The Home Tester Club, a social community review and ratings site born in South Africa and being exported internationally by the Buchanan Group, has signed up its 25th thousand member in South Africa, showing growth of more than 200% over the past eight months. The rapid growth has doubled the size of this social community over the past six months.

 

The Buchanan Group, known for its retail marketing tools such as Brand Power, Zoot Review and Medifacts, launched The Home Tester Club (http://www.hometesterclub.com) just over a year ago in a bid to allow FMCG retail brands to tap into the power of social media and the subsequent rise in the importance of online and web-influenced offline sales, which already accounts for 42% of total retail sales in the US. The Home Tester Club allows consumers access to a platform where they can rate and review new FMCG products on a safe, trusted and uncensored platform.

 

Building a community of interest around product reviews and shared shopping advice was the brainchild of Buchanan’s South African operation headed by Buchanan Group Africa, India and Middle East CEO Steve Cragg. The social platform has since been exported to India with plans afoot to roll it out into various international markets.

 

New FMCG products brands can use the network to distribute samples to The Home Tester Club community members who not only rate and review the product but also serve as brand advocates by handing out product samples to friends, family and neighbours.

 

The reviews and ratings posted on the Club allows fellow shoppers access to unbiased opinion and recommendations on new products and also serves marketers with consumer insights outside formal focus groups, while gaining unforced traction through word-of mouth in the social media space for brands who ultimately can also choose to these use consumer recommendations in its marketing communications.

 

“Clients are starting to see the value in what the club and specifically the Word of Mouth Advocacy has to offer,” says Cragg. “To date we have run Word of Mouth Advocacy Sampling campaigns for Unilever, Nestle, Kraft and Pioneer Foods and more brands are signing up.”

 

One such campaign, for Comfort Fabric Conditioner, saw 833 club members receive 10 000 samples to use and review as well as to distribute to their personal networks. A special Facebook site was set up and linked to a travel prize where consumers receiving samples were directed to and asked to share their experiences. Within four weeks the page received over ten thousand ‘Likes,’ reached 54 655 consumers virally and served up 982 158 page impressions. The cherry on top was that 75% of HTC trialists surveyed had bought new Comfort Fabric Conditioner after it had been passed on to them to try.

 

Ultimately the Club will expand beyond the internet and onto mobile devices for use in the actual retail environment taking the community much closer to the actual transaction. Quick Response (QR) codes will allow club members to view new product ratings at the point-of-purchase and then decide whether it’s worthwhile or not.

 

The Home Tester Club in India is also growing rapidly with over 10 000 members signed up onto the platform and 17 000 fans on its Facebook page.

 

For more information log onto www.hometesterclub.com or contact Craig Melling-Williams on 021 424 2310.

Arguably, any company with a growth plan needs to look at Africa as a potential business option, as it is one of the few places that are currently showing growth.  Business in the region is however very different, says Rory Twort, the Area Manager for Africa at AxizWorkgroup.  “The African business landscape is definitely more relationship-driven in addition to being extremely price-sensitive, and with more and more companies piling in, it is very competitive,” states Twort.


AxizWorkgroup,
a leading IT infrastructure and software distributor, currently has branches in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia.  In addition, the company is presently negotiating further developments into Mozambique, Kenya and Angola. AxizWorkgroup is currently supplying Africa with hardware product brands such as Acer, HP, IBM, Samsung and Lenovo, as well as software brands the likes of Microsoft, VMware, Norton and Adobe.

 

“It is important to stay abreast of the legislative requirements of each country and also to understand the impact of foreign exchange fluctuations, which can impact profitability rapidly.  From an AxizWorkgroup perspective, we ensure that our branches not only abide by legislation, but we also prefer to employ locals from each of the countries we operate in. Not only does this afford locals the opportunity to assist in the economic upliftment of their own country, but it also helps us to better understand and deal with local business issues,” explains Twort.

 

Challenges

“It is however crucial to do your research and to have solid financial controls in place before embarking on an African business venture”, says Twort.  “The money trail is certainly a great deal harder to track in Africa as you don’t have agencies and companies that can readily do a credit check on a prospective client.  Business transactions can be very large, and companies often find that they will not be insured on a transaction for the full amount or not insured at all.  It is therefore of paramount importance to have an airtight financial management system in place.”

