World Consumer Rights Day Focuses on Telecommunications Industry
It is World Consumer Rights Day on 15 March, with this year’s focus on the telecommunications industry.
The global theme for World Consumer Rights Day 2014 is “Fix Your Phone Rights”.
This follows a recent spike in the number of complaints received related to faulty cellphones and disputed phone bills.
Alan Winde, Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, said the Western Cape Office of the Consumer Protector has embarked on a province-wide education programme. This includes radio slots and awareness campaigns in popular shopping malls. The OCP team have already visited Swellendam, Paarl and the Cape Town CBD.
Minister Winde said the number of people who own cellphones has more than doubled over the past decade.
“In 2001, only 41% of Western Cape households had cellphones. By 2011, that figure had jumped to 88%. The Office of the Consumer Protector has received 64 cellphone-related complaints between April 2013 and January 2014. While this is a relatively small figure, it is evident that consumers have concerns,” said Minister Winde.
In this financial year, the Western Cape OCP received 16 000 complaints in total.
Phenias Ncube, who runs the consumer education programme in the OCP, said there was a rise in cellphone-related complaints across the world.
“Developments in mobile telecommunication continue to deliver real benefits to consumers across the globe. However, our critical concerns remain about consumers’ right to information, security, privacy, mutual trust and fairness.
“Consumers often feel short-changed by their service providers, either because of unfair contract terms and conditions or because of legal jargon often used in consumer contracts. But their signatures hold them to these contracts and service providers can by law charge consumers if they want to cancel their contracts,” said Ncube.
In celebration of World Consumer Rights Day, the OCP would also like to remind consumers of the nine consumer rights enshrined in the Consumer Protection Act:
- Right to equality in the consumer market.
- Right to privacy.
- Right to choose.
- Right to disclosure of information.
- Right to fair and responsible marketing.
- Right to fair and honest dealing.
- Right to fair, just and reasonable terms and conditions.
- Right to fair value, good quality and safety.
- Right to accountability from suppliers.
Residents with consumer complaints may contact the OCP on 0800 007 081 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For details on OCP awareness programmes, contact the Office of the Consumer Protector on 021 483 9282.