Expo to help ratify consumer rights

Thuli Zungu Consumer Line
As a consumer, you need to know your rights before signing a contract.
As a consumer, you need to know your rights before signing a contract.
Image: 123RF

Consumer rights are human rights, but they are trampled upon daily, with hapless victims left helpless each time they enter into contracts.

Many lack knowledge about the steps to take before and upon the experience of the abuse of their rights.

Consumer Line can share countless examples of the rights of consumers that are violated on a daily basis. Abuse of garnishee orders is still the order of the day, leaving uninformed consumers paying the same debt more than 10 times.

In some instances, life-time savings get spent on useless degrees because the institutions the students enrolled with are not registered with the South African Quality Institute.

Sometimes the perpetrators of unfair business practices do not even realise the psychological and emotional trauma they cause to families they sold the houses they may never occupy.

The effects on these homeless families is often devastating, resulting in interpersonal strains and potential collapse of traditional family bonds and relationships.

This was exemplified in one of the stories Consumer Line published two years ago, where a pensioner who paid R400,000 for a house ended up in the street because the agent sold him a house which he never occupied.

His son became a criminal and nyaope addict, which stressed the pensioner, who later died of a heart attack.

Second-hand cars still remain the worst nightmare for consumers, especially females who get sold moving coffins and told the defects could be rectified in terms of a warranty instead of exchanging the defective car or cancelling the sale.

Unscrupulous tow truck companies continue to tow consumers' cars against their will and later sell them to defray storage costs at their expense.

As a result, Mabs Market Masterkey in conjunction with Gauteng Office of Consumer Affairs and business Compliance are hosting a Consumer Expo to create and promote awareness and enlighten consumers about their rights and duties.

David Mabusela, a director at Mabs Market Masterkey, said he came up with the concept to launch the Consumer Education Expo 2020 as a platform for consumer-stakeholder relation.

"I have invited all the institutions that profess to help consumers to showcase their services that will enhance the empowerment of consumers across the board," he said.

He said this education will extend through consumer watch features and across print media, TV and workshops. "The expo is about creating awareness and trying to prevent situations leading to infringements of consumers' rights which may lead to disputes. It is more of a prevention is better than cure initiative."

Mabusela said consumers should not wait or be made to wait until exploited before getting informed about their rights.

The targeted participant stakeholder includes the National Credit Regulators, SA Quality Authority, Competition Commission, Financial Sector Conduct Authority, municipalities and various ombudsmen.

The annual and national Consumer Education Expo kicks off on March 15, which is World Consumer Rights Day, until the Human Rights Day (March 21) at Prasa in Park Station, Johannesburg, from 8am until 5pm.

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