 

Finding a balance between too rigid an approach to financial control systems and the building of a lasting relationship can be tricky though.  “It literally boils down to having sufficient country knowledge on your side that needs to be supported by a strong ability to build lasting relationships and trust.  People in Africa are generally great to deal with and the cultural experience is fantastic, but it takes time and presence in a country to gain enough of a foothold to comfortably partner with prospective clients,” says Twort.

 

The logistics of doing business in Africa is a complex dynamic that needs to be considered.  “By definition, you will be dealing with custom officials and varying country regulations on a regular basis, which in itself poses an element of risk.  Do you then deliver directly to the client or do the products become the property and responsibility of the client once it enters the country?  All of these logistical factors need to be considered and planned for when it comes to the establishment of a distribution network that works,” suggests Twort.

 

Keeping cash flow liquid in Africa is another challenge to contend with.  “Financial transactions are a great deal more complex in Africa, but very rewarding.  Some countries are quite prompt with their payments whereas you can wait up to 90 days for payment from others, which diminishes your profits in the low-profit market quite significantly. We also find that the government and parastatals in each of the countries are big drivers of technological business,” explains Twort.

 

The infrastructure within Africa is steadily increasing with connectivity improving a great deal.  Education standards, unfolding opportunities and the size of the economy in each of the countries act as a barometer to how Tech-savvy a country is.  “All the countries are however growing with leaps and bounds from a technological point of view, which provides a perfect platform for AxizWorkgroup to expand its footprint on the African continent,” concludes Twort.

 

About AxizWorkgroup

AxizWorkgroup is a leading IT infrastructure and software distributor that unites cutting-edge hardware and software. The company’s portfolio includes servers, storage, networking and communication infrastructure, desktop computers, notebooks, printers, PC components, virtualisation, security and infrastructure software. AxizWorkgroup has long-standing relationships with leading global vendors such as Adobe, Acer, Asus, Citrix, EMC, HP, IBM, Kingston, Intel, Logitech, Lenovo, Lexmark, LG, McAfee, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Samsung, Seagate, Symantec and VMware. AxizWorkgroup is a fully owned subsidiary of JSE listed Pinnacle Technology Holdings and is headquartered in Gauteng, with regional offices in the Eastern and Western Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. (www.axiz.com)

Merchant West has put the power back in the hands of business with the launch of Price Tag, a unique tool for verifying whether you are getting a fair deal on your office automation agreements

Merchant West, an authorised financial services provider specialising in business finance and advisory services, has launched Price Tag, a tool that allows users to calculate theactual costs associated with the leasing of multifunctional printers and copiers. This allows for greater flexibility and profitability in a historically uncertain market.

Merchant West also advocates the separation of the roles played by equipment suppliers and financiers, eliminating all hold that the supplier may have over the business. This ensures that the consumer is not penalised when upgrading to different brands or seen by suppliers as a means to making additional margins through outrageous rentals or inflated settlements. The resulting transparency ensures market-related pricing from the supplier and competitive interest rates from the financier.

“Many companies spend thousands of Rands on the hire of multifunctional printers and copiers but the contracts and related costs are never fully verified making it difficult for the company to recognise whether or not they are getting a fair deal,” says Sabine Stevens, a director of Merchant West. “Given the lack of transparency and un-accessible data around the cost of this equipment, the company has no other option but to take the supplier’s word for it.”

This is where Price Tag comes in. Merchant West has leveraged its experience in the industry and knowledge of available brands to collate a comprehensive list of mutlifunctional printer and copier prices and related contract costing structures available in South Africa. For a sense of what Price Tag is capable of consumers can register and log on to the website and make use of four tools to give them the information needed to make the right decision about officeautomation agreements into which they will be tied for the foreseeable future. Although online access is limited a full audit can be arranged through Merchant West. The tools available are :

 

1.     Price Verification on new equipment – Does the price you have been quoted for a specific make and model of equipment fall within the industry floor and ceiling price?

