The Consumer Protection came into effect last Friday, 1 April, and now what We’ve brought you up to speed with some of the implications and your rights within the CPA and this week we want to look a little closer to what kind of legal action you can take.
Let’s start with the obvious, what if you buy a product and you’re not satisfied with it (you obviously have a valid reason) and they won’t let you exchange it. What are your options?
The good news is that you don’t have to go to court each time. Start at the Department of Trade and Industry website. There you will find all the relevant contact numbers for the National Consumer Commission to lodge your complaint. The bigger the case and more money at stake, it makes more sense to approach your attorney so they can deal with the intricacies of the Act and any other legal proceedings professionally.
What if you are on an SMS database and keep receiving invasive advertising, what can you do there?
The DTI will be releasing a national exclusion register. If your number appears on this register marketers will not be permitted to send you marketing spam via sms. All marketers must consult this database before delivering direct marketing, which you have not signed up for. If you have consented at some point to receive marketing material you can still add your name to the register, but you should also remove yourself from whatever company/service database you initially signed up to, normally with a Stop or Unsubscribe SMS/Email.
What really happens if I want to cancel a gym or cell-phone contract?
The rule is 20 business days’ notice of cancellation must be given. You can cancel ANY fixed-term agreement if and when you give 20 business days’ notice. This however does not mean that you are excused from paying the outstanding amounts that are owed to the supplier. You have to settle any outstanding money owed within the period the contract is in force. The good news is that suppliers now have to write to you between 40 and 80 business days before your contract expires to convince you to renew your contract as automatic renewals have fallen away. Again, you still have to physically cancel the contract, if you don’t the contract will continue on a month-to-month basis until you renew the contract or give notice to cancel.
You have the legal right to inspect goods, including shrink-wrapped goods. How does that work?
A store should offer a display or demo unit on which you base your decision to purchase a particular product. Once you agree to purchase that item and then pay for it you may immediately inspect the item. If it does not match the quality of the demo/display unit then you can and should return or exchange the item. If you only get round to doing this at home, remember that you have up to 6 months to return a defective item.
As with all new legislation, if often takes a few months for everyone to get on board. While we will continue to educate you, it is unlikely that suppliers nationwide will be reading our blog, and consequently won’t be nearly as well informed as you are! The National Consumer Commission will be reasonable and it is more likely that we will only see the CPA enforcing regulations in about 6 months’ time. They want to give space for suppliers to amend their policies and not get left behind.
The Office of the Consumer Protection is now known as the National Consumer Commission (NCC). Consumers can lodge complaints with the new NCC on this number: 0860 266 786 or you can send a fax to 0861 515 259.
Next week we will be looking at some of the implications of the CPA for suppliers of goods and services.