Consumer Protection Act

Know Your Rights

The time has come for you to swap banks and make those large investments – buying a car or a house could not have come at a better time than the present; the present being October 24, 2010.

The CPA takes privacy seriously.

For Consumers, today heralds a new dawn for consumerism – we, as consumers, are now protected from unscrupulous traders and service providers, regardless what purchases we decide to make, or service we decide to utilize. Consumers have benefited slightly since April the 24th this year, when some provisions of the CPA were put into force.

Regulations regarding the CPA will be available at a later stage in greater detail, and the public is still waiting with abated breath regarding the finer details regarding these.

The insurance industry has been given a respite until April 2012 regarding the CPA, provided that the Financial Services Board brings the Short and Long Term Insurance Act in line with the CPA by this date. The long term and short term insurance industries will also be able to request an exemption from the Department of Trade and Industry. Both insurers and assurers do not have to wait for 2012, though.

A prudent step would be for insurance companies to start the process towards becoming compliant to the CPA.

Some important points to help you understand the CPA better and where it will affect your daily lives are listed below:

It is always prudent, therefore, to be aware of what your consumer rights are.

  • All transactions fall under the jurisdiction of the CPA, where an ordinary business transaction takes place.
  • All transactions will be for ‘consideration’, ‘consideration’ being any exchange where value is involved, whether it be by cheque, credit or debit card, or cash, and It can also include rewards points, and bartering which includes labour.
  • We define a transaction where goods are supplied through either a purchase or through a service, or even goods or services where a franchise arrangement is in place.

When a club or another type of association offers certain goods or benefits to its members or clients, and these do not measure up to the expectations of the client or member, then a complaint can be lodged with the CPA. This is regardless of the size of the organization involved.

All franchisees are protected under the CPA. Goods and services provided by the franchisor are covered by the CPA, whether the franchisor uses the original name or another, this does not change the fact that the franchisee is protected by the Act.

There are certain goods and services that are exempt from the Consumer Protection Act, though, which are listed here:

  • Services which are provided by an employment contract and are covered by the Labour Act are exempt from the CPA.
  • Services and Goods that are provided to the government are exempt from the CPA.
  • Some aspects of the financial services industry are also exempt from the CPA.
  • Industries that are given exemption by the DTI are exempt from the CPA.
  • Any transaction where the consumer is a body corporate or a partnership, association or trust, and the asset value either exceeds or is equal to a threshold that is stipulated by the CPA (This is still to be decided upon), is exempt from the CPA.

Consumer Note:

Early bookings and large discounts offered by large companies are still allowed under the new CPA.

Persons from the age of 55 were given certain preferential products by certain financial houses and banks, but with the advent of the CPA, this will no longer be the case, as the age will be shifted up to 60. ‘Senior’ privileges and special interest rates will only be given to clients that are 60 years old, and upwards. Although, if you are already receiving special interest rates and they have already been implemented, then nothing will change and you will not stand to lose these privileges.

Where goods are offered to a particular religious group the services have to be made available to everyone.

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