The Consumer Protection Act; Your rights to return damaged Goods:

We get a number of enquiries every single week from clients about whether, when and how they can go about returning faulty or damages goods. It is really disturbing to realise how many suppliers, big and small, continue to ignore the basics of consumer protection.

Despite the fact that the Consumer Protection Act came into force on the 1st April 2011; which is more than two years ago now, many businesses and service providers continue to operate outside the legislation and some do so blatantly and knowingly very often duping their customers at the same time so as to save themselves a great deal of money and effort. Some actions reported to us border on criminal fraud.

There are also other consumer complaints from our clients including unreasonable terms and conditions in contracts and dodgy forms and even attempts to get them to sign indemnity forms. We find however that the biggest problem is the service provider’s failure to comply with the returns policy and provisions of the Act.

It is therefore a worthwhile exercise to recap on this subject as it is clear that most consumers are unsure of their rights to return goods whether they are broken, damaged, faulty or not.

The rules are as follows: Consumers have the right to return to the supplier/service provider faulty, damaged or poor quality goods within six (6) months of the date of purchase. It is your right and your choice. It is not up to the dealer!

A supplier can insist on having the goods examined and this may take a week or two; if the item is sent off site by them for the examination and to determine the cause of the damage. It is important to note that if a consumer damages an item; whether it is deliberate, negligently or even by accident, the supplier is under NO obligation to assist; but the supplier must be able to prove the damage is and was caused by the consumer.

Recently one of our clients returned a Plasma screen TV to the supplier as it was faulty. It was sent away to be repaired by the supplier and then returned to him. It was still faulty. He took it back to them and again they sent it away. They then alleged that the damage was due to “abuse.” We took the matter up on his behalf; and argued that they should then have said so when it was returned to him the first time except that he was told it was faulty then; and had been repaired. It had then been in their possession the whole time and they could not prove that he had abused the TV as it was not even in his possession. Simple answer: They took a chance! They tried to pass the buck to him and avoid having to replace the item or refund him his money! We did a letter of demand and they refunded him in full. Lesson: Do not allow a supplier to hoodwink you and deprive you of your consumer rights.

If the item upon examination is found to be defective, the customer/consumer has the right to a full refund of the purchase price, or a replacement item or can ask for the item to be repaired at the supplier’s expense. This is your choice. Not the dealer’s or supplier’s; and this is very important.

Suppliers often try to talk you into simply agreeing to them repairing the item as that is their cheapest option, and make out as if they are doing you a huge favour. Do not be duped! It is your choice and your right! All those suppliers that insist on a repair of the item instead of offering you the choice of a refund or a replacement as well as a repair are breaking the law. Those suppliers that also insist on providing you with a credit voucher; instead of your requested cash refund are also breaking the law.

Because retailers and suppliers have both the right and may ask you for proof of your purchase before attending to your complaint; it is clearly advisable holding on to your receipts and invoices for at least six months after purchasing items at any supplier; as they would be fully justified in turning you away ;if you were unable to prove that you had bought the item from their store in the first place.

Should you otherwise wish to comment on this or any other legal topic; just send us an e-mail; and we will respond.

Thank you.

The Legal Advice Office Team.

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38 Responses to The Consumer Protection Act; Your rights to return damaged Goods:

  1. Ryan Park says:

    I have a problem with BT Games at Canal Walk Cape Town, I purchased a xbox remote control and it doesn’t seem to function. I have been refused a refund. I have also been told that unless the item is damaged I will NOT receive a refund.

    What can I DO? Please help!

    • Hugh says:

      You have the right and the choice in these circumstances to:
      1. A Repair; or
      2. A Refund; or
      3, A Replacement.
      This right and choice arises from the CP Act.
      We can assist you with this process.
      It will require that we send a formal statutory letter to the dealer advising them of your right and your choice and demanding that they fulfil their legal obligation to you.
      The cost of this process is R 1700.00 which you will have to pay to the credit of our bank account before we start.
      This sum however can be reclaimed from the dealer in terms of the statutory letter.
      Please advise as to whether you require our assistance or not.
      We trust you find this in order.
      Thank you.

  2. Leia says:

    I keep receiving the same broken mirrored coffee table from Overstock. It costs me money to pay the city to haul all these broken tables away. I read the following above:

    “If the item upon examination is found to be defective, the customer/consumer has the right to…a replacement item or can ask for the item to be repaired at the supplier’s expense. This is your choice. Not the dealer’s or supplier’s; and this is very important.”