2.     Pricing analysis on existing equipment – Have you been offered a fair price on your existing contract in relation to industry standards?

3.     Settlement computation – Is the settlement you have been quoted fair?

4.     Rental calculator – What should your monthly repayments be on the brands, makes and models that you have selected? 

“Access to this information puts the power back into the hands of the business consumer,” says Stevens. “It allows companies to calculate the fair cost of office automation, giving them the tools necessary to negotiate and secure the most cost effective arrangement

 Reputable suppliers are also being placed in a negative light by those that are unreasonably inflating their prices and the reputation of the entire industry is being tainted by the few who put their high margins ahead of fair customer interaction.

Price Tag’s unique verification tools are accessible electronically to any registered user. Visit www.merchantwest.co.za/pricetag to register for free. The website is simple and user friendly, and the information is immediate. 

eBucks cements partnership with TAKEALOT.com as eBucks online shopping spend grows by 30%

 

eBucks, FNB and RMB Private Bank’s rewards programme, has announced a new spend partnership with leading South African online retailer, TAKEALOT.com, further extending the rewards programme’s footprint in the online retail environment.

 

With over six million products available, TAKEALOT.com will significantly contribute to the selection of products eBucks members can purchase online, using their popular eBucks rewards currency as a form of payment. 

 

“eBucks members are ahead of the curve when it comes to shopping online in South Africa,” says Jolande Duvenage, eBucks CEO. “Nearly 22% more eBucks members used their rewards currency to purchase items from our range of internet partners in 2011 than in 2010. This growth is significant, especially when you consider that the number of active South African Internet users who use the Internet for shopping, only grew by 5%* over the same period.”

 

She says that eBucks members are also spending more online, with eBucks noting a 30% growth in online purchases made through its existing internet partners, and a 15% growth through the eBucks online store in the last year.

 

“We’ve found that as online shopping grows in South Africa, our members are increasingly embracing this convenient shopping practice by purchasing more of their gifts and luxuries through various online stores,” says Duvenage.

 

The trend towards online shopping is largely driven by members finding the safety and convenience of online shopping to be more appealing, coupled with the fact that they can easily shop around for great deals, Duvenage says. 

 

“We continually work to find ways for our members to stretch their wallets by using their eBucks to purchase items that they would otherwise possibly not be able to afford.  Partnering with TAKEALOT.com was the perfect addition to our portfolio of Internet partners as it offers a wide range of sport, home,  baby, electronics, beauty, books  and other products  that I’m sure our members will enjoy shopping for,” says Duvenage.

 

Members are able to purchase items on TAKEALOT.com by redeeming their accumulated eBucks, or by using a combination of eBucks and Rands, should the total cost of their desired purchase exceed their eBucks balance.

 

“eBucks is one of the most established and well-recognised rewards programmes in South Africa, so this collaboration was a logical next step for us. By including eBucks on TAKEALOT.com, we are able to cement our offering of simple, safe and secure online shopping,” says Kim Reid, CEO of TAKEALOT.com. “We are really looking forward to being able to offer eBucks as yet another payment option for TAKEALOT.com shoppers.”

 

*The latest MasterCard Worldwide Online Shopping Survey revealed that the number of South Africans shopping online has steadily increased over the past two years, with 58% of respondents in a survey of active Internet users saying that they use the Internet for shopping. This is an increase from the 53% that said that they shop online in 2010, and the 44% that gave the same answer in 2009.

 

Sales of Xerox A4 laser printers and multi-function devices grew by a stunning 71% during the first quarter of 2012, as compared with the same period in 2011. This growth is all the more remarkable given the fact that the total laser printer market in South Africa shrank by some 28%, according to IDC figures.

 

“Xerox’s growth in the A4 laser segment is important not only in itself but because it shows our strategy of gaining brand share in both the consumer and small to medium-sized business space is starting to pay off,” says Peter Vieira, divisional manager: Xerox Channels at Bytes Document Solutions, the authorised distributor for Xerox in South Africa. “We are already well established in the enterprise space, and are aiming to achieve similar success in these additional market segments.”

