ONE event on April Fool’s day this year was no joke at all – the introduction of the Consumer Protection Act.

All consumers, including students, now have more rights when either goods or services are marketed to them if they have entered into transactions with suppliers of goods or services.

Before this, consumers had very little control over the way goods were marketed to them and were given little leeway in their protection from contracts with strict terms and conditions.

The department of trade and industry has a guide to the nine rights of the Act on their website which explains each one in detail.  On the eighth point, the “Right to Fair Value, Good Quality and Safety”, they explain that:

“Consumers are permitted to return goods to suppliers, without penalty and at the suppliers’ risk and expense, within a period of six months after delivery of such goods, if the goods are of inferior quality, unsafe or defective.”

Professor Riette Du Plessis at the Wits Law Clinic explains that the Act needs to be tested but it may also apply to universities.

She believes that it will “assist students much [with regards to] student loans, accommodation, bursaries, quality of food on campus and education. The student is in a fantastic position. They are consumers of education and the Act is pro consumer.”

Timothy Smith, a 2nd year BCom law student, said he felt in general that the Act was fantastic for students.

“We have little income to spend on products. We certainly don’t want these items we save up for not to meet our expectations, if they don’t, we have a fair legal voice to complain and gain our money back…  Furthermore, we cannot be locked into an agreement; we can have cold feet and still come out of the deal with our dignity, and cash, intact.”

If your rights as a consumer have been violated, first contact the customer care office or the business manager of the business involved.

After this you may complain to the relevant ombud or the Gauteng Office of Consumer Affairs. For more information contact (011) 355-8000 or visit