Consumers' safety net

Consumers' safety net

2011-03-28 10:40

Johannesburg - If you buy a kettle next month and it breaks after six months, you will have the right to demand your money back.

This is just one the new regulations contained in the new Consumer Protection Act, which comes into effect on April 1.

Western Cape economic development and tourism MEC Alan Winde issued a statement on Monday morning which explained the implications of the new law and said it would "radically overhaul the manner and form in which business is conducted".

For example, the law ensures an implied six-month guarantee on any goods purchased, regardless of the guarantees offered by the specific supplier.

"A practical example would be the following: You purchase a kettle for use in your home and the kettle can no longer boil water. The kettle is therefore no longer suitable for the purpose for which it was bought.

"If this has happened within six months of you taking delivery of the kettle you will now be within your rights to take the kettle back to the store and request a refund, repair or replacement," Winde's office said in the statement.

"Remember, the six-month warranty mentioned above is in addition to any other warranty provided by the supplier. So, if a product has a 12-month warranty provided by the supplier then this 12-month warranty is still valid."

The law also protects consumers against direct marketing onslaughts.

It provides for an "exclusion register" which will make it illegal for sales people to communicate electronically with a consumer whose name has been listed on this register.

"This will greatly assist consumers as they will be able to prohibit unwanted electronic communication."

In addition, consumers contacted by direct marketers will be offered a five-day cooling off period after entering a sales agreement.

"This will ensure that a consumer will now have the right to "change his/her mind about a direct marketing purchase within five business days," said the statement.

"This is a real improvement as often consumers have signed up for a service or product without having thought about the purchase carefully and the possible effects it would have on their budget and other financial commitments.

"In some cases it has been found that consumers are subjected to pressure to the extent that they enter into an agreement merely to end a sales pitch."

Another example of how the law would help consumers is the regulation around the cancellation of an advance reservation, booking or order.

"A consumer reserves accommodation at a hotel for two nights. On the day of the reservation, the consumer changes his or her mind as the hotel around the corner is offering a cheaper rate. The hotel then charges a 100% cancellation fee and the consumer is unhappy with the fee charged.

"In terms of the act, a consumer does have the right to cancel a reservation. However, the business will similarly have the right to charge a cancellation fee. The act however introduces the concept of a 'reasonable cancellation fee'."

The "reasonable fee" will be decided on based on the nature of the goods or device, the length of notice of cancellation, the reasonable potential of finding an alternative consumer and the general practice of the industry.

"As such, what constitutes a reasonable cancellation fee will depend on the merits of each case and the percentage of a cancellation fee that will be levied must be carefully considered by a business.

"One of the important elements introduced by the act is the acknowledgement of the rights that all of us as consumers will now be able to enjoy. Previous legislation ignored these principles and for the first time we have statutory recognition of our right to confidentiality, information, disclosure, fairness, transparency, choice, safety and redress.

"From 1 April onwards, it will not only be disrespectful but illegal, to ignore consumers' rights," said Winde.

  • Bratt - 2011-03-28 11:23

    April fool anyone?

  • alain.regnard - 2011-03-28 11:48

    love to see the implementation and the policing of this "act" where does the man in the street take their complaint to?

      maniegeldenhuys.geldenhuys1 - 2011-03-28 17:19

      You can take your complaint to ombudsmen set up for this.

  • mikedek - 2011-03-28 12:40

    This will have an impact on our retail stores that have moved into the market of selling 'cheap and nasties'. Can only be to the consumers benefit!

      GT - 2011-03-29 14:57

      Sure, just expect to pay more. I am all for less of better quality, just need to convince my wife!

  • samuel.weller - 2011-03-28 14:05

    Great where can we find a copy of the act.

      Tekwini Durban - 2011-03-28 15:33

      the CPA information document is available from these links - a FULL copy of the CPA is available here:

  • Eugene - 2011-03-28 15:36

    Why only eletronic communication? Stop them from calling us at work or on our mobile phones! Especially companies trying to sell you a cell phone contract.

      maniegeldenhuys.geldenhuys1 - 2011-03-28 17:20

      Eugene it's applicable to Mail, SMS, E-mail, Telephone conversations etc.

      Freddie - 2011-03-30 15:17

      It is not only electronic communication, it covers all direct marketing methods.

