The Rights Of A Consumer - Questions & Answers - Part I | Legal Articles


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The Rights Of A Consumer - Questions & Answers - Part I

Rights Of A Consumer

Central to the purpose of the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (the CPA), is to ‘promote a fair, accessible and sustainable marketplace for consumer products and services and for that purpose to establish national norms and standards relating to consumer protection, to provide for improved standards of consumer information, to prohibit certain unfair marketing and business practices…’

It is not all trading transactions that are concluded flawlessly, and it is against this backdrop that we receive queries with regard to consumer protection matters. In this brief article we shall answer some of the queries for the benefit of others who might require guidance on the same issues.

What does ‘quality goods’ mean in the context of the CPA?

It basically means the goods must be rationally appropriate for the purposes of their normal intended use, in reasonably good working order, without defects, be useable and durable for a reasonable period of time, be in compliance with applicable standards (if any) and be fit for the purpose that the consumer informed the supplier that they want to use it for.

Can a store’s refund policy impede the provisions of the CPA?

No. The provisions of the CPA surpass the refund policies (where applicable) of a store. For example, where the CPA provides for a 6-month warranty of quality, the store may not reduce this to 4 months. However, it will not be unlawful if the store increases the warranty of quality period to 3 years.

Are there any exceptions to liability on warranties of quality?

Yes. Where the supplier explicitly disclosed to the consumer that the goods are defective or may not be fit for the purpose, and the consumer agreed to purchasing the goods in that condition nonetheless. Further, where the goods were altered or tampered with by the consumer after leaving the control of the supplier, the warranty may not be enforceable under these circumstances. 

Is there any limit to the period of a fixed-term contract?

Regulation 5 (1) of the CPA provides that fixed term contracts (where the CPA applies) may not be longer than 24 months, unless;

  • unless such longer period is expressly agreed with the consumer and the supplier can show a demonstrable financial benefit to the consumer;
  • unless differently provided for by regulation in respect of a specific type of agreement, type of consumer, sector or industry; or
  • as provided for in an industry code contemplated in section 82 of the Act in respect of specific type of agreement, type of consumer, sector or industry.

Do fixed-term contracts where the CPA applies automatically terminate upon effluxion?

No. The consumer ought to notify the supplier of their intention to cancel the agreement, otherwise upon the expiration of the period the contract will continue on a month-to-month basis. However, the effluxion of a fixed-term contract does not discharge the consumer from arrears that might have been outstanding during the currency of the contract.

Can a consumer terminate a fixed term contract before expiration of the contract period?

Yes. However, the consumer must give the supplier a notice of not less than 20 business days, informing them of their intention to cancel the contract.

Does the CPA provide for harm caused by purchased goods?

Section 61 of the CPA provides that a retailer, distributor, producer or importer of goods, is liable for any harm (as described in subsection (5)) caused wholly or partly as a consequence of supplying any unsafe goods, a product failure, defect or hazard in any goods or inadequate instructions or warnings provided to the consumer pertaining to any hazard arising from or associated with the use of any goods, irrespective of whether the harm resulted from any negligence on the part of the producer, importer, distributor or retailer, as the case may be.’

Van Deventer and Van Deventer Incorporated: 

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The information and material published on this website is provided for general purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. We make every effort to ensure that the content is updated regularly and to offer the most current and accurate information. Please consult one of our lawyers on any specific legal problem or matter. We accept no responsibility for any loss or damage, whether direct or consequential, which may arise from reliance on the information contained in these pages.

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