Mar 2011

Purpose of the Consumer Protection Act

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The purpose of the Consumer Protection Act is to prevent consumers from being exploited and harmed. The new Consumer Protection Act protects consumer rights in South Africa and highlights what consumers are entitled to, as well as the responsibility of suppliers of goods and services.

The main objectives of the Act are to:

  • Ensure fair, competitive and responsible markets that work well for consumers and promote ethical business practices.
  • To promote and protect the economic interests of consumers.
  • To improve access to information that consumers require, to make informed choices according to their individual needs.
  • To protect consumers from hazards to their well being and safety.

Consumers have the right to:
Equality: Businesses must not unfairly discriminate against any person based on gender, race or socio-economic status when they provide goods or services.
All consumers should be given the same treatment, access to services, prices and quality when they buy goods.

Privacy: Businesses should not supply customers with goods and services that are unwanted.
A consumer may block unwanted marketing and the business must
abide by instructions from the consumer.

Choice: For example the right to select a supplier, the right to examine goods and the right to return goods.

What are my rights as a consumer?

  • The right to consumer education
    Consumers must be able to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to make informed and confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.
  • The right to disclosure and information Consumers must be provided with the facts needed to make informed choices to ensure their protection against dishonest or misleading advertising and labelling.
  • The right to choice
    Consumers should be able to choose from a range of products and services, offered at competitive prices, with the assurance of satisfactory quality.
  • The right to representation
    Consumer interests should be represented in the making and execution of government policy, and development of products and services.
  • The right to redress
    Consumers must receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, or shabby goods or services.
  • The right to safety
    From a trade and industry perspective, consumers should be protected against production processes, products and services that are dangerous to health or life.
  • The right to a healthy environment
    Consumers should be able to live and work in an environment that is not threatening to the well-being of present and future generations.
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