  • Tekwini Durban - 2011-03-28 15:36

    the CPA Act document is available here - Information Publications on the CPA:

  • pawsaw - 2011-03-28 16:11

    This is a bit late to assist me and I acknowledge my stupidity in buying into the holiday club scheme some years ago which as cost me to date somewhere in the region of R15,000 and I have not spent a day in one of their establishments since whenever I wish to do so they are fully booked wherever I might wish to go. What is more they will not refund my money and every month deduct by stop order a fee for that year of R205. I am not allowed to cancel this stop order either or I will be blacklisted. What redress is there for me as this is a total scam. Can anyone help me? - 2011-03-29 09:26

      from the first of april, you will be able to cancel it. all you nee to do is give them 20 business days notice of your intention to cancel. take the prove of your notice to cancel to the bank and ask the bank to do a stop order. if the stop order fails, the bank will be liable to refund you. The CPA gives consumer the right to cancel fixed deposits with banks, cell phones contract, gym contracts, lease agreements any time as long as 20 business days notice is given. If they refuse to cancel, they will be fine 10percent of their annual income and the employee responsible will possibly face a jail term of not longer than ten years

      d3 - 2011-03-29 09:27

      yo will be able to cancel your holiday scheme, but will pay a cancellation fee.

      DW - 2011-03-29 12:03

      pawsaw - I am not sure if the advice given to you here is correct. You BOUGHT into the holiday club scheme some years ago. This is not a lease agreement or some such contract. It would be like me buying a townhouse in a sectional title scheme and not being happy to continue paying the monthly levy, so wanting to hand the house back. I dont think it is as simple as that, but I may be wrong. Get more advice before you take "over the counter" advice offered in these columns.

      DeonL - 2011-03-29 12:50

      I think the law only applies to new contracts made on or after 1/4/2011? I am renting now and bought a new place, would love to get out sooner of my rental contract. - 2011-03-29 13:18

      At Deon, The law applies to any contract prior to and post to april 1st. i have a contract with vodacom and phoned in telling them i wish to cancel my contract once the law takes effect. i was told the amount i need to pay will be my monthly premiums times (*) number of months left to cancel. - 2011-03-29 13:21

      @ DW, the lease covers such schemes. The reason the Law is so harsh is because research showed consumers were ripped off in schemes as this. The bottom line is we as consumers are no longer bound to anything financially if we do not want to be a part of it anymore.

      Enuff - 2011-03-29 13:22

      In the same boat as Pawsaw - a holiday club I stupidly bought into 3 years ago has to date cost me at least R 37 000 and due to availability and poor quality I have not been able to make use of it. Will definitely be seeking clarity on what the act can do for me.

      Enuff - 2011-03-29 15:00

      Thanks to Tekwini Durban for the links to info. As far as I can work out, you can cancel the holiday club contract with 20 business days notice. BUT - the holiday club has the right to charge you for the amount remaining. EG let's say your agreement is 5 years and you've completed 3 and you pay R100 a month. You've paid R3 600 and are still liable for the remaining R 2 400 upon cancellation. So basically you can cancel but your financial obligation remains. Am I misunderstanding this?

      FranklySpeak - 2011-03-29 15:46

      On page 180 of the act it states which pre-agreements as well as what part of it is included. The law does not act retrospectively and you will still need to fulfil your financial obligations to the supplier.

      Saamprater - 2011-03-30 07:19

      Plan and book earlier. Surely, if all their places are booked it means that someone is using their services, just before you.

      Xavier - 2011-03-30 11:02

      @206025130, forgot to mention, Vodacom in the other hand is laughing at you. You can cancel your vodacom contract anytime you like, as long as you pay the outstanding amount on your contract (premiums x number of months left). Got out of my Vodacom contract 3 years ago like that. It has nothing to do with the consumer law. and as I mentioned the new consumer law is only applicable on goods bought, services provided etc. which happened after the effective date which is 1 April 2011, go to p180 of the consumer act. So please do not act like an idiot.

