The Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act

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Make dou­ble sure be­fore you buy

The CPA aims to pro­tect con­sumers’ in­ter­ests. So if you buy a car­a­van or trailer that’s not up to code, you can go back to the seller. If you buy a new one, it should be straight­for­ward, but buy­ing sec­ond hand means walk­ing through a mine­field.

IT’S A DONE DEAL

Ac­cord­ing to the law, a con­tract be­tween two par­ties can be cre­ated in writ­ing or ver­bally. An elec­tronic sig­na­ture is also ac­cepted. If the seller sends you a con­tract via email and you agree to the terms in your re­ply, it’s con­sid­ered bind­ing. It is ad­vis­able to have phys­i­cal proof of the con­tract.

YOU NEED IT ALL: A TO Z

Be­fore you sign any­thing, make sure that the con­tract ad­heres to the re­quire­ments of the law. If not, it could be de­clared null and void and both par­ties would have to re­turn what­ever they gained through the agree­ment. The party that trans­gressed the law will also be li­able for any dam­ages caused to the other party by the trans­gres­sion.

NO LEGALESE, THANKS

The con­tract must be writ­ten in sim­ple lan­guage that is easy to un­der­stand.

TELL ME EV­ERY­THING

The seller must dis­close any re­pairs made to the car­a­van be­cause of the CPA’S full dis­clo­sure clause. Sellers even need to spec­ify parts that were checked dur­ing a nor­mal ser­vice, even if it turns out they didn’t need re­pair­ing or re­plac­ing.

THE WHOLE TRUTH

Sellers may not fal­sify any info in­flu­enc­ing the deal and must act in good faith.

BLACK ON WHITE

It is al­ways safer if the seller puts ev­ery­thing he ex­plained to you about the car­a­van and the trans­ac­tion in writ­ing. This way, he can prove that he made you aware of it.

BE REA­SON­ABLE

You can’t draw up a pur­chase agree­ment that con­tains un­rea­son­able terms and con­di­tions. For ex­am­ple, the seller may not cre­ate a clause that aims to un­der­mine the law.

BUT IT’S NOT MY FAULT!

The seller can­not in­clude clauses that pro­tects him against rea­son­able risks as­so­ci­ated with the con­tract. If you buy an off-road trailer, for ex­am­ple, the seller can’t stip­u­late that he wont be li­able if a door falls off its hinges on a rough road a week af­ter you bought it.

HOLD ON, NOW

The seller may not un­duly in­flu­ence a po­ten­tial buyer. State­ments like “this is a real bar­gain” are taboo.

IT’S YOUR GOOD RIGHT

Ac­cord­ing to the CPA, the buyer has the right to pur­chase qual­ity prod­ucts with high safety stan­dards. If there is any­thing wrong with the prod­uct, the buyer needs to know about it be­fore the pur­chase. If he finds a de­fect af­ter the trans­ac­tion that wasn’t dis­closed be­fore the pur­chase, he has six months af­ter the trans­ac­tion date to ad­dress the is­sue. If you de­cide to re­turn the car­a­van be­cause of such a fault, the seller can­not charge you a levy for re­turn­ing it. He needs to fix the de­fect or re­turn your money. In cases where the seller fixes the de­fect and you de­cide to keep the car­a­van, you have a fur­ther three months to make sure the re­pairs last.

VOETSTOOTS IS A FAIRY­TALE

In the old days, a per­son could sell a car­a­van ‘as is’, mean­ing that the buyer would ac­cept it the way it was, de­fects and all. How­ever, the full dis­clo­sure clause nul­li­fies the con­cept of voetstoots. The buyer has six months to re­turn it to the seller with any prob­lems he didn’t know about at the time of pur­chase.

GUILTY, YOUR HON­OUR

If the deal goes sour and the seller is found guilty of trans­gress­ing the CPA, a fine of up to R1 mil­lion or 10% of the an­nual turnover of the busi­ness can be im­posed.

TEAM­WORK

The CPA doesn’t re­place nor­mal war­ranties from man­u­fac­tur­ers. The law and guar­an­tees are in force, un­til they ex­pire.

ME, YOU, THE NEIGH­BOUR TOO?

The CPA af­fects trans­ac­tions be­tween a busi­ness and a con­sumer, for ex­am­ple when you buy a car­a­van from a dealer, or when they ser­vice it. But the act is still very new. It hasn’t been ruled out that your neigh­bour might face the wrath of the law if he sells you a faulty car­a­van pri­vately. In this sense, the law is still open for in­ter­pre­ta­tion. It sim­ply states that where you as buyer are part of the trans­ac­tion, the party from who you are buy­ing the prod­uct or ser­vice is con­sid­ered to be the sup­plier, and thus in­cluded un­der the law. >

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