer service in south africa, from your local macdonals to thr department of home affairs... customer service is nothing but a rumour

  • Ano Nymous - 2011-05-31 13:52

    Rather than making disparaging comments regarding South African consumers, the CC should rather have a education campaign on what consumer rights are. Few have the time to download and read the entire legalese text.

  • fandash1 - 2011-05-31 14:09

    And I am warning the CGCSA you can monitor me all you want. It is time that retailers stop exploiting their customers. Now that the shoe is on the other foot you bleat. get a life your threats or should I actually say empty threat, does not make me shiver in my boots. It is time the rights of consumers in this country gets attention. Just maybe we will see better service but that is wishful thinking I suppose.

  • Carol - 2011-05-31 14:40

    @ Lindetjie At Checkers and Pick n'Pay you can get an out of stock voucher for the goods that are on special if they are out of stock, and then you can still get them at the special price when they have stock.

  • gamefish - 2011-06-01 08:49

    "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" How do retailers get this manual?

  • Tim - 2011-06-01 12:07

    my understanding is that the retailers simply need to indicate how many items are on special and they are then clear in terms of the CPA

  • jjaver39 - 2011-06-05 22:16

    I would like to see a similar representative private organisation as the Consumer Goods Council of SA operating on be halve of and controlled by consumers to look after their own interests. The lack of such a muscle is demonstrated by the poor services consumers receive from both government and bussines - not even speaking of the delays in the commencement of the CPA.

  • wallyrsa - 2011-06-06 07:03

    A while ago a certain computer supply store (National company) were advertising a number of items on special. I went there on the first day of the sale to buy a LCD monitor, but was informed that they were out of stock (This was the day before the CPA actually came into play). The sales person just said, 'sorry sold out', and did not even make an attempt to offer me something else. I then asked to speak to a manager, who eventually came to me, and I asked him why they were sold out of the monitors, even though it was the first day of the 4 day weekend special, and he could not answer me. I advised him that I would be back the next day, as this is when the CPA comes into play, and they would have to offer me an alternative. The manager then offered me the alternative that night, and admitted that they were not sold out of the monitor, they had not received their stock prior to the special starting. I was then offered and LED monitor instead of the LCD monitor that was advertised. Some retailers advertise specials just to get feet in their door, and then try and sell you something else at a higher value. Not all consumers are con artists as not all retailers are con artists, but it only takes 1 of either to label everyone.

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