      Freddie - 2011-03-30 14:56

      The CPA applies to contracts signed after 01 April 2011, between two non juristic persons (natural people). However any leases or long term contracts that expire after this date cannot be auto renewed as was done in the past, and here you only have to give 20 business days notice to cancel if it has run its course, with no cancellation fee. Contracts signed after 01 April may be cancelled with 20 business days notice and the cancellation fee may not exceed 10% of the remaining payments on the contract. So if your vodacom contract has 10 months to go and you pay R200pm, they cannot charge more than R200 cancellation fee. Some of the comments concerning long term contracts above are totally incorrect.

      pawsaw - 2011-03-30 18:04

      Thanks for all the input. This particular scheme will not buy back my so-called points and I paid the full R11,000 off. This ampimt pg R2-5 can be raised at any time and you may only use your points off season at any particular resort and you may only save your points for three years whereafter the debit order you paid in year 4 is effectively removed from how much time you have accumulated. Their answer to me was to try and sell it on e0bay or gumtree and that I can leave it to my children. This is a total scam and I am certainly going to look into cancelling it with this new scheme. I do not want this house and they won't repossess it and stop taking a levy from me even though in theory this house does not even exist. Please be wary of this scheme as I imagine there are many people out there like myself who were phoned and placed under high pressure by three salespeople per person anddespite misgivings expressed ultimately were forced to buy just to get rid of them. It is worse than a pyramid scheme and there is another crowd who now e-mail ,you offering to cancel this at no extra cost as long as you originally bought more than x number of points as they claim to have buyers for this. In my case they will cancel for me but I will receive no refund because I didn't have the money to buy more points to start with. The point is here that if you bought into this scheme they have a debit order to debit your account until you die and in all possibility your heirs as well. Caveat

  • sharaad - 2011-03-28 16:39

    so how do we get on this "exclusion register"?

      maniegeldenhuys.geldenhuys1 - 2011-03-28 17:21

      Hi Sharaad go to the direct marketing association of South Africa and register on their opt out list.

  • Andre - 2011-03-28 19:32

    It's a bit unfair to exclude munisipal services from this act. That's where it's needed most. - 2011-03-29 09:28

      the CPA cant include municipal services because the municipalities are running at a great loss providing services to communities that less than 30% pay rates and taxes. Do research to find out how much money are owed to municipalities by rate payers and you will be astonished.

      d3 - 2011-03-29 09:30

      i totally agree!!!!

      Zion - 2011-03-29 11:58

      This will then lead to the perception that municipalities can and will get away with murder because now they are untouchable. So whose responsibility is it to claim municipal arrears for that municipality. The situation will only get worse and this rule is purely political in that it protects the incompetent ruling party officials.

      Robbie - 2011-03-30 09:58

      I agree, this part was added this month afaik, but it only excludes some municipalities that are basically bankrupt in any case. This needs to be tested in the ConCourt, and will possibly be found to be invalid as well as discriminatory as this discriminates between service providers... watch this space...

      Freddie - 2011-03-30 15:23

      Goods or services supplied TO the state are excluded. However, "Goods" are defined in the definitions of the act and "Gas, Water and Electricity" are expressly INCLUDED in the CPA. Paratstatals are not excluded either.

      FranklySpeak - 2011-03-30 17:27

      Yes Freddie but the government already stated that only metros will be included in the act since other municipalities do not have proper funding. Yet a street vendor selling his product is also included in the act.

  • qwikchek - 2011-03-29 09:15

    so, if I buy a T-Shirt and in 6 months from now it does not fit me anymore... you think Woolworths or Mr Price will give me another one? ha ha ha... rediculous act - only there to protect their own.... Simple - I won't sell my goods to "da peepoel"

      FranklySpeak - 2011-03-29 10:40

      You are now over simplifying the act. If the shirt shrunk due to you putting on weight or because you used chemicals or washing methods that did not comply with the instructions you can't do squat. But if it was due to an error in the manufacturing thereof you may return it. Just remember the you will be liable for "restocking" fee as well as wear and tear on the product - something no one seems to be mentioning.

      FranklySpeak - 2011-03-29 10:48

      You will only be able to return the goods if there was a defect in the manufacturing of it. If it doesn't fit because you gained weight or cleaned it by means that differ from the instructions you will not be able to return the item. And the store has a right to charge a "restocking" fee and deduct wear and tear as well.

      Kim - 2011-03-30 09:48

      clearly you don't understand. If it has a rip in it or the colour fades then they must take it back during that 6 month period. IF it doesn't fit, you will surely have swapped it as soon as you realised?

  • Chris - 2011-03-29 11:07

    One small problem though. Who will enforce this law? Currently the enforcement of many of the new bits of legislation enacted by the Luthuli House deployed cadre's is a joke. The NCA's Debt Review condition cannot be implemented as the incompetent Courts are swamped and they have of course "packaged" all the staff who knew what to do.

  • Robert - 2011-03-29 11:20

    And how does this affect the airline industry who always over book their flights, and then bump passengers. In particular how will it affect international airlines?

