The purpose of the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (CPA), is to promote and protect the economic interests of consumers. The CPA clearly stipulates that suppliers have the responsibility towards consumers to return any removed and or replaced parts and materials that are the property of the consumer.
Section 67 of the CPA specifies that if a supplier is authorised to perform any service to any goods or property of a consumer, the supplier must retain the parts removed and or replaced in the course of any repair or maintenance work. Furthermore, they have to keep the parts removed or replaced separate from other goods or property and return the said parts or materials to the consumer in a reasonably clean container.
This means that if a consumer gives a supplier instruction to repair or replace any parts or materials of any of his or her goods or property, whether it is a motor vehicle, appliance and or furniture, the supplier must return those parts or materials that was replaced in a clean container, box or bag.
The reason behind this is clearly that the parts or materials replaced or removed is still the property of the consumer and the consumer has the right to decide whether he or she wants to keep it or dispose of it. This is why it is very important for a supplier to clearly get instruction from the consumer prior the rendering of service whether the consumer would like to have the parts or materials that are replaced or removed or not. If the consumer is not given the opportunity to make a decision in this regard, the supplier can be held liable afterward for any loss of property.
Sub Section (2) of Section 67 of the CPA specifies reasons when the parts or materials are not required to be returned to the consumer:
- If the parts or materials were removed or replaced under a warranty claim, the parts or materials must be disposed at the directions of the producer or the distributor of the warranty policy.
- The supplier is not obligated to return the parts or materials to the consumer if it was replaced or removed under an insurance claim. In this occurrence, the parts or materials must be disposed at the direction of the insurer.
- If it is required by law to dispose of the said parts or materials in a certain way or manner that is safe with regards to environmental safety or public health and safety.
Thus, a consumer can in circumstances receive their replaced parts or materials back or not which are related to conditions present. The golden rule to act upon is to be informed and to ask if one is not sure in terms of events.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Altus de Wet is a SEESA Consumer Protection and POPI Legal Advisor at the Bloemfontein Office