The Consumers Protection Act is designed to protect the consumer from dishonest and dodgy dealers. This can be a huge advantage for both your personal and business interests.
The CPA protects against false advertising and the selling of damaged goods. It is not uncommon in business for manufactures or distributors to shift bad products on to you. Often if this is done when your business takes huge volume of orders because its easy for bad products to be hidden in huge orders. In terms of section 16, 20 and 19 of the Act you can demand to have damaged products replaced or returned, provided that you do so within in the time frame specified within the Act. You also by law are able to return products if they do not serve the purpose in which they were advertised to serve. For example lets say company Y sells you product A, which they tell you can be used for digging. Then you buy that product for your construction company and come to find that it is completely useless for digging. You would have the legal right to return this product in terms of section 55 of the CPA.
What happens if they said no returns, “buy it as is”? In legal terms this is called a voetstoets clause. The purpose of a voetstoet clause is to protect the seller, however if a seller knowingly sells you damaged product then the voetstoet clause cannot be used as a legal defence, which means that you are entitled to a refund or some means of compensation. Also the CPA provides and automatic guaranty that the products comply with the following requirements
the products must be :
safe, of good quality, in good working order and free from any defects;
reasonably suitable for the purpose for which they are generally intended; and will be useable and durable for a reasonable period of time, having regard to the use they would normally be put to.
Should purchased goods fail to meet the requirements as set out above within six months after the purchase or delivery of such goods, you have the right to return them and insist on one of the following remedies provided for by the Act.
What if the company I am dealing with is not based in South Africa? In the instance that you are doing business with a company not based in South Africa you should make it your priority to ensure that the business has a return policy in place. Also do not purchase products from websites that are not credible. If your not sure whether or not a website is reliable you can check on review websites like HelloPeter.
Hopefully you will never have to experience bad business practices by unprofessional ( and occasionally professional) companies, but in the case that you do you will be well prepared. In most cases you do not actually need legal representation ( a lawyer) to rectify any wrongful acts. It will be to your benefit you know in terms of the law your legal position and most importantly voice it, even if you not well versed on the law. I find that the biggest problem is not that people are unaware of the relevant law that could protect their business or personal transactions, but instead are too hesitant to address the problems when they arise. If you are swindled always contact the seller immediately and always keep records (receipts, contracts) of all the transactions between you and the seller.