      FranklySpeak - 2011-03-29 15:49

      If the airline knowingly overbooked, they'll have to reimburse you the ticket price as well as any other expenses incurred for you to be there. Or they will have to offer you a seat on another airline for the same value at the same price. Everyone supplying something in SA falls under the act, that includes your street vendor.

      pgibbings1 - 2011-03-30 19:02

      @FranklySpeak - to me it is logical that most airlines knowlingly overbook, they have computerised systems that would count the number of passengers who book. My question is what about the damages you suffer as a result of overbooking - one instance was the U2 concert in cape town where I know people who had booked and paid for their tickets as well as their accommodation in advance. They missed the concert because of an overbooking - can they claim that money back if this kind of thing happens after 1 April 2011? Or even where as a result a person can only fly the following day because of an overbooking - does he/she get paid out for the costs they've incurred for the accommodation at the destination, and also at a hotel where they have to spend the night in say JHB if they flying from there?

      FranklySpeak - 2011-03-31 14:45

      @PGIBBINGS1 - The act is clear on this. If the airline knowingly overbooked their flight and can not accommodate you on that specific time they are liable for all incidental costs relating to that breach of contract. They will therefore need to repay you the concert ticket and accommodation, even the fuel used to get to the airport. The only provision if it is beyond the supplier's control, but to knowingly overbook is within the supplier's control. Read it for yourself under section 47 subsection 3 - 5 (pg 95 - 96)

  • Matthew - 2011-03-29 11:52

    What happens to the middle man? ;(

      Ben - 2011-03-29 15:19

      Apparently If you sell it - you're responsible. If I'm not wrong.

  • DW - 2011-03-29 11:58

    Will the Act be applied retrospectively ie if I bought something slightly before 1 April and want to return it after 1 April will I still be allowed to do so under this Act?

      FranklySpeak - 2011-03-29 15:51

      Page 180 of the act says what is included but mostly no. It is all transactions after the act comes into effect.

      Freddie - 2011-03-30 15:00

      No, it covers contracts and purchases from 01 April 2011, only the product liability section was effective from 01 April 2010. This is if you are injured or lose income due to product failure.

  • Martin - 2011-03-29 13:03

    The only thing that will happen prices will increase in retail shops to compensate for the refunds etc that they will face. So in the end we will just pay more for things. Cant wait. Monday im cancelling my Planet Fitness Account.

      Xavier - 2011-03-30 10:55

      @Martin...please do not be an idiot. Firstly go to p180 of the act it states that the act is only applicable to goods bought, services delivered etc. after the effective date which is 1 April 2011. But the good news is you can still cancel your gym contract, well not actually cancel it, what happens is, you basically give notice of that you want to cancel your contract after it expire. If you want to you can can pay all the money you own to them on your contract and you will still be a member until the end of your contract or you can can still pay your monthly fee till the end of the contract.

      Greg - 2011-03-30 11:24

      There are positive ways to respond Xavier - yours isn't one of them. Don't call anybody an idiot until you know what you're talking about. You cannot cancel a contract which has run its course (expired). You said 'Firstly' and then gave your advice, what comes after that, as in secondly, and thirdly?????

      Totman - 2011-03-30 14:23

      @Xavier. I only saw your comment after posting mine. According to a friend, that is a gym manger, there is a possibility that you can cancel an existing contract before the expiring date by giving them 20 working days notice? Meaning you don't pay for the rest after the notice period. Maybe you know ???

      Freddie - 2011-03-30 16:44

      @Totman, Not correct, see my reply to your question at the bottom of this page.

  • Arfie - 2011-03-29 13:26

    THe man in the street can take their complaint to either the National Consumer Tribunal or the Consumer Commission.

  • Wurm99 - 2011-03-29 16:51

    Wil this also include something like a second hand car from a dealer?

      Freddie - 2011-03-30 15:01


  • Hardtalk - 2011-03-29 17:10

    If it is like the rest of the services in SA forget it, all a waste of time. It is a rule that the municipalities must give you a correct bill every month for your W & L DO THEY ???? NO they dont and the penalty for their braking the rule NOTHING

  • Saamprater - 2011-03-30 07:16

    But still some municipalities are excluded. That means that me, living in Pta can sue my local municipality now, but the poor consumers in the excluded towns are being discriminated against. Me thinks this is a case for the constitutional courts. How can the anc be so selective in applying a law. Typical banana republic

  • Kim - 2011-03-30 09:44

    Fantastic legislation that has been a long time in coming. If consumers complain more when their rights are violated it will work. Use company's Facebook pages and Hello Peter when they don't comply despite reasonable requests to do so and things have a better chance of being sorted out.

