The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) can be singled out as one of the most comprehensive pieces of legislation affecting businesses in South Africa.
The purpose of the Act is to protect the interests of all consumers, to ensure accessible, transparent and efficient restitution for consumers who are subjected to abuse or exploitation in the marketplace, and also to give effect to internationally recognised consumer rights. The CPA has replaced five other pieces of legislation and combined all the provisions into one Act. In addition, the CPA affects more than a hundred other Acts.
Overlapping of the CPA with other legislation such as the Electronic Communications Act and National Credit Act exposes the average business owner in South Africa to various kinds of risks associated with such legislation.
Consumer legislation holds the following consequences for all suppliers in the supply chain, with serious financial implications and even closure of a business if not dealt with timeously and in the correct manner:
- Forfeiture of unsolicited goods without receiving payment
- Search and seizure powers for inspectors
- Fines of up to 10% of annual turnover
- Liabilities and damages payable to consumers even where the supplier is not acting negligently or intentionally
- Minimum warranties and guarantees are required
- Illegal marketing methods are identified and prevented
- Fixed-term agreements with consumers are regulated.
SERR Synergy has a team of qualified Information Compliance Advisors who assist businesses to comply with provisions of the–
- Consumer Protection Act
- Electronic Communications Act
- National Credit Act.
Our value-adding consumer law compliance solutions
- Advising businesses on the alignment of all documents and processes with the above legislation, e.g. money-back guarantees, cooling-off periods, direct marketing, marketing and advertising campaigns, etc.;
- Review of various types of documents such as–
- marketing material
- supplier contracts (terms and conditions)
- invoices, etc.
- Continuous advice and assistance in dealing with legal enquiries relating to clients’ products or services;
- Drafting of terms and conditions and auditing of promotional competitions;
- Assistance with the operation, evaluation and auditing of corporate social responsibility programmes;
- Circumventing legal disputes and civil action by dealing with disputes in the prescribed manner;
- Assistance with any dispute at the Consumer Commissioner, Tribunal or Consumer Ombudsman;
- Registration with Consumer Ombudsman / Consumer Goods and Services Ombud (CGSO) (excluding payment of Registration fees);
- Compilation of statutory-required Complaints-Handling Manual and a public notice.
In the event of a dispute being referred to any legal forum such as tribunals, civil courts or criminal courts, SERR Synergy shall be responsible for all legal expenses up to R150 000 (one hundred and fifty thousand rand) per annum incurred by a business in defending any document or policy amended or implemented on our advice as part of our service.