Consumer Protection Act
About the Consumer Protection Act

South Africa’s Consumer Protection Act No.68 of 2008 was signed on 24 April 2009 and is effective 1 April 2011.

As consumers, we all need to know that we now have greater rights when dealing with any provider of goods or services.

Here we provide an outline of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). We encourage you to get to know the Act in greater detail to understand how it works for you. You can get more information from the Department of Trade and Industry (www.dti.gov.za ).

We need to know when you have issues with any Standard Bank product or service. Please use our official complaints procedure to log these. Details of this process are available here

What is the Consumer Protection Act?

Who are consumers?

What does the Consumer Protection Act apply to?

How the CPA is being enforced

Fundamental rights the CPA ensures


What is the Consumer Protection Act?

The act is based on fairness and equality for all consumers. In so doing, it provides consumers with a greater level of protection against providers of goods and services.

In brief, this is how the CPA does this:

  • It promotes a fair, accessible and sustainable marketplace for consumer products and services.
  • It lays down norms and standards to protect consumer.
  • It prohibits certain unfair marketing and business practices.
  • It promotes responsible consumer behavior.
  • It lays down laws relating to transactions and agreements.
  • It brings into being the National Consumer Commission and National Consumer Tribunal to enforce consumer protection.

Who are consumers?

Everyone is a consumer because in one way or another we all buy goods and services. We all enter into agreements of sorts for services and benefits.

Juristic persons who fall below the threshold prescribed by the Act will be afforded protection under the Act as a consumer.

As such, any person is protected under the Act in their capacity of a consumer.

What does the Consumer Protection Act apply to?

It applies to every transaction occurring within the Republic of South Africa, including:

  • The promotion or supply of any goods and services occurring within the country; and
  • Goods or services that are supplied or performed.

“Goods” are anything marketed for human consumption. This ranges from food to literature, music to photograph, films to games, software to data, and water to electricity. The Act does provide a comprehensive definition of the “goods”.

“Services” are also defined in the Act and refers to “any work or undertaking performed by one person for the direct or indirect benefit of another”. This includes providing of education, information, advice and banking or related financial services.

How the CPA is being enforced

The Act gives rise to the establishment of the National Consumer Commission, a body assigned to investigate consumer complaints, as well as the National Consumer Tribunal, which is responsible for the adjudication of violations and transgressions of the Act.

Fundamental rights the CPA ensures

The Act lays down nine fundamental rights for consumers.

  • Right to equality in the consumer market.
  • Right to privacy.
  • Right to choose.
  • Right to disclosure of information.
  • Right to fair and responsible marketing.
  • Right to fair and honest dealing.
  • Right to fair, just and reasonable terms and conditions.
  • Right to fair value, good quality and safety.
  • Right to hold suppliers accountable.

Let’s take a closer look at each right.

Fundamental Right No. 1: Right to equality in the consumer market and protection against discriminatory marketing practices

This means that you have the right to the following.

1. Not to be unfairly discriminated against in access to goods or services:

  • Suppliers cannot unfairly limit access to goods and services to a consumer, or class of consumers based on any ground of discrimination;
  • Unfairly discriminate by prioritising any consumer group over others when marketing, selling or distributing their goods and services.

2. High quality goods and services

  • Suppliers cannot vary the quality of their goods and services in a discriminatory manner;
  • Consumers have the right to query the inferior quality of goods and services.

3. Fair pricing of goods and services

  • A supplier cannot unfairly charge different prices for the same goods and services to different consumer based on a recognized ground of discrimination.
  • Consumers should be treated equally, irrespective of gender, race, socio-economic status or geographic location.
  • Consumers have the right to take these issues to the Equality Court or the Commission, who will refer valid complaints to the Equality Court.

Fundamental Right No. 2: Right to privacy

A consumer has the right to:

  • Restrict unwanted direct marketing: this includes unwanted or unsolicited correspondence, SMSs, telephone calls, letters or spam emails, and to decline participation in marketing surveys.
  • Discontinue the receipt of direct marketing at any time.
  • The right only to be contacted during the times stipulated in the Act and Regulations.

Fundamental Right No. 3: Right to choose

A consumer has the right to:

  • Not to be obligated to buy additional products or services from a supplier or designated third party unless the supplier can show the economic or convenience benefit; or the goods and services are offered separately and the price is disclosed.
  • Cancel or renew a fixed term agreement provided they request the cancellation in writing.
  • Request pre-authorisation for repairs or maintenance services.
  • Cancel contracts which arose as a result of direct marketing, within the cooling off period (this is generally five business days).
  • Cancel advanced reservations, bookings or orders where the supplier may request advance deposit for such booking and charge a reasonable charge for the cancellation of such advanced reservations, bookings or orders.
  • Choose or examine goods, even after purchase and delivery.
  • Return goods and seek redress for unsatisfactory services.
  • Retain and not pay for unsolicited services, subject to certain provisions in the Act.

Fundamental Right No. 4: Right to disclosure of information

You have the right to:

  • Information in plain and understandable language.
  • Disclosure of prices of goods and services.
  • Product labelling and trade description.
  • Informed if goods are reconditioned or grey.
  • Be provided with sales record for each transaction setting out the information prescribed by the Act.
  • Disclosure by intermediaries.
  • Ask for identification of deliverers, installers or other related parties.

Fundamental Right No. 5: Right to fair and responsible marketing

As a consumer you have the right to:

  • Protection against bait marketing, which is now prohibited.
  • Protection against negative option marketing, which is now prohibited.
  • Protection against unwanted direct marketing.
  • Protection in catalogue marketing.
  • Protection in customer loyalty programmes.

Fundamental Right No. 6: Right to fair and honest dealings

A consumer has the right to:

  • Protection against unconscionable conduct.
  • Protection against false, misleading or deceptive representations.
  • Protection against fraudulent schemes and offers.
  • Protection against pyramid and related schemes.
  • Assume that suppliers are entitled to sell goods.
  • Open and honest auctioneering practices.
  • Fair substitution and changing of goods.
  • Protection against over-selling and over-booking.

Fundamental Right No. 7: Right to fair, just and reasonable terms and conditions

You have the right to:

  • Protection against unfair, unreasonable or unjust contract terms.
  • Obtain notice for certain terms and conditions.
  • Obtain free copies of agreements/contracts.
  • Refuse prohibited transactions, agreements, terms or conditions.
  • Approach the court to ensure fair and just conduct and terms and conditions.

Fundamental Right No. 8: Right to fair value, good quality and safety

A consumer has the right to:

  • Demand quality service.
  • Safe, good quality goods.
  • Implied warranty of quality.
  • Warranty on repaired goods.
  • Receive warnings on the fact and nature of risks.
  • Recovery and safe disposal of designated products or components.
  • Products monitored for safety or recalled.
  • Claim damages for injuries caused by unsafe or defective goods.

Fundamental Right No 9: Right to accountability from suppliers

A consumer has the right to:

  • Protection in lay-bye agreements.
  • Protection with regard to prepaid certificates, credits and vouchers, and access to prepaid services and service facilities. An example is that prepaid cards have to be valid for three years after issue.

 

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