Have you ever saved up every dime to buy that brand new gadget, just for it to stop working after a few months of use? “Not a problem, we’ll assess the defect and repair it for you”, many suppliers may say and while this may feel like great customer service, did you know that you are being tricked out of your right to choose a remedy.
The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) provides consumers with, among other noteworthy protections, the right to choose whether you would like a defective good repaired, replaced or refunded within 6 months of purchase.
Yes, you heard that right… that expensive gadget that took the supplier 2 months to repair due to a faulty component having to be shipped from the other side of the globe could have been replaced or refunded within a matter of hours.
But then again, why would the supplier inform you of these rights if it costs them less to repair your defective device then to provide you with a brand-new device right out of the box.
Some suppliers may even maintain that it is their right to repair the defective good and only if that does not work, you may be entitled to a replacement or refund.
That is incorrect and we’ll tell you why…
The CPA gives you the R-R-Right to choose
When a good becomes defective within 6 months of purchase, 3 different remedies become available to you, the consumer, and these are Repair, Replace or Refund. This is owed to the implied warranty of quality, Section 56(2), which is stipulated in the Act, records that:
Within six months after the delivery of any goods to a consumer, the consumer may return the goods to the supplier, without penalty and at the supplier’s risk and expense, if the goods fail to satisfy the requirements and standards contemplated in section 55, and the supplier must, at the direction of the consumer, either—
(a) repair or replace the failed, unsafe or defective goods; or
(b) refund to the consumer the price paid by the consumer, for the goods
The requirements and standards contemplated in section 55
Section 55 states that the requirements for which goods must be sold are suitable for the purposes for which they are intended, free of any material defects and be useable and durable for a reasonable period. A material defect includes a defective component which makes the good, as a whole, unfit for purpose. Therefore, the defective battery in your expensive gadget will make it unfit for purpose and will be non-compliant with the requirements and standards contemplated in section 55. At this point, the implied warranty of quality will kick in and you will be entitled to choose if you want a repair, replacement or refund.
The suppliers right to assess returned goods
Lastly, a supplier does have the right to assess the good to establish the cause of the defect and the defect itself. However, this assessment must be completed within a reasonable time and on completion, the good must not be repaired if the consumer states otherwise. It is therefore in the consumer’s best interest to note their preference prior to handing over the good for assessment and that this preference is in writing, acknowledged by both the supplier, or employee in store, and the consumer.
Now that you know your consumer right to return a defective good, you can approach the supplier yourself and request a repair, replacement or refund. If the supplier fails to comply, you can lodge a complaint with the Consumer Ombudsman or seek legal advice.