As per Section 56 of the Consumer Protection Act 2011 (CPA), a consumer, as defined in the CPA, has the right to a refund, repair or replacement of goods. This is only up to a certain point. This right may only be exercised within 6 months of the date of the transaction and if the goods are of inferior quality, unsafe or defective.
What can be done in the event of a vehicle break-down within 6 months of purchase?
In terms of the CPA, a consumer’s first step in resolution is to attempt to resolve the matter internally. This may be done by approaching the supplier and informing them of the break-down. In the event of requesting repair or refund, the goods must be returned in the same condition. Should the supplier deny any responsibility, the consumer may then follow the route as per Section 70 of the CPA.
In the event of the consumer opting to take the vehicle to a third party for repair, and then approaching the supplier for reimbursement, it is the supplier’s right to refuse it. This because the supplier was not afforded the opportunity to examine the vehicle or to assess the damages. The consumer will lose its right to claim damages in terms of Section 56 of the CPA. This was confirmed by the National Consumer Tribunal (the Tribunal) in Hennig v South Cape Auto (Pty) Ltd t/a Hyundai (NCT/94740/2017/75(1)(b)) 2018 ZANCT 66. The Tribunal held the following in this matter:
“…the Respondent failed to approach the Applicant within the warranty period but opted to take the vehicle to another dealer for repairs. As a result, the value chain was broken and the particular relief provided for in the CPA became irrelevant:
- The vehicle already got repaired and therefore the Respondent cannot repair the vehicle again;
- The goods cannot be replaced because it is not in the same condition as it was bought;
- The consumer cannot be refunded the price paid by the consumer since the goods are not the same anymore…”
The Presiding Member also stated that “the failure to provide the Respondent with an opportunity during the first 6 months of the purchase to rectify any alleged defect in the goods purchased or to consider refunding the goods on the return by the Applicant, amounted to the forfeiting of relief in terms of Section 56 of the CPA”
It is for this reason why a supplier must be in the possession of a complaints policy which clearly sets out the above.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Yolande Iversen obtained her LLB Law Degree from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 2011. She embarked on her journey at SEESA Labour in August of 2011 as a Legal Assistant. She was promoted to the position of SEESA Labour Legal Advisor in 2014. In September 2017 she was selected to also be part of the SEESA Consumer Protection & POPI team at our Port Elizabeth office.