Consumer Protection Act: Do consumers know their rights?

by | Nov 14, 2011 | Customer Experience

According to a recent dip-stick survey conducted by consumer experience research specialists, Interact RDT, 90% of 153 South African respondents are aware of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and what it involves.

Interact RDT’s CEO, Dave Benjamin says that this is good news as an informed consumer is a happy consumer.

The survey findings revealed that 87% of the respondents knew that according to the CPA, they had the right to return faulty or unsafe goods within six months of its purchase and could choose between having the goods repaired, replaced or refunded in full.

26% of respondents had returned something over the past six months but only 41% were given a choice between repairing, replacing or refunding the item.

In terms of online purchases, 84% of respondents understood that they had the right to cancel any sale within seven days after receipt of the goods and obtain a full purchase price refund.

That said, 26% of respondents thought that if they were delivered a product that didn’t match the description on the website, they would be entitled to keep it, free of charge.

50% of respondents had made an online purchase within the past six months and 35% had the goods delivered to them.  Of the 35%, the majority were satisfied with the service they received from the supplier.

Regarding direct marketing, 18% of the respondents did not know that they had the right to return goods purchased as a result of direct marketing within five business days without any explanation.  And, 27% thought that they could return the goods only after they received a full refund.

31% had bought a product as a result of direct marketing but 53% were not made aware of their right to rescind the agreement with the direct marketer.  33% of respondents returned the goods purchased and all were paid back in full within 15 working days.

It’s concerning to note that 11% of respondents had received an SMS to enter a competition where the entry/reply fee exceeded network rates.

When it comes to repairs, the majority of respondents knew that a quote needs to be provided before any repair work begins but 36% thought that if the repair work exceeded the original quote, they would be entitled to the job being done free of charge.

53% of respondents had maintenance or repair work done within the past six months but 24% were not issued a quote or estimate prior to the work being undertaken.  Also, 19% of respondents said that the actual cost of the work was more than what was originally quoted.

When asked whether their rights as a consumer had been infringed upon over the past six months, 25% of respondents answered ‘yes’.  But, the respondents knew that they had recourse and 96% had lodged a complaint under the CPA with the National Consumer Tribunal, the National Consumer Commission, a Provincial Consumer Affairs Court or an Ombudsman’s Office.

“Gone are the days of disgruntled consumers – the CPA is the solution to shoddy service in South Africa.  My advice is to be in the know as the more empowered you are, the more businesses will have to start delivering on their promises,” concludes Benjamin.

About the survey

  • 153 respondents completed this online survey during October 2011.
  • 52.94% of the respondents were female
  • 47,06% of the respondents were male
  • 62,09% of the respondents live in Gauteng
  • 15,69% of the respondents live in Kwa-Zulu Natal
  • 11,76% of the respondents live in the Western Cape
  • 7,19% of the respondents live in the Northern Cape
  • 1,31% of the respondents live in the North West
  • 0,65% of the respondents live in Limpopo
  • 1,31% of the respondents live in Mpumalanga

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