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Consumer protection – return of goods

Rights on returning goods

There are various circumstances in which a buyer can return goods purchased and there are also various time limits and conditions applying. Save this post to recall later if you’re unhappy with something you have bought. The Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 is intended to provide this protection by law.

1. Right to safe, good quality goods

Generally all goods bought have an implied guarantee of quality and in terms of the Consumer Protection Act Section 56 (read with Section 55) you are entitled to safe good quality goods purchased that are reasonably suitable for the purposes intended, are in good working condition and free of defects, and will be usable and durable for a reasonable period of time. If the standard of the goods are regulated elsewhere, the goods also need to meet those standards. Exceptions are goods bought on auction which are not subject to this return provision. A supplier cannot give you a contract that says anything to the contrary – he is bound by the same stipulations of the act.

2. Goods not meeting specified purpose

If, when purchasing goods, you tell the supplier the specific purpose for which you are needing the goods, and once you have bought them, find that they don’t serve this purpose, you can return them at the expense of the supplier and without penalty and provided you do so within 10 days of purchase. This is in terms of Section 55 (3) of the Act read with Section 20. The provisions do not apply if you sell something that is defective and notify the buyer of the defect at the time of purchase and the buyer specifically buys the goods in that condition.

3. Cooling off period

Goods bought after direct marketing can be returned at the buyer’s expense within 5 days of purchase or delivery (whichever later) in terms of Section 20 (2) read with section 16. Also if goods have not been seen before delivery (eg online purchases) and on delivery you notice that they are not of the type or quality as contemplated at time of purchase, you can reject the delivery and return the goods.

4. Cancellation of advance reservation, booking or order

Section 17 allows these to be cancelled and a refund obtained subject generally to a reasonable penalty being levied but taking into account the notice period before the booking/reservation date as well as the likelyhood that the supplier will replace the booking with another. No penalty or fee is chargeable due to the death or hospitalisation of the booker or the person for whom the booking was made.

Whilst many larger stores these days offer a free return and credit or refund if you CHANGE YOUR MIND after purchasing goods, they are not obliged to do so unless the conditions set out in 1 – 4 above apply.

A copy of the Consumer Protection Act is available on our Facebook group, and you need to read more comprehensively the terms and conditions applying as referred to above if you have a return or refund claim.

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