WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT THE CONSUMER PROTECTOR?
- Is a high level official;
- Is appointed by Member of the Executive Council responsible for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Tourism and Environmental Affairs in terms of Free State Consumer Affairs (Unfair Business Practice) Act 14 of 1998.
- Receive consumer complaints from aggrieved natural persons and any other person whom the MEC for Economic Development, declares to be a consumer against the business or juristic entities conducting alleged unfair business practice within the area of his/her jurisdiction;
- Has the power to investigate and prosecute complaints lodged in his / her office before Free State Consumer Court.
HOW DOES THE CONSUMER PROTECTOR WORK?
- Any natural person(s) whom the MEC responsible for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs declares to be a consumer can lodge a complaint with Free State Consumer Protection Office which shall refer it to Consumer Protector if necessary.
- Consumer Protector’s functions are proactive and may investigate unfair business practice not yet reported or lodged by consumer/s.
- Investigations are mostly done formally and the Consumer Protector can summon a person/s to give evidence under oath or affirmation where necessary.
WHO CAN BE INVESTIGATED BY THE CONSUMER PROTECTOR?
The Consumer Protector has the power to investigate and prosecute complaints lodged in his office before the Free State’s Consumer Affairs Court under the following conditions:
- Any natural person/s whom the MEC responsible for Economic Development declares to be a consumer cam lodge a complaint with the Free State’s Consumer Protection Office which shall refer it to Consumer Protector if necessary.
- Consumer Protector’s functions are reactive and also pro-active (may investigate unfair business practice not yet reported or lodged by the consumer/s.
- Investigations are mostly done formally and the Consumer protector cam summon a person/s to give evidence under oath or affirmation where necessary.
WHAT CAN THE CONSUMER PROTECTOR INVESTIGATE?
- Consumer Protector can investigate any business or legal entity conducting business for the purpose of gain directly / indirectly and this includes Sole Proprietor, Partnership, Close Corporations, Companies, Government Entities and Agencies.
HOW DOES ONE COMPLAIN TO THE CONSUMER PROTECTOR?
- Should your complaint relate to unfair business practice, you should complete a complaint form available from Consumer Protection Office of the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs and which shall be dealt with by the Trade and Industry Advisors and Trade Inspectors in the manner appropriate.
- Completed complaint forms must be signed by the complainant.
- The Trade and Industry Advisors would refer the complaint to the Consumer Protector, provided mediation avenues and proceedings have failed.
WHAT INFORMATION AND DOCUMENTS MUST BE SUBMITTED WITH THE COMPLAINT FORM?
- Full statement and nature of your complaint;
- Proof of business transactions such as an invoice, contract, etc;
- Steps you have taken to solve the problem for yourself if any;
- Copies of any correspondence between you and business concerned;
- Names and capacities of the officials/officers you have been dealing with.
- Your contact details.
- Copy of your RSA identity document.
WILL ANYONE ELSE HEAR ABOUT YOUR COMPLAINT?
The Consumer Protector and Staff of Free State Consumer Protection Office will keep and treat your complaint confidential at all costs necessary, and if at all possible.
WHAT THE CONSUMER PROTECTOR CANNOT OR WILL NOT INVESTIGATE?
- Judgements pronounced by the High Courts, Magistrates Courts, Small Claims Courts;
- Any criminally inclined matter;
- Labour, judicial, matrimonial, customary matters and the likes;
- Any consumer related issue older than three (3) years and more.
ARE CONSUMER COURT DECISION / JUDGEMENTS ENFORCEABLE?
After the Order has been pronounced in favour of complainant, the Consumer Protector shall invoke and apply the provisions of section 300 of Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 in Magistrate Court having jurisdiction for the order of Consumer Court to be the order of such judicial court.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO GET HELP FROM THE CONSUMER PROTECTOR?
- Nothing, services are free and available to anyone who has a problem as set out above.
- You are at liberty to consult the Consumer Protector in person provided prior necessary arrangements were done.
- It is advisable to write or phone his/her office for an appointment.
The office of the Consumer Protector of Free State is situated in Bloemfontein and shall rotate in all districts in the Province, namely Motheo (Bloemfontein), Lejweleputswa (Welkom), Xhariep (Trompsburg), Fezile Dabi (Sasolburg) and Thabo Mofutsanyane (Phuthaditjhaba).
The Consumer Protector
98 Zastron Street
5th Floor, Agricultural/Landbousentrum Gebou
The Consumer Protector
P. O. Box 6590
Tel: 051- 400 4852/3/4/5/6/7
Fax: 051- 400 9610