Consumer Rights and YOU
Have you ever bought a product that was faulty, or sat down to eat at a restaurant and not get what you ordered? You’ll be glad to know that you have a right to complain if you are unhappy. As a consumer of products and services, you are protected by the Consumer Protection Act whenever you…er…consume things. Here’s how to complain:
Your rights when products aren’t right…
Your consumer rights are set out clearly in the Consumer Protection Act (No. 68 of 2008). A lot of it is lawyer-speak, but luckily we won’t make you read the entire thing. As a consumer, you have the right…
- …to privacy. You’re allowed to “opt out” of promotional SMSes and emails that you didn’t ask for.
- …to choose. This means you’re allowed to shop around for the best deal. You also have the right to return goods if they are unsatisfactory, not what was advertised, defective or downright unsafe – providing you request this within a reasonable time.
- …to fair and honest dealing. This means that products and services have to be what they are being advertised as, and that claims from a manufacturer have to be fair, honest and true to the advertised product. Some of this law also deals with false money-making scams which hook many.
- …to information disclosure. “Information” includes things like the right to an invoice, and the right to ask for things to be explained in plain language when there’s something you don’t understand.
- …to fair and responsible marketing. This one pertains to things you are unable to inspect beforehand, like buying from a catalogue: When buying unseen, who you are buying from must be able to provide details like their address, registered name and details on where to complain if you are unhappy.
- …to value, quality and safety. You are allowed to ask for quality service and safe goods, and you have the right to ask for a full refund or return if the product doesn’t match up.
- …to fair terms and conditions. Again, you are allowed to ask if you find anything unclear. It’s your right to ask questions, inspect and ask around before you buy anything!
How to Complain
Now that you know your rights, here’s how to put them into action when you feel that you’ve been wronged…
- Complain at the store. Complain immediately: Take your item back to the store (with your till slip), or ask to speak to the manager. Most stores and restaurants are happy to fix the issue here with a return or refund.
- Take it to head office. If you don’t manage at the store, contact the company’s head office or main complaints department with the details of your complaint.
- The NCC. The National Consumer Commission also deals with the Consumer Protection Act. If all else fails, lodge a complaint directly with the NCC by getting in touch with your province’s branch.
As last notes, make sure your complaints are reasonable, always remember who you speak to in-store and over the phone, take detailed pictures when you can and lastly, always keep till slips, as lodging most complaints will need one.
By: Alex J. Coyne