By: Natasha Archary
Thanks to the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), the addage “the customer is always right”, may be your biggest bargaining chip with stubborn businesses who play hard-ball with you upon returning a damaged, defected or dissatifactory product. Brands who do not comply with the CPA regulations may land themselves in hot water, especially if they withhold a warranty from a consumer.
The returns and refunds policies in the act puts into effect, four warranties:
Suppliers must warrant that their goods:
- Are reasonably suitable for the purposes for which they are generally intended;
- Are of good quality, in good working order and free of any defects;
- Will be usable and durable for a reasonable period of time (having regard to the use to which they would normally be put and to all the surrounding circumstances of supply); and
- Comply with any applicable standards set under the Standards Act, 1993 or any other public regulation.
No refunds/No returns
If you haven’t been informed of a defect on a product, a retailer cannot enforce a no returns (voetstoots) clause. Factory outlets and clearance sales are notorious for this and as a consumer, if you have not been made aware that a product is defected, you have every right to demand a full refund and for the item to be returned. Don’t feel trapped by shoddy sales people who close the deal but fail to disclose important information to you.
Under the CPA, every product needs to come with a form of warranty or product guarantee – to give you a reasonable timeframe for the item to be in working order. The implied warranty stands as valid, regardless of what the retailers refund policy is and/or what the manufacturers warranty states.
If you are not entirely satisfied with a product you purchase, you may return the item to the supplier within six months of purchase. The supplier may not charge you a penalty or administration/handling fee. The supplier will absolve the costs of the returns and the risk expense.
If the product does not comply with the CPA’s standard warranties, as the consumer you have a right to request that the supplier either:
- Repair the product;
- Replace the product; or
- Refund the purchase price paid by the consumer for the product.
Know your rights
As a consumer you may also return goods if:
- You bought an item through direct marketing but decide to cancel the transaction within the period allowed by the CPA;
- You did not have time to examine the goods after delivery;
- You received an incorrect order and not the item you ordered either online or in-store;
- The goods you wanted were bought for a purpose, however within ten business days after delivery, you have changed your mind or the goods are no longer suitable for the intended purpose.
We have a long way to go before all brands, retailers, suppliers and businesses stick to the CPA regulations and until then, it is upto consumers to enforce the act on stubborn retailers. Your rights as a consumer should not be taken lightly. Retailers need to update their returns policies and many are afraid of what their suppliers will say if something is returned. Not your problem as a consumer, don’t settle for shoddy goods and #KayaKnowYourRights.