Know your consumer rights
Don’t let a supplier get away with supplying a product that doesn’t work or a service that is not what you agreed to.
“Consumer protection starts with consumers, and it’s up to you to know and protect your rights as enshrined in the Consumer Protection Act of 2008,” says National Consumer Commission (NCC) Acting Commissioner, Thezi Mabuza.
“As a consumer, it starts with you taking the right action when you feel that you have been treated unfairly. You have the right to be heard and to get redress. Consumer protection bodies are there to protect you,” she adds.
Mabuza says that it is important that when you enter into a fixed-term contract you understand its terms and conditions.
She also says consumers need to understand the duration of the contract and the terms of terminating the contract.
Consumers should also not take delivery of defective goods, even when a promise is made that the defect will be fixed at a later stage.
“Inspect the goods you are accepting delivery of. Remember that you have a right to safe, good quality goods."
Mabuza added that the goods must be usable and durable for a reasonable period of time (at least six months).
"If the goods fail to meet this, you are advised to take them back to the supplier for a full refund, repair or replacement,” Mabuza explains.
When transacting online, make sure you are dealing with a legitimate business. “Visiting review sites to see what other consumers say about the supplier may be beneficial,” says Mabuza.
Where to get help?
If you feel you have been exploited, you must first complain to the supplier to try and resolve the matter.
“If this fails, you can escalate your complaint to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) agent for mediation. ADRs are provincial consumer affairs offices, such as the Consumer Goods and Services Ombud, for goods and services; and the Motor Industry Ombudsman of South Africa, for motor vehicle matters,” says Mabuza.
If mediation fails, the mediator will advise the consumer to lodge a complaint with the NCC.
For more information about consumer rights and the NCC, visit www.thencc.gov.za.
-This article was originally published in the GCIS Vuk'uzenzele.