New law will give more protection to consumers

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

Parliament is finalising a law that will put an end to unfair trade practices and protect consumers from being abused by fraudulent businesses.

The final public hearings on the Consumer Protection Bill were held yesterday.

"Bait marketing", where a supplier advertises goods at a certain price but makes none available, is now outlawed.

Consumers tied into two-year contracts will also be allowed to escape from these agreements by giving 20 days' notice.

And any contract that is "excessively one-sided in favour of any person other than the consumer" could be declared unfair and unreasonable.

This arguably includes hire purchase furniture contracts, which see consumers paying much more than they anticipated through hidden costs for revenue stamps, extended warranties and "insurance".

Stores are also compelled to accept returned goods, unless they are damaged, "within 10 business days" for a full refund.

The new law also bans the numerous adverts that make "false representations about the amount of money one can make working from home".

The Bill also stipulates that consumers who enter into lay-by agreements and are then unable to pay are entitled to a refund, after the supplier has charged a termination penalty.

Consumers whose rights have been violated can lodge complaints with a commission that can refer cases to the national prosecuting authority.