The new Consumer Protection Act will be implemented on April 1 2011, but some consumers are under the impression that they will be able to take matters to the National Consumer Commission with regard to contracts entered into prior to implementation. This is not the case
Corporate and commercial law firm, Deneys Reitz says in terms of the new legislation, any contracts you signed or transactions you entered into or products you might have bought prior to April 1 will not be subject to the Act.
If you entered into a contract prior to April 1, which you now wish to cancel, the original terms and conditions will apply and you will have to pay the penalty stipulated in your agreement.
The commission will also not entertain complaints regarding goods bought prior to April 1.
The Consumer Commission will also NOT tolerate, nor waste taxpayers’ money on entertaining frivolous or malicious complaints, says Deneys Reitz. The firm says: “The Act is designed to prevent suppliers from taking advantage of consumers and infringing their rights. If consumers take improper advantage of these processes, those who really need protection will suffer.”
It is also worth noting that not all complaints you as the consumer might have, can be dealt with by the Consumer Commission. There are still some issues, like the interpretation of contracts and claims that will need to be addressed by the courts. This is especially relevant in cases where harm was caused due to defective or unsafe products. In these instances, the commission will be in a position to point you in the right direction.
Consumers are also warned that the Act is not there to make a quick buck. There will be very few instances where consumers will be compensated financially. The Act is there to ensure that you, as a buyer, receive what you paid for and are entitled to. It’s also meant to protect you being misled into paying for products and services that don’t exist, are poorly delivered, or are defective.
Deneys Reitz says compliance with the provisions of the Act will take time after implementation on April 1. It has also urged the public, irrespective of what side of the supply chain you are on, to familiarise yourself with the new legislation.
The commission will enforce and implement the Act and issue draft guidelines for lodging complaints from April 1.
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