Consumers must be taught about their rights

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pretoria - There is a need for consumers to be taught more about their consumer rights and the Consumer Protection Act, says Minister in the Presidency: National Planning Commission Trevor Manuel.

Speaking at the 2011 Consumer Rights Conference held in Midrand today, Manuel said many families were in debt because they lacked knowledge on financial issues.

"We need to understand what the Consumer Protection Act is all about," he said, adding that government needed to drive consumer education vigorously.

Manuel cautioned that people should only borrow what they can afford.

There were 18.84 million credit active people in South Africa and about 8.8 million of this figure were described as having impaired credit.

National Consumer Commissioner, Mamodupi Mohlala, urged consumers who have had their rights violated or ignored to contact her office.

She said on average, her office received about 7 000 complaints per month - the bulk of which was from the motor industry, followed by complaints about telecommunications tariffs and handsets.

Mohlala said the complaints in the motor industry were mostly from clients who bought cars thinking the vehicles were new only to discover that they actually bought old cars.

"Incorrect prices and failure to adhere to the Consumer Act by the sellers keeps us on our toes as we deal with such complaints daily," she said.

She urged consumers that when lodging their complaints, they must provide full details as this helps to speed-up the processes of finding a solution to their problems.

The National Consumer Commission can be reached on 0860 266 786.