Consumer tips

Before making a purchase:

  • Compare brands and shop around. Ask for word-of-mouth recommendations and look for formal product comparison reports.
  • Compare stores. Look for a store with a good reputation and plan ahead to take advantage of sales. Find out if the company is reputable.
  • Check for any extra charges, such as delivery fees, installation and service charges.
  • It is advisable to have the delivery date specified in writing.
  • Read warranties/guarantees to understand what you must do and what the manufacturer must do if you have a problem. Make sure that a guarantee ruling does exist should the supplier or shop go bankrupt. If not, do not make any payments.
  • Read contract terms carefully. Make sure all blank spaces are filled in before you sign it.
  • Ask the sales person to explain the store’s return or exchange policy.
  • Don’t assume an item is a bargain just because it is advertised as one. Remember, “Goedkoop koop is duurkoop” (A bad bargain is expensive at a Rand).

After making a purchase:

  • Read and follow the instructions on how to use the product or service.  Keep copies of advertisements, brochures and manuals given to you at the time of purchase.  Inspect the product carefully at delivery.
  • Use the product only as recommended by the manufacturers in the instructions.
  • Read and understand the warranty/guarantee.
  • Keep all sales receipts, warranties/guarantees, and instructions.
  • If trouble develops, report the problem as soon as possible. Trying to fix the product yourself may cancel the warranty/guarantee.
  • Keep a file of your efforts to resolve the problem. It should include the names of the individuals to whom you speak and the date, time and outcome of the conversation.
  • Use the complaint procedures in this handbook to find out how and where to get your problem solved.
  • Keep copies of all letters you send and the replies you receive. Note the names of all businesses/people to whom you send copies of your letter.
  • State the model number, serial code and brand name of the product.


  • First contact the seller if you have a complaint.
  • If that doesn’t resolve your problem, contact the company head office.
  • If your problem is still unresolved, refer to the index for appropriate organisations that provide assistance.
    Taking legal action should be the last resort.


4.1  Contracts

·         Never sign anything you have not read or do not fully understand. If you can’t understand the contract, have your own expert review it.

·         Never sign a contract if a promoter or retailer will not let you have another person review it first.

·         Be sure that all verbal promises are included in the written contract.

·         Never sign a contract that has blank spaces. Draw lines through them first.

·         Be sure to keep a copy of any contract you sign.

·         A contract is a binding legal agreement between parties.

You must talk to the other party if you do not agree to certain terms. You may change any clause and sign the changes, as long as the other party also agrees and signs the changes


Used cars:·         Before buying a used car from a dealer, there are certain steps you can take to ensure you are getting good value for your money:

·         Be sure to get a valid roadworthy certificate from the seller.

·         Be sure you get a copy of the service history when you purchase the car.

·         Compare dealers for prices, condition and mileage for the model(s) you are interested in buying.

·         Also compare available interest rates and other terms of finance agreements.

·         To estimate the total cost, add in any service or repair expenses you will be likely to pay.

·         Before buying, have a mechanic inspect the car for potential problems. Contact the AA Service Department this should not be bold as in the proof. for assistance.

·         When purchasing a used car from someone other than a dealer, get an invoice of the sale, registration certificate, and copies of all financial transactions as well as clearance from the bank if appropriate.

·         Get a police clearance certificate to ensure it is not a stolen vehicle. Check the indent on the proof

·         Remember, if the sale agreement states “voetstoots”, you will have no recourse to the seller if anything goes wrong with the vehicle.

.Motor vehicle repairs:

  • Be specific about what you want done or the problems you are experiencing.
  • Ask for either a written estimate or that you be called before any major repair work is done. Be sure it is understood that your permission must be obtained before the mechanic does work beyond that which you originally requested.
  • Before you leave the car, make sure the work order specifies what you want done.
  • If additional work is done without your permission, you don’t have to pay for the unauthorised work, and you have the right to have your bill adjusted.
  • Ask to inspect and/or keep all replaced parts.
  • Keep copies of all work orders and receipts and get all warranties in writing.

Home improvements:

·         Compare costs by getting more than one estimate, each based on the same building specifications, materials and time frame.

·         Be sure the written contract includes the contractor’s full name, physical address, phone number and NHBRC registration if required. .The contract should also include a thorough description of the work to be done, the grade and quality of materials to be used, the dates agreed upon for starting and completion, the total cost, payment schedule, how debris will be removed and any other agreement information.

·         Never sign a partially blank contract.  Strike through any blank areas.

·         Most contractors have liability and compensation insurance to protect the customer from a lawsuit in the event of an accident. Ask to see a copy of the insurance certificate.

