Business have utilized technology and the advent of globalization to make great strides in the goods and services offered to consumers. However, the fast-paced consumer industry, though extremely convenient, can ever so often leave a consumer feeling hard done by, and in South Africa, consumers have recourse in the form of the Consumer Protection Act.
The Consumer Protection Act sets out the minimum requirements to ensure adequate consumer protection in South Africa. All suppliers of goods and services within South Africa need to comply with the requirements set out in the Act. Certain exceptions to compliance are identified in the Act, such as the State.
The aims of the Act are as follows:
- Establish national standards to ensure consumer protection;
- Promote a fair and sustainable marketplace for consumer products and services;
- Promote responsible behaviour by consumers;
- Make provision for improved standards of consumer information as well as prohibit unfair marketing and business practices;
- Establish the National Consumer Commission
Any individual consumer acting in his or her own capacity, authorised to act on behalf of another or representing the interests of a group of people may lodge a complaint in terms of the CPA. The CPA gives effect to the consumer rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights, including the right to fair and honest dealing, fair and honest marketing, reasonable terms and conditions, the right to equality in the marketplace and protection from discriminatory business practice. The right to protection against discrimination ensures equality (a constitutional value), in that no supplier may limit access of their goods and services or prioritise certain groups of consumers over others when marketing and selling their products. In terms of the Act, consumers are also given the right to query the quality of the goods supplied to them. Complaints may lodged with the National Consumer Commission which will then refer the complaint to the Equality court.
The Consumer Protection Act and the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) both emphasise the fact that a consumer cannot be forced into unsolicited direct marketing, has the option to opt-out of such marketing, and cannot be forced to enter into supplier agreements with third parties. Given these similarities, the Information Compliance Department at LabourNet has opted to offer our newly launched CPA product as a value-add to all POPI retainer clients. This add-on will save a company/client both time and money by directly assisting the company in becoming compliant with both Acts at once, as well as indirectly assisting the said company by giving them the necessary tools to watch out for “red flags” in respect of daily interactions with their own clients and suppliers.
Consumer Protection Act has far-reaching consequences
It is important for businesses to understand that the CPA has far-reaching consequences related to everyday interactions. The Consumer Protection Act requires suppliers and service providers to display labelling and descriptions on their packaging that are not misleading to their consumers. Trademark protection is also covered in the Act.
In conclusion, understanding the Consumer Protection Act and compliance therewith is an imperative for businesses in order to facilitate smooth business interactions.
For more information on POPI Act please contact Rory Spindler our Client Relationship Manager on Tel 041 373 2994, Cell 082 415 9012 or email email@example.com