Leading SA consumer journalist Wendy Knowler says that the Consumer Protection Act, is proving to be largely toothless. Knowler writes: “Thanks to the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), South Africans are among the most protected consumers in the world. That’s wonderful – in theory.
“Of course, for legislation to have any real meaning, for it to give consumers a better deal in practice, it has to be effectively enforced.
“In other words, if a company chooses to disregard the provisions of the act, the consumer should be able to complain to a body set up by the government to enforce the act – and know it will be investigated, and there will be consequences for that company, should they be found to be in breach.
“The National Consumer Commission is that body, but I’m afraid, as many people have discovered since last April when the CPA became effective, it is simply not up to the task.
“In many cases, consumer e-mails are ignored, calls put on hold indefinitely, faxes allegedly lost – in short, many complaints aren’t being taken up at all.
“Just making contact with the body can be a challenge”. Knowler adds that many companies are continuing to trade on their own terms, as if the CPA does not exist.
Consumer Protection Act – you’re on your own