    Is this true? Because Overstock is telling me that they won’t change the shipper, and the repair is based on a quote I get locally. Mark, the supervisor, said they will only repair if they are ok with the cost of repairing the item, otherwise they will refuse repair. He ball parked the repair at $50 for approval, which would never be the price where I live. They said that they will eventually refund me if the replacement shipments come broken (even though they won’t change the shipping company). This doesn’t seem like I have any rights to choose. It appears my only option is replacement until it drags out and they end up refunding me. Is this a violation of the Consumer Protection Act, as they won’t actually change anything and leave me no choice for repair?

    • Hugh says:

      Dear WordPress writer,
      I am afraid that the Consumer Protection Act only has effect in the RSA.
      It would therefore not assist you in these circumstances as it is confined to South Africa and is not applicable outside the RSA.
      We trust you find this in order.
      Thank you.

  3. Van says:

    I have purchased a Galaxy Gear Watch from the Samsung store.
    It is not what was advertised or what i expected.
    I have returned the watch and now all they want to give me is a credit note. I do not want to purchase anything else…i want my money back.
    What rights do i have?

    • Van,
      You do not have to take a credit note.
      In terms of the Consumer protection Act you are entitled to a full refund.
      We trust you find this in order.
      Thank you.


      The Legal Advice Office
      021- 8527794/082-0932304.

  4. M Jacobs says:

    Hi I bought a waterproof camera on Dec 21 Dec 2013 from Digital Eye in Canal Walk ,took it back on Dec 26 Dec 2013 as it was not working. After almost 20 days after myself following up they want to give me credit note cause that camera is discontinued. They don’t do cash refunds.Please Advise what are my rights. I feel they should replace me with another waterproof camera regardless of cost as its not my fault if that camera has been discontinued. Please Advise.

    • They have to refund you.
      They are not entitled to just offer you a credit note.
      Section 56(2) of the Consumer protection Act No 68 of 2008 states that in these circumstances are entitled to a full refund.
      That is the law.
      We trust you find this in order.
      Thank you.

  5. Riccardo Moretti says:

    I purchased a HDMI cable from Musica R149, which did not work on my computer.
    I returned the cable the same day and asked for a refund, the sales person reluctantly gave me a refund, he told me that cable was for a playstation only (I did argue with him as HDMI is not product specific),
    I then purchased a cheaper HDMI cable (R89)from game which worked perfectly,
    Was I correct in insisting on a refund?

  6. Sihle says:


    I recently bought a bakkie from a dealer and it has proven to be not what i was promised. the light didn’t work and the key didn’t unlock the door. the airon and hooter didn’t work and the brakes are faulty. i contacted the dealer and they said i should fix the lights and key and then send them the invoices for a refund. i have done that and now they refuse to refund me. can i take the car back for a total refund of what i bought the car for? i cannot keep paying for things to get fixed on that car.

    • Sihle,
      If the vehicle was defective on the date of sale; you have the choice of repair, refund or replacement; provided you act and we do an intervention within a period of 6 months from the date of sale.
      We trust you find this in order.
      Thank you.

      The Legal Advice Office

  7. rofhiwa says:

    I bought sumsung Tab 3 and I have returned it 4 times already it constantly give me the same problem, I went to the store and they said they can not cancel my contract and the best thing they can do is to fix it, my contract is less than 3 months and I have not spent more than 2 weeks with my Tab because it constantly gives me problem, they have been fixing it and still doesnt work as it should and it still give me the same problem.

    do they have a right to force me not to cancel my contract?

    • Rofiwa,
      On those facts you have the choice as the consumer to ask for either a refund, a replacement or a repair at the service provider’s expense.
      We could do an intervention for you but it will cost you R 2000.00.
      Do you want to do this or will you try and speak to them yourself?
      Thank you.

      The Legal Advice Office

  8. arif mohd says:

    dear sir/mam,
    i have purchased a air conditioner, when the brand engineer installation they said us this ac is out of order(indoor part). we complaint this to supplier or brand and till now they not replace the same.
    please help me in this regards.

    thnaks and regards

    • Arif,
      If the ac was defective at the time of the sale and it is still within 6 months of the date of sale; you have the choice or repair, replace or refund at the dealers expense.
      We trust you find this in order.
      Thank you.

