By Alois Vinga
RETAILERS and businesses denying their customers the right to a refund and return goods under the recently promulgated Consumer Protection Act (CPA) risk imprisonment, top lawyer Alex Majachani has warned.
Unpacking the hidden details in the recently birthed legislation during Destiny TV’s Business Brief Programme, legal expert Majachani of Alex F & Associates revealed that the CPA, promulgated in December 2020, consolidated consumer rights through its far reaching 92 sections.
“You would appreciate that prior to its introduction, we had a disjointed framework for the regulation of consumer rights, regulating the market place, and there was no consolidated legal piece for managing the market in relation to the consumers.
“If you look at the new Act, you will understand that it is basically an Act that is there to protect the rights of the consumers,” he said.
Majachani said the legal piece covers those acting as consumers buying goods and services and those on other end of manufacturing and selling the goods and puts in place mechanisms, one of them is the Consumer Protection Commission, which hears complaints from the public, adjudicates over them, and also conducts arbitration.
“Responsible authorities need to raise awareness on this document which I think most companies are not even aware of right now.
“Section 10 of the Act brings the right of customers to safety, value, and substance of the goods. Section 11 brings in the idea of the implied warranty. It doesn’t matter whether one is the producer, retailer, and wholesaler.
“The implications are that within a period of six months if that warranty is breached the customer is at liberty to return the goods without any consequences. Section 21 of the Act, deals with displays which mention that there are no returns, exchanges and refunds. It outlaws such notices and they carry a jail term of up to five years or fines at level 14,” he said.
Also unpacking the CPA during the programme, lawyer Tendai Nyamanhindi said in terms of the CPA, if a client buys a product from the supplier, and within six months they find out that there is a defect, the Act still allows them to return the goods.
In that event, a supplier can either offer to repair the product or take it back to the client. If there are other issues within a period of three months after the repair, the seller is obligated to replace or refund.
“There are several entitlements that have been given to the consumer by the statute. These include the rights to health and safety , the right to choose, information , to be heard, Some of these rights were previously provided for in the previous Act and they have been broadened by this particular Act,” she said.
The experts added that companies should urgently go through the CPA and comply with it well in advance before customers begin to comply with the legal piece.