Do you know your South African consumer rights? You’ve heard the old saying – if you don’t use your rights, you lose them. Or, in this case, you’re pretty much condemned to a life of unsatisfying customer experiences.
We’re breaking down the nine most crucial consumer rights you need to know to ensure you’re equipped to stand up for yourself and live your very best consumer life!
1. You Have a Right to Equality and Non-discrimination in Marketing
This particular right speaks to the level playing field that should exist for all consumers. Regardless of your age, gender, sexual or religious preference, businesses are not permitted to limit your access to their premises or goods and services or prioritise certain groups when selling or marketing.
This sentiment holds across all metrics, including pricing, quality and geography. If you have experienced discriminatory retail or sales practices, you can approach the National Consumer Commission and the Equality Court for help.
2. You Have a Right to Privacy
You know those super-annoying and unsolicited telemarketing calls and emails we all get spammed with? Well, according to the Consumer Protection Act, we don’t have to put up with them!
While the legislation on businesses cold-calling you and lead-generation services adding you to their databases is complicated, the good news is, if you specifically request them to stop, they are not allowed to continue any unsolicited direct marketing and services once you’ve opted out.
3. You Have The Right to Choose
The ‘right to choose’ is pretty self-explanatory. Consumers have the right to make informed, well-conceived choices without undue pressure from businesses.
Depending on the industry in question, this right is designed to offer consumers the pressure-free opportunity to make the choices that are right for them.
If you’re taking your car into the shop, for example, you shouldn’t be charged for an estimate or cost assessment, and businesses cannot obligate you to accept an offered quote or estimate.
This right is especially relevant when consumers enter into contractual agreements, as it offers protections such as notification of extended terms or the opportunity to opt out of any agreements once the initial contract term expires.
4. You Have a Right to Disclosure of Information
Your right to disclosure of information means businesses must offer contract and agreement-based explanations and details before you sign anything. Plus, they must explain it in clear, understandable language.
These protections extend to everything from pricing information to accurate labelling and categorisation of goods and services, from product classifications and origination to suppliers’ full contact information, business names and registration numbers.
Essentially, the right to disclosure gives consumers access to any information (not subject to business privacy protections) related to their potential purchases.
5. You Have The Right to Fair and Responsible Marketing
While businesses have some leeway in marketing, they generally must tell you the truth about their products, goods and services.
This includes information on pricing, features, access and availability, with businesses generally compelled to ensure the information they are sharing is, to the best of their knowledge, accurate.
Forget about the bells and whistles that define a business’s advertising communications. If you want to know if you can trust them, simply hop onto their website and check just how transparent their business practices are and whether they respect your right to fair and responsible marketing.
6. You Have a Right to Fair and Honest Dealing
According to your right to fair and honest dealing, businesses “are not permitted to use physical force against consumers, coercion, undue influence, pressure, duress, harassment, unfair tactics or any other similar conduct,” whether they are marketing to you, selling to you or demanding payment.
From pyramid schemes to fraudulent dealings, if you can prove your case, then the business in question will be sanctioned, and you can apply for compensation.
Keep in mind, though, that today’s scammers are extremely sophisticated and, in this digital age, are often hiding behind an impenetrable firewall. The most effective way to ensure you’re making the right decision is to research your options on Hellopeter.com.
Hellopeter-registered businesses are verified during registration and display with key metrics such as Trust Index, Star Rating and Net Promoter Score, giving you access not only to reviews from other consumers but also hard, focused data.
7. You Have a Right to Fair, Just and Reasonable Terms and Conditions
Before consumer rights were a ‘thing’, businesses often offered unreasonable terms and conditions purposefully, with a view to consumers defaulting or failing to meet the terms of their agreements, leading to penalties that benefited the business in question.
The consumer protection act means these overtly negative business practices have been significantly reduced. Generally, terms and conditions are consistent industry-wide, as the legislation governing each different industry speaks to what constitutes ‘fair and reasonable’ practices.
If you suspect you are the victim of unfair terms and conditions, you can simply benchmark the terms in question to those on offer across the industry for comparison.
8. You Have the Right to Enjoy Fair Value, as well as Good Quality and Safety
Your South African consumer right to fair value, good quality and safety ensure that businesses must offer a reasonable level of quality across their offerings. Furthermore, they should offer remedy when they fail to meet this standard.
This right essentially ensures that their goods, products and services are offered in good faith, with due regard to the safety of the consumer and the reliability of the product.
9. Right to Accountability from Suppliers
This protects South African consumers who’ve entered into agreements such as lay-bye arrangements, pre-paid services or voucher contracts and memberships.
Because of this right, businesses must handle all such agreements with care, ensuring all deposits, for example, are held safely in appropriate accounts, and holding businesses accountable for non-delivery or non-performance in these instances.
Start Living Your Best Consumer Life
In our experience, consumers get from their consumer journey what they are willing to put into it. To live your very best consumer life, visit labourguide.co.za today to learn about your consumer rights, or simply hop onto Hellopeter.com to find the choices that are perfect for you!