The Consumer Protection Act
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.
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.
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. >