Last updated on Jan 14th, 2021 at 12:00 pm

The Consumer Protection Act, promotes a fair and sustainable marketplace for consumer products and services which affords consumers a whole array of protection and remedies.

But while this Act has been around since 2011, many consumers donâ??t fully grasp their power as paying customers.

The Consumer Protection Act outlines key consumer rights:

  • The Right to Equality in the Consumer Market place

  • The Right to Privacy

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  • The Right to Choose

  • The Right to Disclosure of Information

  • The Right to Fair and Honest Dealing

  • The Right to Fair, Just and Reasonable Terms and Conditions

  • The Right to Fair Value

  • The Right to Good Quality and Safety, and

  • The Right to Accountability by Suppliers

At All4Women, we decided to put at least two of these rights to the test and see how retailers fare.

The right to disclosure of information, protecting your right to information in plain and understandable language, product labelling and trade description. Your right to fair value, good quality and safety, which protects your right to demand quality service as well as having products monitored for safety.

We posed the following question to four retailersâ?? customer care departments online, namely Woolworths, Pick n Pay, Shoprite and Spar

â??Hi there

I would be most grateful if you could help me with a query. Some, most, all fresh milk containers these days list sugar among the ingredients. Please can you advise me, in terms of the fresh milk sold by your branches, does this refer to added sugar or “sugars” naturally contained in cowâ??s milk? â?

Pick n Pay responded within the hour, saying that my query has been forwarded to the relevant person. Two hours later the answer came, letting me know that It refers to natural sugar present in milk, called lactose.

(This was by far the best answer received to my query. Lactose of course is the type of sugar that occurs naturally in milk and is made up of two different sugar molecules namely glucose and galactose.)

Spar responded the following afternoon, saying: “Thank you for taking the time to email us and for visiting our Spar website. The sugar is naturally contained in the cows milk.”

One week later, Woolworths responded apologising for the tardy response, saying they have forwarded my query to the relevant department. Ten days later, I’m still awaiting their response.

Three weeks later and Shoprite has neither acknowledged receipt of my email or answered my query.

In a financial climate, where we have to make every penny count, is it acceptable for retailers, to disregard the voice and concerns of the consumer?

Surely it costs much less to keep an existing customer, than to win a new customer?

Unfortunately many South Africans do not bother to complain to the retailers concerned and would rather talk to friends and family or take their complaint to social media platforms.

If you feel your consumer rights have been violated or ignored, you can contact the National Consumer Forum – an umbrella body for consumer organisations at www.consumerfair.co.za