Returns Policy and the Consumer Protection Act

A supplier of goods usually dictates the terms and conditions of sale and includes the returns policy applicable. When constructing these terms and conditions, it is important to keep the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act (the CPA) in mind, as they apply irrespective of the store refund policy. There are a number of sections in the CPA that allow goods to be returned by a customer, but it is important to note that there is no general right of return.

Implied Warranty of Quality

Section 56 of the CPA imposes a built-in or automatic warranty that all goods sold should comply with the requirements listed in Section 55, namely:

• that they are reasonably suitable for the purposes for which they are generally intended;
• that they are of good quality, in good working order and free of any defects;
• that they will be useable and durable (i.e. will last) for a reasonable period of time;
• that they comply with the Standards Act No. 24 of 1945 or other applicable public regulations; and
• that they are reasonably suitable for the specific purpose that the consumer wants to use them for.

If the goods do not meet the requirements set out in Section 55, the customer can return them at the supplier’s risk and expense and without penalty. Further, the customer can elect to have the goods repaired, replaced or get a full refund of the original price paid.

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