In South Africa, and around the world, all consumers have rights. Theseconsumer rights in terms of the Consumer Protection Act, Act 68 of 2008, are:
- The right to equality
- The right to privacy
- The right to choose
- The right to disclosure of information
- The right to fair and responsible marketing
- The right to a fair and honest dealing
- The right to fair, just and reasonable terms and conditions; and
- The right to safe and good quality goods
So, what happens if you feel like your rights have not been protected? In this article below, I discuss a few rights consumers have when it comes to buying and returning goods, on-the-road fees when it comes to buying a new car and club fees.
Consumer Protection Act
Here are a couple of things we need to know/remember when it comes to the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).
If you buy something from a shop and it is defective or unsuitable for the purpose that it was bought for, you may take it back within 6-months and the shop has to either repair the article, r give you the full purchase price back. It is up to you to decide if they refund or repair the product. If they have to repair the product, you automatically get a 3-month warranty on the repairs.
Let’s look at an example.
Firstly, the product has to be from a business which, in its normal course of business, sells these items. It won’t work if you buy a lawnmower on Gumtree from an individual. That person doesn’t sell lawnmowers in their normal business, they have concreted their yard and now they don’t need the lawnmower anymore. But if you go to a hardware shop and buy a lawnmower, there are lots of different lawnmowers on the floor and they sell lawnmowers in their normal business, then if after the motor seizes up after 4 months, you can take it back and demand a full refund, or they must repair the lawnmower.
Another instance to consider is reconditioned goods. Often you will take a lawnmower back and demand a full refund and the shop will take it back, the workshop will fix it, touch it up, so that it looks new again and then put it on the floor with the other new lawnmowers. This is not allowed. If they do fix it and put it back on the floor to be sold, then it has to have a sign on it which clearly says that it has been repaired and reconditioned.
It is very nice to have laws and rights, but what do you do if you take the lawnmower back to the shop and they say sorry, we can’t help you? Here are 6 things you can do in this case:
- Contact the shop in writing, and keep copies of anything you send them, if you phone and discuss, then follow up the phone call with an email confirming what was discussed
- Know what you want, fixed or refunded, and tell them
- Make copies of all the documents, the tax invoice, quotes, emails etc
- Write down the dates and what happened
- Follow up in writing and after a reasonable time if you have no joy, or they refuse to assist you
- Contact the Consumer Goods and Services Ombud and let them investigate the case
On-the-road fees when buying a new car
It’s an exciting time when it is time to buy a new car. You go on an exciting search and you find the car you want, get a quote and in the quote is an on-the-road-fee.
This fee can include delivery, fuel, licence and registration if they do it for you. You can do all of this yourself if you want to and they may not charge you more than it cost them. It is allowed to be included in the purchase price and allowed to be included in the finance.
But here is where the problem comes in. Certain dealers also loaded others fees onto that fee.
Here is an example:
- Checking the car (R1600) – it’s a new car, it should already be checked
- Car mats (R730)
- Number plate holders (R150)
- Service pouch for the service book (R450)
- Keyring (R70)
Here, an extra R3000 was added to the cost of the car for stuff you probably didn’t even want The worst part is, that it is added to the finance. The keyring, the mats, the checking of the car and the service pouch added R3000 to your finance and you are paying those things off over 60 or 72 months at an interest of 10 to about 14%. In other words, you are now paying off your car mats over 5 years.
When you open a clothing account, very often you will be asked, and sometimes not even asked at all, whether you want to join the club. In return for joining, you get a magazine very often and a whole lot of special offers and information. If you want all of this, then it is up to you to pay the extra R40 – R80 per month.
But what if you don’t want it? There have been a number of legal cases where the National Credit Regulator has taken big retailers to court over club fees being added to accounts automatically.
When you open a new account and you see club fees, and you don’t want them, then say no. It is illegal to force anyone to belong to the club and it cannot be included in your application for credit. There is no such thing as you automatically join the club unless you specifically ask. They have to make you aware that you are joining the club and explain all the terms and conditions beforehand.
If you are already part of the club, and you don’t see any benefit from belonging to their club, then cancel your club membership in writing with the shop.
These tips and more will be on our Facebook page, so be sure to follow along to ensure you educate yourself on consumer rights, it will save you a lot of money and irritation in the future.
If you need more information on your consumer rights, contact RD Debt Counselling:
Phone: 011 421 2918
Address: 133 Newlands Ave in Benoni
Catch Russell on East Rand Stereo, every Saturday morning at 08:15.