World Consumer Rights Day: Stand Up for Your Rights
In light of the high levels of indebtedness in South Africa, on the occasion of World Consumer Rights Day, today15 March 2013, the Western Cape Government encourages the public to learn and stand up for their rights as consumers.
World Consumer Rights Day is an awareness day, first celebrated in 1983 as an annual occasion for coordinating citizen action and support within the international consumer arena. The day is an opportunity for promoting the basic rights of all consumers, demanding that those rights are respected and protected and raising concerns about the market abuses and social injustices which may undermine them.
Western Cape Minister of Economic Development, Alan Winde, said: “I encourage all residents of the Western Cape to familiarise themselves with the laws that protect them as consumers and demand that they are adhered to in all financial transactions. South Africans are currently drowning in over-indebtedness. The first step to fixing this is knowing what your rights are as a consumer and acting upon them. According to the National Credit Regulator, consumers have the following rights in credit transactions:
- An understandable credit agreement in plain language
- A quote and pre-agreement statement binding for five days
- Advertising and marketing which contains all the information on cost of credit
- Limited credit sales whist you are at work and home
- The regulation of automatic credit limit increases
- The prohibition of reckless lending
- Regulated fees and interest on all credit agreements, including microloans
- Assistance when over-indebted
- The right to one free credit report per year and
- Debt Counselling to enable the restructuring of debts”
“Where your rights as a Consumer are infringed, you must contact the Office of the Consumer Protector. The Office of the Consumer Protector will act as a ‘prosecutor’ before the Consumer Tribunal, a special court that hears consumer complaints.” Minister Winde added.
In commemorating World Consumer Rights Day, the Western Cape Office of the Consumer Protector (OCP) will conduct awareness activities and workshops across the province. It is envisaged that the various initiatives will provide consumers a platform to further engage with a wide spectrum of role-players within the consumer protection arena and thereby obtain valuable insight and information.
In the Cape Metropolitan area the OCP will be conducting a consumer rights exhibition in conjunction with the City of Cape Town’s Ombudsman’s office. The Office of the Consumer Protector will also be joined at this event by the National Credit Regulator (NCR), Council for Medical Schemes (CMS), Credit Information Ombud, the National Debt Mediation Association (NDMA) and the Council for Debt Collectors.
In areas outside the Cape Metropole, workshops with community members and other interested parties will also be conducted. The information sessions and workshops will focus on providing basic information to consumers, business and other interested parties.
The Western Cape Office of the Consumer Protector can be contacted on 0800 007 0081, a toll-free hotline.
Phumzile Van Damme
Spokesperson for Minister Alan Winde
Cell: 082 378 2235