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Legal Talk South Africa: The Consumer Protection Act No 68 of 2008: Section 56 (2)

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Currently there is so much confusion about the Consumer’s Right to choose a Repair, Replacement or Refund in respect of Damaged or Defective Goods.
We therefore thought it apposite that we address this issue in a blog.
As we all know by now the Consumer Protection Act (CP Act) came into operation at midnight on the 31st March 2011.

Section 56 (2) of the Consumer Protection Act, No 68 of 2008 reads as follows:

“Within six months after the delivery of any goods to a consumer, the consumer may return the goods to the supplier, without penalty, and at the supplier’s risk and expense, if the goods fail to satisfy the requirements and standards contemplated in section 55 (Consumers rights to safe , good quality goods) and the supplier must, at the direction of the consumer, either:
1. Repair or replace the failed, unsafe or defective goods, or
2. Refund to the consumer the price paid by the consumer for the goods.”
That seems pretty straight forward.
If that is so; why do so many suppliers duck and dive and attempt to avoid their legal obligations to the consumer and their customers. The answer is also pretty straight forward. This is a nuisance to a supplier and they need to take time out and incur cost in repairing, replacing or refunding a consumer for an item that they have already sold to them. Things were far too comfortable for suppliers before the advent of the CP Act.
One also has to look at the definition of “a consumer” and “a supplier.”

Section 1 is the definition section of the CP Act.

In section 1; “a consumer’ is defined in great detail. It will suffice for the purposes of this blog to simply quote from the definition: “A consumer means a person to whom those particular goods or services are marketed in the ordinary course of the supplier’s business.” The section then goes on to give a more comprehensive detailed definition which it is not necessary to repeat here. Suffice it to say that the definition of a consumer is very wide.
Section 1 also defines “a supplier” which means: “A person who markets any goods or services.”
As one can see; this is also a very wide definition.
As a consequence, the CP Act covers both goods and services provided by a supplier to a consumer. That is the big picture.
The CP Act also applies to almost all unsafe, damaged and defective goods.
As a consumer of both goods and services our section 56(2) choice, as consumers, of “repair, refund or replace” in respect of damaged or defective goods is in addition to; and over and above the manufacturer’s warranty; and also in addition to, and over and above, any common law remedies that we may have; for example; where latent defects were deliberately not disclosed to us by a supplier. You could very well then have three separate avenues available to you in a dispute with a supplier: 1 the CP Act; 2; the common law remedy and 3; the manufacturer’s warranty; provided that that dispute relates to unsafe, damaged or defective goods or services.
The most important lesson to be learnt, by all of us consumers and clients, from this blog; is that the Consumer Protection Act is a wide ranging piece of legislation, put in place by Parliament to protect consumers.
We intend over the next few months from time to time to return to the CP Act and to analyse and explain other aspects of this important piece of legislation.

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