·         Make sure to get physical address and landline telephone number, otherwise you will be unable to trace the service provider.

·         If you cannot pay for home improvements without a loan, it is a good idea to add a clause to your contract stating it is valid only if financing is obtained.

·         Thoroughly inspect the contractor’s work before making final payment or signing a completion certificate.

·         Check the company and its reputation by asking for references.
Mail order:

  • Be suspicious of exaggerated product claims or very low prices and read product descriptions very carefully – sometimes pictures of products are misleading.
  • Look for the firm’s return policy. If it is not stated, ask before you order. For example, does the company pay charges for shipping and return?
  • Complete the order form as directed. Do not leave out information (such as full address and telephone number, the price of the items ordered, any handling or other charges, the date you mailed or telephoned) in the order, and your method of payment. Keep copies of cancelled cheques and/or statements.
  • Keep complete records of your order, including the company’s name, address and telephone number, the price of the items ordered, any handling or other charges, the date you mailed (or telephoned in) the order, and your method of payment.
  • If you order by mail, your order should be shipped within 30 days after the company receives your complete order, unless another period is agreed upon when placing the order or stated in an advertisement. If your order is delayed, a notice of delay should be sent to you within the promised shipping period along with an option to cancel the order.
  • If you have not received your order after 30 days, contact the company by phone and follow up by letter stating details.
  • Whenever your order involves a large amount of money, always check the company and its reputation before buying.
  • If you buy a product through a television shopping programme, check the cost of the same item sold by other sources.
  • If you buy a product based on a telephone call from a company, ask for a home address and phone number where the caller can be reached.
  • If you have paid by credit card, and you have not received the order, notify the credit card company in writing to reverse the transaction.


Security is an item which is purchased under emotional circumstances, often after a burglary or an attack on an individual. It is recommended that the following questions be asked of a security company before committing yourself to a purchase:

  • Is your company a member of any recognised security association or body? If so, which?
  • Are you and your staff registered with the Security Officers’ Board? (Any company not so registered is acting illegally and therefore would be likely to let you down.)
  • How long has the company been in business?
  • Ask the company to provide at least ten references, and make sure that you check on these references before making your final decision.
  • Ask your insurance company if they know and recommend the company you are thinking of using.INSURANCE·         Most policies require you to pay a specified amount of each claim.·         Dishonestly with claims leads to higher premiums.·         Consumers have the right to see a copy of the contract before signing the application form.·         Renew your drivers licence in good time, delays do occur at licensing offices  INSURANCE COMPLAINTS·         Read your insurance policy carefully to establish if you have a covered claim.      •   You have the responsibility to pay your telephone account in full on or before the due date to avoid disconnection and possible reconnection fees.
    Electronic Shopping:·         Read all the terms and conditions.·         Check you credit card statements to ensure you are not debited twice.·         For international orders be cautious, as there may be no redress if you pay and do not receive the product.
  • ·         Look for the site’s privacy statement. If it is not there, exit and shop elsewhere.
  • ·         Keep a record of all purchases.
  • ·         Only deal with companies that you know or have been recommended to you.
  • If you disagree with anything charged on your account, follow up with your service provider immediately.
  • Your responsibilities as a consumer :
  • All telephone service providers offer special rates for calls made at certain times. The times differ from provider to provider and usually apply at night and over weekends. Not all providers offer these special rates on public holidays. Check which rates apply to your particular service option and make calls during these cheaper times when possible.
  • Managing your telephone expenses
  • The tariffs for data (internet) connections vary considerably between the different service providers – shop around for the best option to suit your budget. You are not obliged to use the internet connection offered by your telephone or cellphone service provider.
  • Some landline service providers and all cellphone service providers offer prepaid services, which means no telephone bills. With prepaid vouchers your telephone call is paid for before you have even made the call.
  • Before entering into a contact with a service provider for either a landline telephone or cellphone, check the various options and costs available from all the service providers. Once you have reached a decision, read the contract carefully before signing.
  • Telephone and Data tips
  • ·         Refer the claim to the relevant Ombudsman (See Section 8)
  • If you have a complaint about an insurance claim that has been rejected or partially paid:
  • ·         Remember that insurance claims are not paid if your car is driven by a person not in possession of a drivers licence except where it can be proven that it was stolen
  • ·         If the policy does not provide the cover you require, do not sign it until you have what you want in writing.
  • ·         Guard against over and underinsurance. In the event of a claim, all goods insured will be assessed and payment will be made according to the pro rata value of the claimed goods.
  • ·         Cheap insurance is not always the best insurance. Seek the best coverage at the best price.