World Consumer Rights Day 2018

Whether you're getting your car fixed or cancelling dinner reservations, understanding your consumer rights can save you time and reduse unnecessary frustration.

To commemorate World Consumer Rights Day 2018 the Office of the Consumer Protector (OCP) has decided on the theme Consumer problems in purchasing and buying second hand goods

Consumer buying a car

The OCP created a list of frequently asked questions to assist consumers that are unsure of their rights and obligations. The OCP's campaign is to educate consumers who experiences challenges with the services or products purchased from businesses. You can get more information about the programme here.

You might want to read this information about Hire Purchase Agreements as well.

To mark World Consumer Rights Day on 15 March 2018 we've summarised your rights to help you enjoy quality goods and services.

Who are consumers?

Consumers are people who:

  • Pay for goods or services.
  • Use goods or services.
  • Receive marketing information.

How are consumers protected?

As a consumer you have certain rights that are contained in the Consumer Protection Act. These rights can be asserted should you be of the view that they were transgressed by the business, manufacturer or supplier.  Consumer Protection authorities like us are there to assist and guide you through the process.

What are my rights?

As a consumer, you have certain rights that are protected by law. These include:

1.    The right to fair value, good quality and safety

As a consumer you’ve got the right to be treated fairly. This means that you should receive quality goods and services, regardless of who you are. Should a supplier sell inferior goods to you, you’ve got the right to complain. For example, if you purchase a television set and it stops working within 6 months you have the right to request a refund, replacement or a repair.

2.    Your right to privacy

Have you received emails, calls or SMSes about services you didn’t ask for? If so, you can choose to accept, restrict or refuse to receive such unwanted marketing information.

In the same way, if you sign up for marketing notifications, you can opt out at a later date.

Man shopping

3.    Your right to choose

From choosing a supplier to cancelling and renewing contracts, as a consumer you have the right to:

  • ask for quotations prior to services,
  • refuse additional repairs or maintenance services,
  • refuse payment for maintenance done without your approval,
  • examine the goods you buy,
  • return defective goods and request a full refund, repair or replacement.

4.    Your right to plain and understandable language

Contracts, notices or other documents that are used to create obligations between a consumer and a business should be in a format that's easy to understand for an ordinary consumer. 

5.    Your right to protect yourself against misleading advertising

A supplier shouldn’t use advertising to misrepresent a product or service. At the same time, you have the right to know if there's any limitations or conditions applicable to the availability of goods and services.

6.    Your right to fair and honest dealings

As a consumer, you have the right not to be forced, coerced, pressured, unduly influenced or harassed by a supplier of goods or services. It's also considered to be prohibited conduct if a supplier knowingly takes advantage of a consumer due to their  inability to understand the language of a particular agreement.

Couple shopping

7.    Your right to protect yourself against unfair contracts or terms

Whenever you receive a contract for goods and services, the supplier should ensure that the terms are fair. A supplier should provide a free copy of the contract and tell you about the potential risks of buying this product.

A supplier has the responsibility to provide quality goods. If you bought a television from a store and received one with a cracked screen for instance, you can get a refund.

9.    Your right to be protected in lay-bye agreements

If you cancel a lay-bye agreement, then the business is currently allowed to charge a 1% cancellation fee. This 1% is calculated on the value of the purchase price of the goods.

Where can I complain?

The Consumer Protection Act promotes good business practice and creates a safe environment for all consumers. You have the right to take action and defend your rights.

You can contact the Office of the Consumer Protector in one of the following ways:

Tel: 0800 007 081
Fax: 021 483 5872
Email: consumer.protector@westerncape.gov.za
Post/Walk in: 
Ground Floor,
Waldorf Building
80 St George’s Mall,
Cape Town

The content on this page was last updated on 12 March 2018