'Every day should be consumer rights day'

By Staff Writer
World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) is will be celebrated this Sunday, 15 March.

The rights for consumers have evolved from when they were first introduced in 1962, by then American President John F. Kennedy.

These rights have now been adopted by the United Nations (UN) guidelines. As a member country of the UN, South Africa has promoted the Consumer Protect Act (CPA), and the National Credit Act (NCA) to help protect the consumers.

The National Consumer Commission (NCC) in partnership with the National Credit Regulator (NCR) will from 14 to the 20 March 2015 host a consumer awareness drive.

The theme of the drive will be “Consumer rights are Human Rights.”

This is to particularly mobilise vulnerable consumers to know how to take ownership of and demand their rights as key role players of the economy, said the NCC.

“Consumers play a critical part in the growth of the economy. It is imperative that we create an enabling environment for them to participate easily, without discrimination, especially with the sluggish economic growth that we currently experience as a country,” said the NCC Commissioner, Ebrahim Mohamed.

He went on to say that in his view, consumer rights day should be every day.

The Consumer Protection Act

The CPA recognises eight fundamental consumer rights, which must be observed by businesses.

These are:
  • The right to equality in the consumer market,
  • Privacy,
  • Choice,
  • Disclosure and information,
  • Fair and responsible marketing,
  • Fair and honest dealing,
  • Just and reasonable terms and conditions,
  • As well as the right to fair value, good quality and safety.

The National Credit Act

When a consumer enters into a credit agreement, for example, taking out a loan, then the consumer is entitled to certain rights, according to the NCA.

“A consumer has a right to challenge the accuracy of any information held by the credit bureau,” said Nomsa Motshegare, the CEO of the NCR.   

These include:
  • Right to apply for credit,
  • Protection against discrimination in respect of credit,
  • Right to reasons for credit being refused by a credit provider,
  • Right to information in official language,
  • Right to information in a plain and understandable language,
  • Right to receive documents under credit agreement,
  • Right to confidential treatment,
  • Right to access and challenge credit records and information held by the credit bureau, and
  • Right to assistance for over-indebted consumers.

“If a consumer has challenged the accuracy of information proposed to be reported to a credit bureau, a credit provider must provide a copy of any such credible evidence to the consumer who filed the challenge or remove the information, and all record of it from its files, if it is unable to find credible evidence in support of the information,” said Motshegare.

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