The Con­sumer Goods & Ser­vices Om­buds­man - Part 1

IM­PLI­CA­TIONS FOR THE TOURISM IN­DUS­TRY

Tourism Tattler - - EDITORIAL -

WHO OR WHAT IS THE CON­SUMER GOODS & SER­VICES OM­BUDS­MAN (‘CGSO’), WHAT ARE THE IM­PLI­CA­TIONS, AND WHAT MUST THE TOURISM IN­DUS­TRY DO?

The of­fice of the Con­sumer Goods & Ser­vices Om­buds­man (‘CGSO') was es­tab­lished (early 2015) in terms of sec­tion 82 of the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act 2008 (Act No. 68 of 2008) (‘the CPA'). Suc­cinctly the pur­pose of the CGSO om­buds­man is the fol­low­ing:

• Guide In­dus­try – set min­i­mum stan­dards of con­duct re en­gag­ing with Con­sumers AND as­sist in re­solv­ing Dis­putes;

• Raise the stan­dards of con­duct;

• Of­fer Guid­ance re com­pli­ance CPA and fair busi­ness prac­tices;

• Ed­u­cate Con­sumers as to their rights and re­dress;

• Pro­vide for a scheme of al­ter­na­tive dis­pute res­o­lu­tion such as me­di­a­tion.

The CGSO Code of Con­duct (‘the Code') is en­force­able against Con­sumer Goods & Ser­vice In­dus­try Par­tic­i­pants – who are the lat­ter?

The eas­i­est way to ex­plain this is to list the rel­e­vant def­i­ni­tions that ap­pear, bear­ing in mind that any def­i­ni­tions, words and phrases used will have the same mean­ing as in the CPA:

‘Con­sumer Goods and Ser­vices In­dus­try' means all Par­tic­i­pants in­volved in the Sup­ply Chain that pro­vide, mar­ket, of­fer to sup­ply Goods and Ser­vices to the Con­sumer, un­less ex­cluded in terms of 4.4 hereof (i.e. if they are sub­ject to an­other om­buds­man e.g. Bank­ing).

‘Par­tic­i­pant' means any en­tity op­er­at­ing within the In­dus­try.

‘Sup­ply Chain' is de­fined in the CPA as fol­lows:

‘sup­ply chain', with respect to any par­tic­u­lar goods or ser­vices, means the col­lec­tiv­ity of all sup­pli­ers who di­rectly or in­di­rectly con­trib­ute in turn to the ul­ti­mate sup­ply of those goods or ser­vices to a con­sumer, whether as a pro­ducer, im­porter, dis­trib­u­tor or re­tailer of goods, or as a ser­vice provider (thus in­cludes in­ter­me­di­aries such as travel agents & tour pop­er­a­tors). It's manda­tory for all Par­tic­i­pants to do the fol­low­ing:

• Com­ply with pro­vi­sions of the Code;

• Reg­is­ter with CGSO as per the pro­ce­dures pro­vided on the CGSO web­site from time to time;

• Con­trib­ute to­wards the fund­ing of the CGSO;

• Es­tab­lish in­ter­nal com­plaints-han­dling process;

• Mon­i­tor com­plaints;

• Dis­play on its trad­ing premises the CGSO de­cal and on their web­site a pre­scribed no­tice that states they are Par­tic­i­pants to Code and bound by it;

• Make a copy of Code and/or sum­mary thereof and its in­ter­nal com­plaint-han­dling pro­ce­dure avail­able to any Con­sumer upon re­quest;

• En­sure staff and agents have ad­e­quate knowl­edge of CPA, Reg­u­la­tions is­sued, Code and in­ter­nal com­plaints-han­dling pro­ce­dure – this means that train­ing of the CGSO and CPA per se is cru­cial and must be on­go­ing;

• Keep records for 3 years of the Com­plaints re­ceived and record­ing that a Con­sumer was re­ferred to CGSO for as­sis­tance in re­solv­ing; de­tails of the Com­plaint, in­clud­ing de­tails such as na­ture, time in­volved, whether it was re­solved and if so the rem­edy pro­vided/ not re­solved;

• Such data must be used by the CGSO to high­light re­cur­ring com­plaints, be shared with man­age­ment, staff, and In­dus­try;

• Be­hav­iour to re­solve Com­plaints and Dis­putes must be in ac­cor­dance with the law, the spirit and pro­vi­sions of this Code and the CPA – the ref­er­ence to ‘the spirit' is im­por­tant e.g. do not ex­clude li­a­bil­ity for gross neg­li­gence in your T&C and/or in­dem­nity and hope no-one will no­tice!

The CGSO will de­ter­mine a strat­egy for con­duct­ing aware­ness and ed­u­ca­tion of the Code and con­tents thereof by in­tro­duc­tion and/or fa­cil­i­ta­tion and/or dis­tri­bu­tion of in­for­ma­tion brochures, guide­lines and work­shops, and guid­ance re­gard­ing com­pli­ance par­tic­u­larly aimed at smaller Par­tic­i­pants via work­shops, web­site, etc. Dis­claimer:

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