South African consumer service bodiesShoddy service, bad quality products, broken promises, and contract foul-ups are just some of the problems faced regularly by consumers. But the rights of South African consumers are protected by law, which means they can demand redress. There are various pieces of powerful legislation in place to protect consumers, the most important being the Consumer Protection Act (Act 68 of 2008) and the National Credit Act (Act 34 of 2005). Consumers also have the right to information and education.
- Visit the National Consumer Forum's website for a full list of consumer protection legislation
Consumer rightsThe Consumer Protection Act outlines key consumer rights, including the right to:
- Be heard: consumers have the right to be heard on issues, policies, plans, programmes and decisions which affect them.
- Safety: consumers must be protected against flaws or hidden dangers in products or services.
- Redress: When you are sold an inferior product or service, you have the right to demand a replacement or a refund.
- Be informed: Consumers have the right to be given all the information they need about a product or service.
- Choice: Consumers have the right to a variety of products and goods that are competitively priced.
- Consumer education: Consumers have the right to education that will empower them to make informed choices.
- Satisfaction of basic needs: Consumers have the right to basic goods and services for survival, such as food, water, education and sanitation.
- A healthy environment: Consumers have the right to a physical environment that will enhance the quality of life.
ComplaintsThere is no need to accept faulty products or shoddy service. First try to settle your complaint directly with the business or service provider. If that fails, you can take it up with your Provincial Consumer Affairs Offices. These offices, in all nine provinces, offer advice, education, information, and protection. There is also a range of statutory, industry and other consumer bodies – see below, or consult the A-Z guide on the right.
Provincial Consumer Affairs OfficesThere are Consumer Affairs Offices, run at provincial level, to provide consumers with protection, information and advice. You can approach a Consumers Affairs Office to intervene in disputes over contracts, quality of products or services. You should first complain to the branch manager or customer care office of the business concerned before asking the Consumer Affairs Office to intervene. These offices have trained staff to advise you on your rights as consumers. You may also want to contact them to find out if a company you intend doing business with has a previous history of complaints against it. Contact details:
- Eastern Cape – 040 609 3050
- Free State – 051 400 4852
- Gauteng – 011 355 8006 or 0860 4288634 (contact centre - option 4) or firstname.lastname@example.org
- KwaZulu-Natal – 031 310 5300 (Durban) or 033 264 2600 (Pietermartizburg)
- Limpopo – 015 293 8300/8367
- Mpumalanga – 013 752 3761
- North West – 018 387 7700 (switchboard) or 018 387 7946/7866
- Northern Cape – 053 839 4000 (switchboard) or 053 830 4870/4854
- Western Cape – 0800 007 081 or email@example.com
Other consumer organisationsNational Consumer Commission Set up to administer the Consumer Protection Act which came into effect in April 2011, the National Consumer Commission is an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry. Responsible for publishing consumer alerts (which warn consumers of scams or unfair business practices) and prohibition notices (business practices declared unfair in terms of the Unfair Business Practices Act, and therefore prohibited by the Minister).
- Website: www.nccsa.org.za
- Website: www.consumerfair.co.za
- Website: www.sancu.co.za
- Website: www.asisa.co.za
- Website: www.fsb.co.za
- Download a guide to handling consumer complaints through Provincial Consumer Affairs Offices [PDF]
- Website: www.ccma.org.za
- Website: www.pprotect.org
- Toll-free number: 0800 11 20 40
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Consumer help A – Z
South Africans – getting shoddy service? Bought a faulty product? Want to complain about a company, government department, dentist, bank, estate agent? Unsure of your rights as a consumer? Help is at hand:
- Consumer organisations
- Advertising and the media
- Banking, loans, credit, debt
- Building, housing, contractors
- Direct marketing, junk mail
- Estate agents, property transactions
- Insurance and pensions
- Lawyers, legal aid
- Medical aid and health
- Motor vehicles
- Other – see below
- Post, parcels, mail
- Telephones and mobile
- Travel and tourism
Other products and services
Got a problem with a product or service not listed above? Auctions, electrical appliances, franchises, furniture, timeshare? And more – see: Other products and services