WHAT IS THE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT?
The Consumer Protection Act, No. 68 of 2008 was signed on 24 April 2009.
It aims to:
- Promote a fair, accessible and sustainable marketplace for consumer products and services;
- Establish national norms and standards to ensure consumer protection;
- Make provision for improved standards of consumer information, to prohibit certain unfair marketing and business practices;
- Promote responsible consumer behaviour;
- Promote a consistent legislative and enforcement framework, related to consumer transactions and agreements;
- Establish the National Consumer Commission; and Replace, in a new and simplified manner, existing provisions from five acts, including the Consumer Affairs (Unfair Business Practices) Act of 1988; Trade Practices Act of 1976;Sales and Service Matters Act of 1964; Price Control Act of 1964; and Merchandise Marks Act of 1941 (specifically Sections 2-13, and 16-17).
Who may lodge consumer complaints?
- An individual;
- An authorised person acting on behalf of another;
- A person acting as a member or in the interest of an affected group or class; or
- A person acting in the public interest (amicus curiae/leave of tribunal or court association, acting on the interests of its members).
The Consumer Protection Act applies to the following:
- Every transaction occurring within the Republic of South Africa;
- Promotion or supply of any goods and services occurring within the Republic; and
- Goods or services that are supplied or performed, in the Republic, in terms of transactions mentioned in the Act
The Act is not applicable in respect of:
- Goods or services promoted or supplied to the state;
- Industry-wide exemption being granted to regulatory authorities;
- Credit agreements, in terms of the National Credit Act, but not goods or services;
- Services under employment contracts;
- Agreements giving effect to collective bargaining agreements; and
- Agreements giving effect to bargaining agreements (Section 213 of the Labour Relations Act).
The Consumer Protection Act has two (2) implementation dates:
1. Early effective date: Twelve (12) months after signature (April 2010) – Chapters 1 and 5, Section 120 (regulations) will become operational; and
2. General effective date: Eighteen (18) months after signature (October 2010) – date on which all provisions of the Act will be applicable.
Who is a ‘Consumer’
Consumers are persons to whom goods or services are marketed, who have entered into transactions with suppliers, users of particular goods or recipients/beneficiaries of services
What are Consumer Rights?
The Bill of Rights enshrines the rights of all South Africans – including consumer rights. The Consumer Protection Act further outlines these key consumer rights, of which all South African consumers should be aware. These include the following:
- Right to Equality in the Consumer Market and Protection Against Discriminatory Marketing Practices;
- 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; and
- Right to Accountability by Suppliers.