Know your consumer rights

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) has urged consumers to exercise their consumer rights.

“Ignorance and failure to exercise consumer rights and policies will continue to fuel the never-ending vicious cycle that continues to condemn most of our consumers to a life of permanent debt and abuse at the hands of unscrupulous lenders and service providers that prey on the lack of readily available knowledge and information,” said the dti’s Director of Policy and Legislation, Siphamandla Kumkani, on Wednesday.

Kumkani was speaking to the community of Motherwell at the Raymond Mhlaba Indoor Sports Centre in the Eastern Cape. His address was part of the department’s national education and awareness campaign, which got underway in that province on Wednesday.

Kumkani challenged residents to ensure that they broaden their knowledge on the dti’s policies and regulations, while also encouraging them to use the information acquired on the day as a reference in their future dealings and purchases from service providers and money lenders.

He stressed that all money lenders must be registered with the National Credit Regulator (NCR).

“This was formulated to counter the pattern of abuse that we had identified [among] money lenders. The most common practice that is prevalent is that of the use of credit life insurance that was standard when consumers were buying on credit.

“We found that there was no sufficient explanation on the implications of this insurance and there were no clearly defined timelines of when it was to come in force. In some worst case scenarios, we found that consumers that were on credit life insurance cover were never notified of this when the cover was supposed to rescue them,” said Kumkani.

The legislations that were discussed during the campaign include the Liquor, the National Gambling, Lotteries Act, National Credit, Consumer Protection, Copyright, Performers and Companies Acts.

Representatives of the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), NCR, National Liquor Authority (NLA), the Eastern Cape Provincial Consumer Protection Office, Eastern Cape Provincial Gambling Board and National Consumer Tribunal (NCT) also attended the session.

NRCS representative William Tladi echoed Kumkani’s call to action by urging consumers to be vigilant in inspecting the authenticity of household appliances that they purchase.

“It is important to note that purchasing an appliance because it is priced cheaper can sometimes have dire consequences. Some of the fires that claim the lives of our fellow citizens, especially in this winter season, are because of defective primus stoves that are sold on the black market,” he said.

Tladi urged people to always scrutinise the appliances they purchase and to always look for the Letter of Authority (LOA) number that is always visibly displayed on the product.

“All authentic local appliances undergo a series of tests and are proven to be in perfect condition for use before they can be introduced into the market,” said Tladi.

The next leg of the campaign will take place at the Queenstown’s Indoor Sports Centre, while the final leg of the campaign in the province will take place at the Gompo Arts Centre in East London on Friday. The sessions will kick off at 10am.

The campaign has previously been held in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal. -

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