The Consumer Protection Act does not contain a provision for information to be in an official language. However, it does require information to be in plain and understandable language. The CPA also requires that the language for goods or services be appropriate to the target group.
The Consumer Protection Act deals with marketing by promoting marketing standards, restricting unwanted marketing and prohibiting discriminatory marketing. Marketing efforts must be factual and accurate and may not mislead the Consumer in any way. This includes information distributed by third parties engaged in business. These standards are applied to a broad based of “unconscionable” marketing, and require a range of marketing techniques to fully disclose validity, availability and limitations. The CPA also enables pre-emptive blocking of email, phone or printed direct marketing.
The Consumer Protection Act provides a five business day cooling-off period for transactions that come from direct marketing i.e. transactions not initiated by the Consumer, but includes both verbal and written agreements. The five business day period will commence after the day on which the transaction or agreement was concluded, or the day on which the goods or services were delivered to the Consumer. The Consumer has the right to cancel without reason or penalty, by notice to the supplier in writing, or another recorded manner and form. This applies to bookings and reservations, but the Consumer may be liable for a “reasonable charge”.
The Consumer Protection Act regulates the term, renewal and cancellation of fixed-term contracts. The Act prevents the automatic renewal of a fixed term contract, the Consumer has the responsibility to terminate or renew the contract. If the Consumer fails to renew or terminate, the contract will continue on a month on month basis on the new terms as notified by the supplier. Consumers can also cancel a contract before the term by providing a 20 day notice, but will be liable for “a reasonable cancellation penalty”.
Overselling and Overbooking
The CPA provides for the “reasonableness” test for overselling and overbooking. A supplier may not accept payment for goods or services if it has no reasonable intention to supply the goods or services, or if it intends to supply goods or services that are materially different to those the Consumer has paid for. The supplier can be penalised if they fail to deliver goods, services or reservations for which they have accepted payment. However, the supplier will not be penalised if similar goods or services are offered, or if circumstances beyond the suppliers control lead to the breach and the supplier took reasonable steps to inform the Consumer.
Implied Warranty of Quality
The Consumer Protection Act provides for an implied warranty of quality. In terms of this warranty the producer/importer, distributor and retailer each warrant that the goods comply with the requirements and standards outlined in the CPA. Failed, unsafe or defective goods may be returned to the supplier within six months after the delivery of the goods to a Consumer. The Consumer has the choice to be refunded, or have the goods replaced or repaired.
Prepaid Certificates, Credits and Vouchers
The Consumer Protection Act states that gift or similar vouchers expire either upon redemption or after three years, which prevents vouchers under the CPA from expiring within a couple of months of issue, and before Consumer has the opportunity to use them. In addition, the CPA provides that Consumer payment for prepaid vouchers are the property of the bearer until such time and to the extent that the voucher is redeemed.