      The Legal Advice Office

  9. Maxie Matthews says:

    I would just like to know if you have any rights after the 6months return policy has passed. I bought a slow cooker at HomeChoice last year when I took the item out of the box for inspection after the delivery I found that it has been damaged,a huge dent in the pot.I contacted homechoice and was told that I will have to return the pot and pay the postage fees as they do not collect.I have no transport and work shifts and cannot walk by foot to my nearest post office with a heavy pot. To date I’m still stuck with a pot that has been fully paid for but I never had the pleasure of using due to it being damaged on delivery.HomeChoice now tells me my 6months have past there’s nothing they can do eventhough the item is still in original packaging and never been used due to damage. I believe damage must have occured with either the packaging or handling of goods at their warehouse or where ever as only the pot has a dent in the box is not damaged .What are my rights regarding such a matter or do I have none.

    • Maxie,
      If the 6 months period has expired; you no longer have the protection of the CPA; but you have common law rights which are more complicated and depend on a number of factors if you are able to enforce them.
      On those facts; you would have rights but it will cost money ( R 2500.00) to involve us in an intervention.
      Please revert should you still want our help.
      Thank you.

      Kind regards,

      The Legal Advice Office

  10. Lisel says:

    Hi there, I bought a fridge/freezer at Makro. Tomorrow it’ll be a week, but there are frozen droplets in the fridge section that I’m not happy with. I called them earlier this week and asked them what the issue was, but they just told me turn up the temperature. Still no change. The fridge I bought was in fact the last unit on the floor and I’m not happy with it at all. I want to take back and get a refund. Will I be able to do so? Thanks. Lisel

    • Lisel,
      You still have the protection of the CPA.
      If the fridge was defective when you bought it or became defective you have the choice of repair, replace or refund at the service provider’s expense.
      This is however a formal legal process and you would have to instruct us to do an intervention which will take a week and cost R 3000.00 and this sum would have to be paid to the credit of our bank account before we start that process for you.
      This amount may be reclaimed from the Makro.
      Please revert should you want our help and we will then need all the details of the fridge, yourself and Makro.
      We trust you find this in order.
      Thank you.

      Kind regards,

      The Legal Advice Office

  11. André says:

    Good day. I purchased a camera for work from a recognised retailer. When I used the camera for the first time 4 days later I realised that there were a sensor problem on the camera. I could not get hold of the retailer telephonically so I sent them an email on the day informing them the camera was faulty out the box. I had no reply. The camera picked uo a light scratch on the screen on that first day, however it could not be used for the intended purpose. Now the company insists that they can only send it for repairs and that I am not eligible for a refund or replacement. Do I have a case at all?

    • Andre,
      Yes you do have a right to return it; but as it has now been damaged the service provider can refute the claim on the basis that you have damaged the camera yourself and they are now not obliged to repair, replace it or refund you (abuse defence).
      Thank you.

      Kind regards,

      The Legal Advice Office

  12. Danny says:

    Hi, I recently bought a tablet from an online store, the tablet had a keyboard and cover included in the price, after having used it for maybe 2 weeks i noticed the keys of the keyboard had scratched the screen badly. Is there anything I could do either get my money back or get a replacement ? kind regards. Danny

    • Danny,
      You have the protection of the CPA and have th right to insist that the service provider replace, repair or refund you your money at their expense in terms of section 56(2) of the CPA.
      Try that first and if they will not help you; revert.

      Kind regards,

      The Legal Advice Office

  13. Theresa says:

    I purchased a nano sim card from Autopage in Cresta 10/02/15. I no longer any use of the sim card. It has not been used, opened, or activated. It is still in it’s packaging. 11/02/15 I tried to return it to the store for a refund but they refused to refund me.

    Do I have a case and how much would it cost for your company to issue a formal statutory letter to the dealer on my behalf?

  14. Leon says:

    Good day to you. on the 20th of December 2014 i bought 3 items from Cash Crusaders in brackenfell.

