The rights of all consumers are detailed and protected as part of the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008. Section 15 of the Act addresses the service and repair of goods, pre-authorisation of work and the provision of estimates. This is specifically relevant to the Autobody Repairs Industry. In summary, as a consumer, it is important to note that you have the following rights:
- Section 15 of the Act dealing with pre-authorisation of repairs or maintenance services, only applies to transactions above the prescribed threshold of R1.00 as well as where the consumer requested an estimate before any services or goods are supplied.
- A service provider may not charge a consumer for the supply of any goods or services unless the consumer authorised the work contained in the estimate provided.
- A service provider may not charge a consumer for the supply of any goods or services if the consumer declined the offer of the estimate in writing or any other recordable manner.
- If the consumer pre-authorised the charge up to a certain maximum amount, the amount charged must not exceed that maximum amount.
- A consumer may not be charged a fee for the preparation of a cost estimate unless the service provider discloses the price of preparing such an estimate to the consumer and the consumer approved it.
- A supplier may not charge the consumer a price for any service, or goods and services, higher than the price indicated in the estimate.
- Where the consumer has authorised work to continue after the service provider informed the consumer of additional estimated charges for extra work to be performed, then the supplier may also charge for these additional services.
- No work other than what was contained in the original estimate must be performed without first obtaining the consumer’s approval for the additional work estimate. Failure to do so will mean that the additional work performed are unsolicited and the consumer may not be required to pay for it.
- In terms of the Act, an ‘‘estimate’’ means a statement of the projected total price for any service to be provided by a supplier, including any goods or components to be supplied in connection with that service’. An estimate is thus a highest possible price quotation.
- An estimate must specify:
- A breakdown and the total of the amount to be charged if the repair or maintenance is effected;
- The nature and extent of the repair or maintenance;
- The period of validity of the quote; and
- The period within which the consumer must collect the goods and the consequence if not done.
- When marketing goods or services, the supplier must not make any false, misleading or deceptive statements to the consumer. A statement will, amongst others, be false, misleading or deceptive if the supplier falsely states or implies that:
- The necessary service, maintenance or repair facilities or parts are readily available for or within a reasonable period; or
- Any service, part, replacement, maintenance or repair is needed or advisable.
- In terms of Section 56 of the Act, where the consumer allows the supplier to repair failed, defective or unsafe goods and it is returned by the consumer within six months of delivery or within three months after such repair, the failure, defect or unsafe feature re-appears or a further failure, defect or unsafe feature is discovered, then the supplier must (at its choice):
- Replace the goods; or
- Refund to the consumer the price paid by the consumer for the goods.
- Section 57 of the Act compels a service provider to warrant new or reconditioned parts installed during repair or maintenance work, including labour, for a minimum of three months after installation. This warranty will be void if the consumer subjected the installed part or goods to misuse or abuse. The warranty further does not apply to ordinary wear and tear.
- Where reconditioned, rebuilt, remade or grey market parts or components (goods) are used in the performance of a repair, service or maintenance work this fact should expressly be disclosed to the consumer by the supplier. (Section 25 and Regulation 8)
- Poorly performed service or maintenance work can cause harm to the consumer through product failure, unsafe, hazardous or defective goods. This would potentially place the service provider in the supply chain for product liability in terms of Section 61 of the Act.
- Section 65 of the Act stipulates that a supplier will be liable to the consumer for any loss resulting from the supplier’s failure to exercise care, diligence and skill normally required of a person caring for the property of another. This is the case where the service provider takes possession of the consumer’s property in order to perform repair, service or maintenance work. A thorough pre-work inspection should thus always be performed in the presence of the consumer and the condition of the property recorded.
- A supplier must retain any parts and components removed from any goods or property during repair or maintenance work, keep them separate and return them to the consumer in a reasonably clean container unless the consumer declines the return. The above does not apply to work performed in terms of a warranty, an insurance claim or where the parts or components must in terms of public regulation be disposed of in a certain manner and in the interest of public health and safety or environmental safety.
DISCLAIMER: The above summary does not imply a complete and detail explanation of the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 nor does it express or represent any qualified legal opinions. It is CRA’s view based on our understanding and interpretation of the Act. We strongly recommend that if you feel that your rights as a consumer has been prejudiced, you acquire qualified legal counsel.
ADDITIONAL DOWNLOADABLE INFORMATION
1. Consumer Protection Act, 68 of 2008
2. Consumer Protection Act, Section 15 Summary – Service and Repair of Goods, Pre-authorisation and Provision of Estimates
3. SA Automotive Industry Code of Conduct
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