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Managing defective goods under the CPA

Feb 19th 2014, 08:23

Managing defective goods under the CPA

Compiled by The office of The Consumer Goods & Services Ombud

Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman, Advocate Neville Melville says the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) has ushered in a new era of consumer-centricity and imposes a built-in or automatic warranty (commonly known as a guarantee) on all goods sold.

“Under the CPA, goods must be reasonably suitable for the purposes for which they are intended, and must be of good quality, in good working order and free of any defects,” he explains. “They must also be useable and durable for a reasonable period of time.”

Melville says the CPA brings about a drastic change to the South African law because it includes the requirement that goods must be useable and durable for a reasonable period of time, embodying a new right not recognised under the common law.

“For the first time in South African law, the consumer has a right to continued good quality,” says Melville. “In the case of something like a television, fridge or a car, this might mean it should last for a number of years.”

If the goods a consumer has bought fail to comply with any of these requirements within six months of being delivered, he or she is entitled to return them, and ask for one of the three R’s: to have the item Repaired, Replaced or to get a full Refund of the price paid. It is not clear from the CPA what the remedies are if goods are not durable beyond six months. This is something that will need to be clarified by the National Consumer Tribunal or the courts.

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