If you have recently bought a product, for example a new laptop and discovered when you got home that the laptop does not want to switch on, you have the right in terms of the Consumer Protection Act, to return the laptop for a refund or to request that it should be repaired or replaced.
Section 56 of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) imposes a build in or outomatic warrenty that all goods sold comply with the following requirements listed in Section 55 of the CPA:
a) They are reasonably suitable for the purposes for which they are generally intended;
b) They are of good quality, in good working order and free of any defects;
c) They will be useable and durable for a reasonable period of time;
d) They comply with the Standards Act 29 of 1993 or any other public regulations; and
e) They are reasonably suitable for the specific purpose that the consumer has informed the supplier that the consumer wants to use them for.
According to the CPA, goods must be returned by the consumer within 6 months, or alternatively within 10 days after the goods were delivered, in the instance where the goods were not reasonably suitable for the specific purpose, that the consumer had informed the supplier of.
The consumer can return the defective goods to the supplier at the supplier’s risk and expense, if the defective goods fail to satisfy the requirements and standards contemplated in Section 55 of the CPA.
The consumer have the choice to decide if he/she wants the defective goods to be repaired, replaced or alternatively insist on a cash refund of the full purchase prise of the product, however in certain circumstances there are exclusions to this rule.
The rules regarding refunds or replacments will not apply if:
1. The product or goods contain many parts, for example a vehicle and only one part of the vehicle is defective, the consumer can not insist on a full refund or replacement of the vehicle;
2. The goods were used in a manner contrary to to the manufacturer’s specifications, alternatively altered contrary to the instructions of the supplier, the consumer will not be entitled to exercise his/her right in terms of the CPA, in the light thereof the the tribunal ruled in the case of Bandera Trading and Projects CC v Kia Motors South Africa (PTY)LTD t/a The Glen (NCT/17829/2014/75(1)(b))  ZANCT 50 , that the rights of the applicant to return goods, were not absolute, even though the consumer returned the vehicle within the implied warrenty period;
3. The consumer was specifically informed that the particlar goods were offered in a specific condition and all the defects were decleared or pointed out by the supplier, whereafter the consumer expressly agreed to accept the goods in that condition;
4. The mere fact that better goods have become available after delivery does not mean that the goods delivered are now defective, a defect to a product must be a defect as defined in Section 53(1)(a) of the CPA; or
5. The use, depleting, damage or depreciation of goods can be considered by suppliers when determining the amount to be refunded to the consumer, for example if the costumer drove a vehicle for 5 months and then return it for a refund or replacement, the dealership can or will in all probability only refund the current market value of the vehicle or alternatively charge the consumer for the goods used.
The CPA applies to suppliers who promote or supplies goods or services in the ordinary course of the supplier’s business and to consumers to whom these particular goods of the suppliers is marketed to, who is a natural person, alternatively a juristic person with an annual turnover or asset value that exceeds R 2 million. The CPA also further applies to new and used goods.
The Section 56 warranty serves in addition to any other implied or express warrenty that has been stipulated by the supplier and or any other implied warrenty or conditions imposed by law, however the terms and requirements of the CPA applies irrespective of the supplier’s refund policy or the terms of the manufacturer. The implied warrenty, if stronger than the supplier’s normal warrenty, wil therefor override the supplier’s warrenty. The supplier’s warrenty can offer more rights to the customer than the act does. For example , a store may accept a refund for goods returned within a specific period and with their original packaging, even if there is nothing wrong with them, althought the act only requires a supplier to accept the return if the goods if they were defective.
By : Andri de Jager (LL.B)