    1 x 7″ tablet, 1 x electronic scale, 1x electric organ

    these was Christmas presents and was opened during the Christmas period. the scale is any ladies love as it read different weight the whole time, we placed it back in its packaging and set to return it after the Christmas period (went away for holiday) during this time my sons 7″ tablet malfunctioned. on the 6th of January we returned the items and was told that they must first check it for damage. 3 weeks later we were informed that the technician that does the repairs said we used the wrong charger for the unit. now in my house there is not one single item that has the same connector as the tablet. i asked them to prove this.
    now today nearly 8 weeks later still no news. whilst my daughter was using the electronic piano it blew up with a loud bang.

    what do i do. i am afraid i might go to them and start beating them with my fists.

    • Leon,
      If the items were defective at the time of the sale you have the choice of repair, replace or refund at the service providers expense.
      The choice is yours not theirs.
      However this is a formal legal process and it is not advisable to try it yourself.
      You will have to instruct us to do an intervention and a letter of demand to them.
      This process will take a week and cost R 3000.00; and this sum will have to be paid to the credit of our bank account before we start that process for you.
      This sum may be reclaimed from them in terms of the demand.
      Please revert should you want our help.
      We trust you find this in order.
      Thank you.

      Kind regards,

      The Legal Advice Office

  15. Gina says:

    Hi. We are a retalier and we had a difficult customer yesterday whose dad purchased two Lego toys for her son. She then stormed in 10 minutes later demanding the money back because it was innopropriate for her son ( the grandfather and grandson picked the toys together). We told her our store policy is only exchange, no refunds. She then threatened to go to the CPA. But I’m pretty sure the CPA states that if the item is not defective or unsafe, then the customer must respect the store policy. We are not entitled to refund because of a change of heart but will happily exchange. Anyhow, we ended up giving her the money so she can leave because she was rude and hostile and just plain racist ( I’m a foreigner). We just want to know if she was right or we were and what advice can you give us if a situation like that ever arises again. Because we do have a policy. Thank you

    • Regina,
      You are quite correct. The CPA only applies to damages, defective or goods that are not fit for their intended use; which is not applicable to these facts.
      This amounts to buyer’s remorse and that is all.
      Stick to your guns.
      Thank you.

  16. Lynn says:


    I received a gift which does not fit me and when returning it to the store, they informed me that I can I need to find a suitable replacement in 30 days. But my problem is that they don’t have what I need in stock yet, so am I expected to take anything just to meet their 30 day rule. They also refused a gift card.


  17. Saabira says:

    Hi there, on the 2nd April 2015 I bought a 1tb internal Hard drive from Matrix Computers. I plugged it in for the first time on the 5th of April 2015, used it for 5 days and then the product became defective- the hard drive fan turned off and began over heating in my casing. I returned it to Matrix on the 14th of April 2015; they’re forcing me to do a repair, however can I take a refund? This is less than a month with the product being defective?

    • Saabira,
      On those facts; in terms of section 56 (2) of the CPA you are entitled to a choice of repair, replace or refund. Your choice not theirs.
      Thank you.

      Kind regards,

      The Legal Advice office

  18. Muneera says:

    Hi, I bought a camera from Hifi Corp It was working fine initially but stopped working this saturday. It is still less then 6 months. When I switched it on, the lens zooms out and an error message appears on the screen. Even after I switched it off, the lens doesn’t retract. I removed the batteries and put them back in, tried switching it on and off multiple times, but the lens still wouldn’t move. I searched it on the internet and came across other people that had the same issue as me. I took it in store for a refund, as I am not happy with its quality and its defective. But now, when the guy working there, switched it on, it suddenly worked. Hifi corp said they will have to first send it back to the manufacturer for assessment and if the manufacturer agrees that there is a problem, then only will they refund me. Otherwise, they’ll just service it and return it to me. Is this right? Can they do this? I am really not happy with the quality, if the camera is till like new and is already giving me problems (lens getting stuck) bearing in mind that this is not one isolated issue (as others have experienced the same), can they refuse to give me a refund if in the case that the manufacturer claims that it is not defective?

  19. Javon says:

    Hi I purchased a Dremel Versatip soldering iron from Makro yesterday, and the lowest temperature it reaches is not low enough to use when soldering chips on to pc boards,

    The inside on the packaging is slightly burnt its like a foam material,

    And the instructions are in German and it doesn’t specify what temperatures it reaches, the sales person in the tools department provided no help whatsoever,

    Can I return it today for a refund?

    Kind Regards.

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