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You Break It, You Buy It. What does the Consumer Protection Act has to say?

Jan 22nd 2014, 08:24

You Break It, You Buy It. What does the Consumer Protection Act has to say?

Compiled by The office of the Credit Ombud and The Consumer Goods & Services Ombud

Many consumers come across those notices in some shops declaring their obligation to pay for items they break or damage while shopping in a store. Notices stating: You Break It, You Buy It or You Damage It, Consider It Sold are familiar to most shoppers.

“The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) takes precedence over any store policy and consumers should enforce their rights when it comes to returning or exchanging defective goods,” says Consumer Goods and Services Ombud, advocate Neville Melville. “Consumers should not allow stores to bully them when it comes to returning or exchanging defective goods or those with poor workmanship,” he adds.

Not only do consumers have a right to return any items they purchase which have material defects, but they are also entitled to choose the form of redress. Other than the automatic six (6) month warranty that all store purchased goods carry, the CPA also provides for a 3-R’ rule – the right to return, refund or replacement (of defective products) - within 6 months of purchasing the goods.

“Stores will often inform consumers that the defective goods have to be returned in order to be sent away for repairs, rather than exchanging it or paying a refund. Consumers... don’t have to follow what the store wants to do in such circumstances; they have the choice as to which remedy (return, refund or replace) they would prefer when it comes to defective goods,” continues Melville. “The only exception is if the defect is insignificant or the consumer caused the damage,” he adds.

Another common problem occurs when the defective goods have been purchased on credit. Aggrieved consumers will sometimes show their dissatisfaction by not paying their accounts when disputes arise with the store because of these defective goods. This is the worst approach a consumer can have as it could give rise to a breach of their obligations under the credit agreement.

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