CONSUMER AFFAIRS

Consumer affairs

Hi Everyone,

Such great feedback from you all, especially with regards to tricky things like contracts.  The CPA is pretty specific about this and you need to know your rights.  No matter WHAT business has issued the contract – this is what the CPA specifies:

With regards to CONTRACTS  –  automatic contract renewals are not legal. Companies  have to contact you – in writing – between 40 and 80 business days before your contract expires. They have to give you the option to continue your contract, change its terms or cancel it. Note that the contract will continue on a month-to-month basis until you make your choice. You will also be able to cancel contracts at any time. No more waiting for the full 24 months to end. If you’re unhappy, give the company 20 days’ notice – in writing – and you’re home free. And while you won’t have to pay the full value of the contract, keep in mind that you still have to pay anything you owe the company up to the date of cancellation. The company might also charge you a cancellation fee, possibly no more than 10 percent of the amounts still owed.

Something else that has come up often is that old favourite – VOETSTOOTS  – Which literally means “what you see is what you get” It no longer exists. The CPA specifically identifies the consumer’s rights to good-quality products, in good working order, free of any substantial defects, and fit for their purpose. Suppliers will have to let you know of all defects – both obvious and hidden – of your purchase, and you have to agree to buying the product in that condition.
On the property front, “Voestoots” used to protect sellers from the onerous responsibility of providing  comprehensive information to the buyer regarding the condition of a property. Under the CPA the estate agent will be responsible for making detailed enquiries regarding the condition of the property and to disclose those defects that they are aware of.  If not, buyers will have legal recourse and be able to claim compensation.

Still on the property front.  Many consumers do not fully understand the legal jargon involved in contracts and agreements.  They also don’t feel comfortable at the point of purchase to ask questions or make changes.  They often sign something with little or no changes made – to their detriment.  Under the CPA, estate agents will be obliged to use plain and understandable language in their agreements and ensure that consumers have a clear understanding of the legal implications before signing.

Please keep those queries coming through!  Contact me on gjthomo@gmail.com
Remember that if you have any complicated queries – especially those bordering on the legal side –  go straight to the Consumer Council  – KZN Consumer Complaints Hotline number: 0800 333 667 which is a free service to the public. OR  go to the SMALL CLAIMS COURT in Stanger.  This is particularly with regards to money that needs to be claimed back – if it is a small amount. Contact them on 032 551 1201. The only payment involved is the fee payable to the Sheriff – depending on how far he has to travel to serve.

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