Vieira attributes the growth to three factors. “We have increased our range and depth of channel partners to allow us to reach new segments of the consumer and small to medium-sized business markets, including people who had previously not owned printers. Xerox is developing the value-for-money products they are looking for, backed up by resellers that hold adequate stock and offer good support. All of these factors deliver the kind of experience that builds brand loyalty to both our channel and end-user customers,” he says. “A great team at Bytes Document Solutions is driving the whole process.”

During 2011, Xerox sold some 17 400 A4 laser units in the South African market. This represents a growth of 51% as compared with the previous year. Many of these are first-time buyers and are thus, says Vieira, beginning to build a relationship with the brand and its service offering.

“For first-time buyers, these devices represent a relatively low investment and so they give us the opportunity to gain new customers, and start building their confidence in the Xerox brand,” says Vieira. “We have seen rapid and sustained growth over the past two years, with total sales in excess of 33 000 units. We see all of these customers as potential brand ambassadors for Xerox’s entire product range.”

 

About Bytes Document Solutions

Bytes Document Solutions is Africa’s leading technology and services company which offers the widest portfolio of offerings through three independent business units, namely Xerox, LaserCom and NOR Paper/PaperGeni, A wholly owned division of JSE-listed Altron, Bytes Document Solutions is the authorised Xerox distributor in 26 sub-Saharan countries and a division of Bytes Technology Group. www.xerox.co.za  

 

Contact

Tanya Moodley, Bytes Document Solutions (011) 928 9111, tanya.moodley@bdsol.co.za

Karen Heydenrych, Communikay, 083 302 9494, karen@communikay.co.za

The Pioneer Foods Group has reconfirmed its commitment to “feeding the nation” through the launch of Limani, a project that will donate permaculture food garden kits to various schools. The project is being launched at the Shikati School in Limpopo on the 16th of June 2012.

 

Limani is executed in partnership with Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA), the first and only South African social enterprise addressing sustainable development through climate change action, food security and greening, with a strong focus on environmental and global warming education and awareness. “The Limani project is important to the Pioneer Food Group, as it addresses sustainability and food insecurity challenges. Availability of and access to food, as well as the effect of prices on certain sectors of the South African community are huge problem areas. The Limani project provides the opportunity to create food gardens and will at least ensure that the children in the participating schools are food secure,” says Lulu Khumalo, executive of corporate affairs and sustainability at Pioneer Foods (Pty) Ltd.

 

“According to the FAO’s State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011 report, high food prices are likely to continue and volatility may increase in coming years, making farmers, consumers and countries more vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity. It is therefore clear that programmes such as Limani are of utmost importance to South African communities,” adds Khumalo.

 

Khumalo confirms that the Limani project will support the development of natural food gardens for specially selected schools. This will not only introduce a form of practical food gardening education for scholars, but will provide food for schools and surrounding communities, as well as create entrepreneurial opportunities for parents at the schools, as extra vegetables not needed or used by the school can be sold. The Limani project is modelled on other successful FTFA initiatives where schools are clustered so that their communities, including many unemployed parents, work together while sharing knowledge and resources in an effort to improve lives and livelihoods; another of Pioneer Foods’ passions.

 

In addition, Khumalo believes that this project will assist in improving the results of the learners at the schools; “Schools in underprivileged areas tend to experience a drop in concentration in students, as many of them have very little to eat on a daily basis. These vegetable gardens will be an important source of basic foods for those enrolled in and living near the school.”

 

FTFA has been chosen as partner in this strategic project due to their long standing experience in the permaculture food gardening field. The name permaculture is derived from permanent agriculture and is described by Simon Henderson as “the use of ecology as the basis for designing integrated systems of food production, housing appropriate technology and community development. It offers a practical, creative approach to the problems of diminishing resources and threatened life support systems now facing the world”.

 

“We are excited to work with Pioneer Foods on this project which will benefit so many and hopefully be a precursor for more of the same,” says Verena Wagner, FTFA programme manager. “The Limpopo conditions for growing food are good and the Nutrition Directorate of the Department of Education in Limpopo is very active, making it much easier to execute the programme. Each school will receive plant materials, gardening tools, educational resources and practical permaculture workshops to help them to develop their food gardens. The primary aim is food security and improved nutrition for the children. Any excess food can be used to create entrepreneurial opportunities for community members. The garden will also serve as a living laboratory for the schools themselves, where children can experience their connection to the earth and food, gaining an understanding that lettuce doesn’t come from a supermarket.” 