  • Sydney - 2011-03-30 10:46

    Guys isn't wonderful to stick to the subject matter whatever the nature of the issue at hand, might be, like you are doing today? I am pleasantly surprised to find everybody communicating and exchanging ideas, offering help and counsel, to one another in this forum...keep it up guys, and let's try to deal with all subjects in the future the same way we did today. Nice clean comments, no racism, no partisan; just simple and ordinary SAns in conversation with one another!!

  • Richie - 2011-03-30 12:24

    My problem is just this; all these people that buy on credit they cant pay back including all this legislation. - who picks up the slack?

      pgibbings1 - 2011-03-30 19:08

      True point. However how many of the big retailers just automatically increase peoples credit limits without their consent and "beg" them to buy? Those retailers don't deserve the sale

  • Zion - 2011-03-30 13:31

    The municipality account issue still remains an unexplained problem. I seldom receive an account and to keep the waves down I go to the municipal offices at mid-month and obtain the amount and pay it. In other words I am doing their work cheaply. I have been told that if I do not do this and the account falls into arrears then I am liable for the penalty. Surely this is a case of malpractice where the municipality is concerned. What is implied here is the municipality can suspend every account and the consumer would have to do as I am doing. I believe my municipality, Welkom, is bankrupt. Is supplying an account on paper not a part of the service contract with the municipality? Any takers.

  • Totman - 2011-03-30 14:14

    I was told yesterday, by a friend that is also a gym manager, that these gym contracts, that keeps you paying until the contract is finished, are not legal and binding anymore. It sounds like it is for existing contracts as well. Apparently you only have to give them 20 working days notice and they have to cancel the contract. Cancelling an existing contract does not sound possible. I, luckily, do not have one of those, but it will be nice if some-one with the proper knowledge reply to my comment for people who are sitting with these.

      Freddie - 2011-03-30 16:03

      Schedule 2 of the CPA is titled "Application of the Act to pre-existing tranactions and agreements." The act does NOT apply to "any transaction concluded, or agreement entered into, before the general effective date" namely 01 April 2011. The only bit that is covered pertains to auto renewal and cancellation periods on expiry of agreements after 01 April 2011.

      Edmund - 2011-03-31 09:15

      Well it seems to me and I might be wrong. But if the expiry date of your contract is after or on 1st April 2012 and you signed it before 1st April 2011 then you can cancel it?

  • Albert - 2011-03-31 14:59

    wat hou dit in vir mense wat karre voet stoots verkoop

      Freddie - 2011-04-01 10:57

      Voetstoots is now a thing of the past, unless you purchase the good on auction.

  • speakmymind - 2011-04-01 09:11

    Laws laws laws. It's the enforcement thereof that fails. Smoking legislation for example...not policed at all! We all know how it goes. First world legislation in a 3rd world country...ain't gonna work!

  • Henno - 2011-07-22 10:38

    This didn't work for me twice now. The 1st time I took, funny enough, a kettle back to Macro Bedworth park, Vanderbijlpark. The DID NOT want to refund me, they said that they will send it in for repairs or replace it if not repairable. I had to wait almost 3 weeks for anything to happen. The I also got screwed big time by The Holiday Club and ECB Leisure that works from Riviera Country Club in Vereeniging. I wanted to buy those holiday points, signed the contract, ran into life problems and cancelled after two weeks again. They then, up to today, KEPT\stole my money that I paid, R2800!, and refuse to refund me anything. According to this new act I have 30 days to cancel, on their contract I signed it said 120 days, but the say I only had 5 days and they will pay NO money back to me. SO I got screwed out of R2800 for signing a paper, cancelling it and just paid my hard earned money to some account and lost it. So try it next and see how it feels, do an EFT this month, if you have any money for that to try and invest, pick n random account nr from a bank and transfer that lovely nr that you worked so hard for and forget about it and when you try and get it back, they just sit bak and relax, enjoy your money and gloat about using it for themselves as they please and you sit with the loss and no power or say about it. So thank you Holiday club and ECB Leisure, Lukas Muller and Lynette Beer, for using my money and spending it wisely that I worked so hard for...

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