What Are Your Rights As A Consumer In South Africa?
During 2020 and the ongoing The National Lockdown in South Africa, we have seen significant changes in our reported consumer behaviour. With people spending far more time on their smartphones, taking in almost 39% more entertainment media and having more time and expendable income to shop – it is important to know exactly what your rights are as a consumer and what legislation holds them up.
The Consumer Protection Act of 2008 (“CPA”) codified a host of vital consumer rights including the core, basic consumer rights, which are the following;
- Right to privacy.
- Right to choose your product.
- Right to fair and honest dealing.
- Right to disclosure of information.
- Right to fair and responsible marketing.
- Right to accountability by suppliers.
- Right to fair value, good quality and safety.
- Right to fair, just and reasonable terms and conditions.
- Right to Equality in the consumer market and protection against discriminatory marketing.
Many of the rights mentioned above are commonplace and easily understood by any reasonable consumer. Some rights however stretch further than expected when looked at more closely, such as the right to privacy. In accordance with this right, consumer has the right to refuse any unwanted direct marketing like SMS’s, Calls and emails. According to the CPA, any direct marketing attempts must have an “opt-out” option, and if exercised, the consumer shall not receive any further communication of that sort.
The much anticipated Protection f Personal Information Act has expanded on this further to say that a consumer must expressly give their consent to receive directing marketing communication and that a supplier may only ask for this consent one time. This may be handy to know the next time you receive unwanted sales call or messages.
The right to choose your product, enshrines many others including; the right to select your supplier after investigating which shop has the best option for you; the right to cancel a fixed term contract; the right to request pre-authorisation (a plumber cannot charge you an amount contrary to the agreed upon quotation); the right to return goods and seek recourse for unsatisfactory services and the right to choose and examine goods even after delivery.
In terms of a consumer’s rights to disclosure of information, adverts are strictly regulated to ensure that marketed products display the related price, that it is described in plain and understandable language, expressed in Rands, and is affixed to the item or a tag. Suppliers are also prohibited from making false claims or misrepresentations to coerce you into purchasing their goods or services.
If the price displayed is an obvious error, the supplier would not be bound by it if they correct the price displayed and take reasonable steps inform the consumer of the pricing error. A supplier would further not be liable for a change in price if an unauthorized person has altered, defaced, covered or removed a price displayed by the supplier.
As a South African consumer, whether you are shopping in person or online, your rights as a consumer are there to protect you and your buying power. As our country crawls out from the current stunted economy, the pressure to buy will only increase. Having a solid understanding of your rights and responsibilities as a consumer is more important than ever.