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THE time for companies to implement the new Consumer Protection Act is just around the corner.
The long road to complete protection for consumers will start with a conference and workshops, which are aimed at ensuring that business knows exactly what is expected of them come October 2010.
The act will provide effective, accessible and efficient systems of redress for South Africans.
Businesses have been given an 18-month window period to align their trading practices to comply with the act.
During this time, they will have to redraft agreements, revise policies and ensure that there is sufficient quality control.
The conference, on August 19 and 20 at The Arena, in Fourways, Johannesburg, will educate companies that keep consumers in perpetual bondage and refuse to release them when they want to cancel a holiday club contract.
Certain provisions of the act will apply to particular long-term and fixed agreements, even before the act comes into effect.
Customised Skills Development (CSD) will run the conference .
Mabel Dolamo of the SCD says the aim iss to ensure that businesses know exactly what they need do in order to comply before the implementation of the rest of the act.
The act was signed into law on April 29. It places certain obligations and prohibitions on suppliers and it will have a significant effect on the way business is conducted countrywide, Dolamo says.
The act touches on many aspects of supply relationships, including warranties, pricing, standards of service and quality, advertising, labelling, marketing and others.
Rosalind Lake of Deneys Reitz Attorneys says the act introduces a bill of rights, granting consumers wide-ranging powers to cancel contracts within "cooling-off" periods, to refuse to purchase "bundled" products or services, to cancel fixed-term agreements if not satisfied with their terms and to block approaches by direct marketers, among many others.
"There is also a distinct focus throughout the act on clear and understandable language and ensuring that the consumer is not misled by the supplier," Lake said.
The act will be introduced in two parts to allow businesses a reasonable time to align their trading practices and systems with the act, she says.
The sections governing the establishment of the National Consumer Commission - an enforcement and investigative body - will come into operation on April 24 2010 as will the regulations to be promulgated in terms of the act.
The remainder of the act will come into force on October 24 2010.
Consumer law experts at the conference include the Trade and Industry Department, getclosure!, Simplified, Werksmans Attorneys, Deneys Reitz Attorneys, Hahn & Hahn Attorneys, Logan Attorneys, Onlineombud.com, Icasa, Unisa and the South African National Consumer Union.
Call 011-793-3076, fax 086-548-2440 or e-mail email@example.com for more on the conference.