 

Adding excitement to the Limani launch will be Dreamfields, an organisation working towards soccer development for children under the age of 12 and ‘spreading the joy of playing soccer’. A round robin soccer tournament will be held at the launch, in which 15 of the schools taking part in the Limani project will play. These all boy teams will each play two matches of 20 minutes a side on a half field.  Twelve of these 15 schools taking part in the tournament will receive kits including boots, socks, shin guards and soccer kits for all 15 players. The team coaches will receive a t-shirt, a whistle and three soccer balls with a pump.

 

The tournament will end with a prize-giving ceremony where all schools will receive participating medals, while the winners and runners-up will receive trophies. “Our ultimate vision is to develop a soccer league in the Limpopo area,” says Linda Khuzwayo from the Dreamfields project. “At the launch of Limani, however, we just want the children to have fun and play soccer. We are in full support of the Limani project; to develop good athletes, the correct nutrition has to be available. It is opportune that the Limani pilot project is also aimed at primary schools”.

 

One of the 16 schools in this pilot project will be developed into a resource centre where others can access learning and materials and receive support. Eventually the seven best schools will become resource centres. The immediate vision for the project is to expand to 75 schools, but it is hoped that eventually all schools in South Africa will have permaculture food gardens.

 

The long-term vision for the Limani project is to develop a model that can be replicated to address food security needs of schools nationally. As climate change takes effect and price increases are diminishing the quality of life of all communities, there is a need for home grown food and Pioneer Foods, in partnership with FTFA, is committed to doing its part in solving the problem for the communities of South Africa.

 

Inovocom has been requested by various members to produce an Annual Wall Calendar.


They will be printing 20 000 A1 Wall Calendars for their members. An opportunity exists for our suppliers to own a “month” on the 20 000 Calendars, reflecting your brand and product.

 

The cost will be R7 500 per block month (37,50 cents per Calendar). Your brand will remain visible for at least 12 months in end user offices around the country. A main sponsor opportunity also exists at a once off cost of R19,950.

 

It would be appreciated if you could indicate your interest to participate by sending an email to kim@inovocom.co.za..

First National Bank’s Instant Accounting solution which enables business owners to produce full management accounts using information pulled automatically from their bank statements has undergone a major facelift in recent months, aimed at making it more user friendly for the small business owner. 

 

When it was launched in 2008, Instant Accounting was the first product of its kind to be offered by a bank in South Africa.   It is still the only product of its kind which uses data directly from the customer’s bank statements and eliminates the need for any manual file downloads or imports.

 

FNB constantly monitors best practices in accounting solutions and other online software packages around the world. After a recent review of this nature and taking into account feedback received from existing users, FNB effected various enhancements to keep Instant Accounting at the forefront of accounting packages.  The idea was to make the solution more intuitive and visually appealing for users.

 

Some of the key new features of Instant Accounting include: a new user-friendly look and feel; a new quick-start guide which provides four easy steps on how to get started; an activity monitor which shows how far you have progressed on the system and what steps you need to take to progress further; a new menu layout; faster category assignments including a rule creation wizard; and a new user-friendly and a visually appealing dashboard with sub-menu tabs to keep track of where you are.

 

“The creation of an enabling environment for entrepreneurs in South Africa is crucial to the country’s economic development.  Through a variety of innovative offerings FNB strives to provide entrepreneurs with the necessary tools to have the best possible chance of success. Instant Accounting can simplify the business owner’s accounting function and lead to considerable cost saving on accounting fees” says John Botha, head of value-added services for FNB Business Banking.

 

Instant Accounting is supported by a dedicated and specialised in-house support centre and  is free of charge to FNB customers.  It can generate a variety of useful reports, such as income statements, cash-flow statements, debtors and creditors’ reports and financial dashboards.

