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salesman trust

Goodwill is essential for any business and good service is paramount to keeping your customers.

As Jerry Flanagan said:

“ Customers are like teeth. If you do not look after them, they go away one by one until there are none left.”

It is a pity that so many service providers do not give sufficient attention to their service delivery.

You get a real shock when you find out that an item that you just purchased is not working as it should or is defective and you paid a great deal of money for it.

Prior to 2011, there was not much that you could do except rely on the goodwill of the supplier and request a replacement or a refund. The reason for this is that in those days you would have to prove that the item was defective at the time you bought it and that was not something that was that easy to prove as the supplier would argue that it became defective after you bought it and there was nothing wrong with the item at the time of the sale. If there was you would or should have noticed it; they will say.

That is now no longer the case; since the 1st April 2011.

You now have a statutory implied warranty of quality in terms of section 55 of The Consumer Protection Act No 68 of 2008:

You also have a period of six months from the date of the sale to claim in terms of Section 56 (2):

Section 56 (2) of the Consumer Protection Act, No 68 of 2008 reads as follows:

“Within six months after the delivery of any goods to a consumer, the consumer may return the goods to the supplier, without penalty, and at the supplier’s risk and expense, if the goods fail to satisfy the requirements and standards contemplated in section 55 (Consumers rights to safe, good quality goods) and the supplier must, at the direction of the consumer, either:

  1. Repair or replace the failed, unsafe or defective goods, or
  2. Refund to the consumer the price paid by the consumer for the goods.”

That seems pretty straightforward; and to a very large extent self-explanatory.

Why then do so many suppliers duck and dive; and attempt to avoid their legal obligations to the consumer and their customers. The answer to this question is that it is a nuisance to a supplier and they need to take time out; and incur cost; in repairing, replacing or refunding a consumer for an item that they have already sold to them. Things were far too comfortable for suppliers before the advent of the Consumer Protection Act as they, in the past, would simply tell us that it was not their problem once we had taken delivery of an item and paid for it.

One has to remember that the provisions of this Act and these sections do not cover private individuals as sellers; as they are not suppliers or service providers conducting their sale in the ordinary course of business. In short the act does not cover private sales. Your remedies in the case of private sales lie in the common law of contract.

One has to look at the definition of “a consumer” and “a supplier; in order to get confirmation that private sales are not covered by these provisions of the Consumer Protection Act.”

Section 1 is the definition section of the Consumer Protection Act No 68 of 2008.

In section 1; “a consumer’ is defined in great detail. It will suffice for our purposes here to simply quote from part of the full definition: “A consumer means a person to whom those particular goods or services are marketed in the ordinary course of the supplier’s business.” The section then goes on to give a more comprehensive detailed definition which it is not necessary to dissect here but the definition of a consumer is very wide and includes just about anyone buying an item from someone else who is conducting a business enterprise in selling amongst other things that particular item/items.

One also has to look at the definition of “a supplier” for clarity here.

Section 1 also defines “a supplier” which means: “A person who markets any goods or services.”

This is also a very wide definition.

As a consequence, the Consumer Protection Act covers both goods and services provided by a supplier to a consumer.

It does not apply to private sales as although all buyers are consumers as defined in the Act; the sellers however are not suppliers; as they do not sell their items in the ordinary course of a business enterprise; but only occasionally on a once off basis. Clearly there may be exceptions to this rule; eg someone who is not a dealer but runs a business selling second hand cars in his spare time. He may well then be a supplier as defined in the Act although not a registered car dealer.

The Consumer Protection Act applies to all unsafe, damaged and defective goods; provided they are bought from a supplier acting in the ordinary course of his business.

As a consumer of both goods and services our section 56(2) choice, as consumers, of “repair, refund or replace” in respect of damaged or defective goods is in addition to; and over and above the manufacturer’s warranty; and also in addition to, and over and above, any common law remedies that we may have; for example; where latent defects were deliberately not disclosed to us by a supplier.

You, as a consumer could very well then have three separate potential claims available to you in a dispute with a supplier. These claims could be in terms of the CP Act, a common law remedy and/or in terms of a manufacturer’s warranty; provided that that dispute relates to unsafe, damaged or defective goods or services.

About our author:

Hugh Pollard (Legal Consultant), has a BA LLB and 41 years’ experience in the legal field. 22 years as a practicing attorney and conveyancer; and 19 years as a Legal Consultant.

082-0932304 (Hugh’s Cell Number)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.legaladviceoffice.co.za

Thank you.

The Legal Advice Office Team.

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