The appliance you bought at your local store doesn’t work when you get it home, so –
— You take it back and demand a refund.
— The store refuses and insists on repairing or replacing it instead.
— You know enough about your rights in terms of the Consumer Protection Act to insist that you get to choose between a refund, replacement or repair – it’s not the store’s choice.
— But still the store refuses to refund you, so you complain to the NCC – the National Consumer Commission.
The problem is that the NCC has increasingly come under fire from consumers complaining of failure to deal speedily and effectively with even routine complaints.
So what are your alternatives?
If litigation is premature (take advice in doubt) look for someone else to complain to – many industry associations have their own Ombuds mandated to investigate consumer complaints involving their members.
Good news is that the “Ombud option” has just been extended to your local retail store and the like – retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers of “consumer goods” now fall under an Ombud scheme just launched by the Consumer Goods Council South Africa. The new scheme is voluntary and enforceable only against industry subscribers, but with CGCSA having over 11,000 members, it looks like a worthwhile first point of reference if you are on the receiving end of defective, unsafe or unsuitable goods.
Find out how to lodge a complaint, and download a copy of the Code of Conduct for suppliers, at www.cgso.org.za.