 

“We have already received some positive feedback on the enhancements from existing users and we expect take-up to increase rapidly in coming months.  To many business owners the thought of taking on the management of their business’s accounting function might seem like a daunting task, but once they register for the new and improved Instant Accounting and familiarise themselves with its easy to use interface, they will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to produce accurate management accounts for their business in a short space of time,” concludes Botha.

 

First National Bank is a division of First Rand Bank Limited. An authorised financial services provider

 

Choice, performance, economy and ecology sum up new Epson Workforce Pro range

 

As part of a new approach to its business range, Epsonhas introduced a series of single and multi-function printers specifically designed to offer high quality output, durability, and cost and energy efficiency to small and medium-sized businesses – called the Epson Workforce Pro range.

 

The WorkForce Pro WP-4000 Series of single-function printers and the WorkForce Pro WP-4500 Series of multi-function printers offer laser-like looks and performance, combined with great reliability and up to 50 percent lower cost per page than competitive lasers[1]. The high-speed inkjet printers offer a genuine alternative to laser products, and provide further cost savings due to a super-fast automatic double-sided printing function, reducing paper usage.

 

In addition, users benefit from lower ink costs with a choice of high-yield cartridges that print up to 3,400 pages, while a print resolution of up to 4800x1200dpi is much higher than comparative lasers, and offers clearer text and sharper images. Selected models in the range are also ideal for more complex environments, and include PCL6, PCL5c and Adobe PostScript 3.

 

Kelvin Reynolds, general manager of Epson South Africa says: “The WorkForce Pro line-up offers small, medium and large businesses a new approach to printing based on choice, performance, economy and ecology. We understand that businesses need high-quality, reliable, functional, high-performance and cost-effective products which the WorkForce Pro range affords them.”

 

Reynolds points out that the WorkForce Pro range largely suits a business environment because they offer an affordable alternative to laser printer technology: “We have taken our core technology and expertise, and have placed it into the business market to offer something innovative and appealing to our customers. The combination of lower running costs, reduced up-front capital costs and reduced environmental impact holds an overwhelming appeal to businesses seeking efficient printing solutions.”

 

In summary, the WorkForce Pro ranges form part of Epson’s commitment to helping businesses lower their total cost of ownership over the lifecycle of the printer by offering:

Choice – of technologies and a wide variety of products, supplies and services, engineered specifically for businesses

Performance – highly productive products with many key features to help businesses be more efficient

Economy – products that are economical in their use of paper, energy and supplies

Ecology – environmentally-friendly and energy e products

 

Model

Type

WorkForce Pro WP-4095

Single-function printer, A4, colour, duplex, network-ready, PCL Postscript

WorkForce Pro WP-4015 DN

Single-function printer, A4, colour, duplex, network-ready

WorkForce Pro WP-4025 DW

Single-function printer, A4, colour, duplex, network-ready, Wi-Fi

WorkForce Pro WP-4515 DN

All-in-one (print, scan, copy), A4, colour, duplex, network-ready

WorkForce Pro WP-4525 DNF

4-in-1 (print, scan, copy, fax), A4, colour, duplex, network-ready

WorkForce Pro WP-4535 DWF

4-in-1 (print, scan, copy, fax), A4, colour, duplex, network-ready, Wi-Fi

WorkForce Pro WP-4595 DTWF

4-in-1 (print, scan, copy, fax), A4, colour, duplex, network-ready, Wi-Fi, LCD viewer, PCL Postscript

 

 

For further information contact Carmen Steynberg of Tribeca Public Relations on line: +27 11 208 5528.

 

Returns policies and the CPA

 

Many retailers have standard policies that deal with returns and repairs relating to defective products. Some of these policies may have been drafted long ago and have probably become outdated due to changing legislation.

The Consumer Protection Act (the “CPA”) contains provisions that have a direct impact on these policies. The CPA introduced standard warranties for goods supplied to consumers. There are also remedies for consumers who purchased goods that do not comply with those warranties. There has been some confusion regarding when consumers may return goods to suppliers, or request refunds or replacements.

Prescribed warranties

The CPA prescribes four warranties for products (in Section 55). These warranties constitute standards with which all products supplied to consumers must comply.

