The Consumer Protection Act ? Do You Know Your Rights?


The Consumer Protection Act (CPA), which came into effect in April 2008, has far-reaching implications for motorists in the market for a used vehicle. But have things changed over the last five years? And do you know your rights in this regard?

"For the vast majority of us, our cars are probably the second most expensive item we own after our homes, and buying a car is an emotional experience no matter what the budget is. The CPA was brought in to protect the rights of the consumer, and knowing these rights is essential to ensure you don?t get ripped off during the purchasing decision,' says Gary Ronald, Head of Public Affairs at the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA).

The buying of second hand cars has long been associated with less than honest dealings, with the "voetstoets?, or "as is', clause used as a fail-safe term to protect the unscrupulous salesperson on any potential come- back. Well, this is no longer the case. Under the CPA an official car dealer may under no circumstances sell a vehicle "voetstoets' irrespective of whether they disclose what is wrong with the vehicle or not.

A vehicle can only be sold "voetstoets' in a private sale, but this doesn?t mean the buyer is left high and dry. "In order for a car to be sold "voetstoets?, a full list of all known car defects have to be provided. As part of the sale agreement, you, the buyer, would then have to sign and acknowledge the presence of these defects,' says Ronald.

However, if any defects are discovered within six months of the date of sale, in accordance with Chapter 2, Section 56 of the CPA, you have the right to insist on repair, replacement or refund for the vehicle.

What is clear though is that this doesn?t mean that you can return the car because it?s lost that "new car smell?; there are clear rules on when you can return your vehicle, most critical being when there?s a material defect, failure or hazard that?s not due to any alterations which you made after buying it.

"The best defence against purchasing a potential rotten apple is to arm yourself with the correct information. If you are in the market to purchase a used vehicle make sure you know your CPA rights and enforce them. Bear in mind too that there are any number of identical vehicles to choose from on the market, and, if a deal looks too good to be true - it probably is. Walk away and shop elsewhere,' concludes Ronald.

For more details about on the CPA, download a full copy of the document here. If you are currently experiencing any difficulties relating to the CPA with buying or selling a used car, you can use the following contact details:

Commissioner (Acting): Mr Ebrahim Mohamed/>

Tel: +27(0)12 940 4450/>

Physical address: Berkley Office Park/>

No 8 Bauhinia Road/>

Highveld, Centurion/>

E-mail: [email protected]/>

What do you think?
Do consumers know their rights and do South Africans pay over the odds for goods?