Apr 2021 1st Edition

Know your consumer rights

Written by More Matshediso

Consumer rights are protected under the law. This means people have a right to safe goods, quality services and fair treatment.

If you feel that your rights as a consumer are being violated, you can turn to the National Consumer Commission (NCC) for help.

“The main purpose of the NCC is to administer and enforce the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

“The commission plays an important role in protecting consumers by investigating allegations of suppliers contravening the provisions of the CPA in the country,” says Acting National Consumer Commissioner Thezi Mabuza.

She adds that issues that affect consumers daily range from pyramid schemes to compliance with labelling regulations in the textile industry and excessive and unfair pricing by suppliers.

Despite the commission investigating many pyramid schemes in the past few months, people are still losing their hard-earned cash in these illegal, get-rich-quick schemes, says Mabuza.

“In terms of Section 43 of the Act, it is a prohibited conduct for any person to directly or indirectly promote, join or participate in a multiplication scheme, a pyramid scheme or chain letters. We therefore urge consumers not to take part in these schemes.”

About the CPA

The CPA recognises eight fundamental consumer rights which must be observed by businesses:

  • Right to equality: Prohibits unfair discrimination on the grounds of race, gender or socio-economic status in the provision of goods or services.
  • Right to privacy: Limits the use of consumer’s personal information (cellphone number, ID, address, etc).
  • Right to choose: Gives the consumer rights to select a supplier and purchase goods and services of their choice.
  • Right to information: Gives consumers the right to information in plain and simple language, display of prices, receipts, etc.
  • Fair and responsible marketing: Prohibits the use of force or undue influence in marketing goods and services.
  • Right to fair and reasonable terms and conditions: Prohibits the use of unfair contract terms, unilateral changes to contracts and contracting out of consumer rights, etc.
  • Right to fair value, good quality and safety: Gives consumers the right to safe and quality goods and services, free from defect.
  • Supplier’s accountability to consumers: Gives consumers rights to get their money back, with interest, in instances where the suppliers decided to sell goods bought on lay-by, etc.    

Consumers who believe their rights have been violated, can lodge complaints with the NCC at 0800 014 880 or 012 428 7000 during office hours.

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