Suppliers must warrant that their goods:

·         Are reasonably suitable for the purposes for which are generally intended;

·         Are of good quality, in good working order and free of any defects;

·         Will be usable and durable for a reasonable period of time (having regarded to the use to which they would normally be put and to all the surrounding circumstances of supply); and

·         Comply with any applicable standards set under the Standards Act, 1993 or any other public regulation.


Suppliers may not exclude the warranties mentioned above. As such, a store’s returns policy may not limit the right that consumers have under the CPA. For instance, the policy may not state that sale goods may not be returned if those goods do not comply with the CPA’s warranties.

The first two warranties may be excluded if the supplier expressly informs the consumer that the goods are offered in a specific condition and the consumer expressly accepts the goods in that condition. This may sound similar to the “voetstoots” provisions in our common law, but it is much more limited. Firstly, the retailer will have to make sure that they disclose the product defect to the customer and, secondly, the customer must make it clear that they accept the product in that condition.

What can a consumer do if a product does not meet the standards?

If a product does not comply with the prescribed warranties, the consumer may return the product to the supplier within six months after delivery. (This is regulated by Section 56 of the CPA.) For example, if a customer bought a kettle and it stops functioning within six months, the customer can return the kettle to the retailer.

The supplier may not charge a penalty for the return (such as a handling or administration fee). The goods will also be returned at the supplier’s risk and expense. This means that the retailer must pay for the costs related to returning the product to the supplier.

If a product does not comply with the CPA’s standard warranties, the consumer has the discretion to request the supplier to either:

·         Repair the product;

·         Replace the product; or

·         Refund the purchase price paid by the consumer for the product.


The customer can choose any of these three remedies. As such, a retailer cannot force a customer to choose the repair option if the customer would like a refund.

A consumer can not return a product for any defect. The defect must be a material imperfection in the manufacture of the product which makes it less acceptable than persons generally would be reasonably entitled to expect. A defect can also be any characteristic of the product which renders it less useful, practicable or safe than persons generally would be reasonably entitled to expect.

The CPA lists some factors that must be considered when one has to determine whether a product complies with the standard warranties. These factors include the manner in which, and purpose for which, the products were marketed. The instructions for use of the goods and any warnings must also be taken into account. For example, if a kettle is marketed for boiling water, a customer should not be able to return it because they could not cook soup in it or if the kettle malfunctioned because the customer tried to boil muddy water. However, the manufacturer and retailer must make sure that the product information explain the purpose of the product and set out any limitations. Product labelling and instructions must be comprehensive.

If a retailer repairs a defective product, but it appears that the defect has not been fixed or a further defect is discovered, the retailer must replace the product or refund the purchase price to the consumer. This means that there is no further repair option. This remedy is limited to three months from the date of repair.

Other returns

The consumer’s right to return goods, as discussed above, only relate to the situation where the goods do not comply with the CPA’s standard warranties. However, there are also other instances in which consumers can return goods. This is regulated by Section 20 of the CPA.

According to this section, goods may also be returned by a consumer if:

·         The consumer purchased the goods as a result of direct marketing and the customer has cancelled the transaction within the period allowed by the CPA;

·         The consumer did not have the opportunity to examine the goods before delivery and the consumer rejects them because they are not of the contemplated type or quality or do not meet the material specifications of a special order;

·         The supplier delivered goods that were mixed with other goods that were not ordered; or

·         The consumer expressed a particular purpose for the goods and, within ten business days after delivery, the goods are unsuitable for that purpose.


Retailers must update returns policies

These provisions may afford consumers much wider rights than what is allowed for by many retailers’ current refund policies. Suppliers therefore need to check that their policies comply with the CPA’s provisions. The consumer’s right to request a refund can also pose a risk to suppliers. Suppliers would therefore have to be careful to check whether products are returned within the six months period provided for by the CPA.

Retailers must take note that the National Consumer Commission (“NCC”) is serious about enforcing the CPA. The NCC has already done spot checks at some stores to check their returns policies. If a retailer’s policy does not comply with the CPA, a customer could report the retailer to the NCC. The retailer could face substantial penalties if it does not correct its policy.

 By: Danie Strachan, sourced from www.bizcommunity.com

 

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