Toll-Free Call Centre Abuzz with Consumer Enquiries
Toll-Free Call Centre Abuzz as Western Cape Office of the Consumer Protector Takes 1 000 Queries in Two Weeks
Today, the Western Cape Office of the Consumer Protector logged its 1 000th call from the public since the inception of the new Consumer Protection Act on 1 April 2011.
Western Cape Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, is pleased with the expert manner in which the toll-free call centre has handled the influx: "Despite the massive increase in demand for their services, our toll-free call centre for consumer queries has provided excellent service to the public of the Western Cape and, indeed, to members of the public from other provinces. This service is functioning very well".
Martie Carstens, Communications Manager for the Office of the Consumer Protector, informed the Ministry last week that a large volume of calls had been logged from consumers as far afield as Pretoria, despite our office catering for the Western Cape. "Our office is pleased to provide advice to members of other provinces, but wishes to inform that we are a provincial body, and that citizens of other provinces should please call their respective consumer advice body when possible."
While many calls are for more information on the new Act and to request the training workshops that we provide free of charge, a substantial number of callers have requested assistance with consumer disputes. In most cases, these arise after consumers have attempted to address the matter with the service provider, but have failed to find resolution.
Of the 1 000 calls that have been logged, the OCP is investigating 224 cases, many of which are for goods purchased before the implementation of the Act on 1 April 2011. As such, the provisions of the Act do not apply to these matters. This has proved to be a challenge for the OCP, who are required to explain that the new Act applies only to goods purchased after the 1st of April. "For goods purchased before that date, we will do all that we can to assist in terms of the prior legislation," explained Carstens.
Winde said: "We are thrilled that the consumers of the Western Cape have stepped up to the plate by embracing the new legislation that has been put in place to protect their rights. When we receive bad service or shoddy goods, our instinct is to write it off. In fact, this causes more harm than good. The majority of good vendors are pleased to receive feedback when things go wrong so that they can address it and in so doing, improve their offering. By standing up for their rights, consumers will lead the charge for better service in our country".
Call Centre Numbers for Consumer Complaints
The National Consumer Commission (NCC): 0860 266 786. The NCC will refer callers from the different provinces to the appropriate provincial offices. The Western Cape Office of the Consumer Protector can be reached at the following toll-free number: 0800 007 081.
Consumers are urged to always attempt to resolve matters with the business concerned before calling the Office of the Consumer Protector.