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What kind of legal action can you take with shops/suppliers that don’t comply with the CPA?

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.

Comments

  1. gunstonsadmin says

    Hi Kerry-Anne,
    That’s a great question. Section 55 of the CPA provides that goods must be reasonably suitable for the purposes for which they are generally intended,of good quality,in good working order and free of any defects. It goes on to state that the goods must be useable and durable for a reasonable period of time, having regard to the use to which they would normally be put and to all the surrounding circumstances of their supply. These standards are the standards which are now guaranteed by all suppliers by virtue of the operation of the CPA. Basically it boils down to the standard of reasonableness; as well as each case having to be dealt with on its own merits with regard to the surrounding circumstances. A good rule of thumb is that if a reasonable consumer is unhappy or feels cheated by means of an online purchase and any elements of the above guarantee are breached, then the consumer will have a remedy.

    • gunstonsadmin says

      Hi Sue, you can hit the orange RSS feed icon on this or any blog post and our posts will appear in your RSS feed reader.

  2. Neil says

    Hi,

    I am in a bit of a situation as I bought a Tata Xenon Double Cab bakkie from a very well known car dealership chain in SA in December 2010. After numerous arguments with them over purchase price etc I eventually received the car. Since then I have noticed a few things wrong with the car in terms of strange marks on the paint job of the car, the wheels are also vibrating badly which I found out are actualy the control arms etc on the left front wheel that are worn out. I took the car to Kia service centre and they eventually told me that they would have to replace the parts but that they would have to order them and it is taking forever. The car is an accident waiting to happen and frankly the after sales service is disgusting. I have now tried to sell the car again but after speaking to a few other dealers I realised that I would have to do it through the same dealership again as they are still selling the very same bakkies at the same price. I was however told that I would now get +/- R50’000 – R60’000 less for the car so I cannot get rid of it as I just do not have that kind of money lying around but I feel that the car is dangerous and I need to get rid of it. I noticed that my initial trade in is still standing on the dealers floor if that makes any difference. Do I have any leagel grounds to stand on and if so what can I do?

    Kind Regards
    Neil

    • Gunstons Admin says

      Hi Neil,

      Having bought the car in December 2010, the CPA does not protect you (it only protects purchases made after April 1 2011). However if you would like us to assess the merits or your case please contact us at info@gunstons.com.

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