The Free State Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA) has launched an e-complaint system which is a new online platform for consumers to lodge complaints.
The platform which officially went live a fortnight ago, is aimed at making it easy for consumers to lodge complaints with the consumer protection office over transactions they may not be happy with.
“The purpose of introducing the e-complaints system is to make consumer protection services more accessible, efficient and right at the consumer’s fingertips,” said DESTEA in a statement.
Consumers can access the e-government portal through the e-services URL http://www.eservices.gov.za.
The e-complaints system was launched at the Harry Gwala Multipurpose Centre in Sasolburg where the provincial government marked the World Consumer Rights Day through its Consumer Protection Office.
The theme for this year’s celebration was “Trusted Smart Products”.
World Consumer Rights Day, according to the DESTEA statement, promotes the basic rights of all consumers. All citizens are mobilised to demand that those rights are respected and protected, and to protest the market abuses and social injustices which undermine them.
“The department invites everybody who has a reason to believe that his/her consumer rights have been infringed to contact the office. The services at the consumer protection office are speedy, confidential and free of charge,” the statement added.
DESTEA said since the start of the financial year in April 2018 to date, the Consumer Protection Office resolved 43 cases worth R1 821 297.65 which is the money that was returned back into the pockets of consumers.
The Metsimaholo community was also educated on their consumer rights and responsibilities with particular emphasis on the fact that consumer rights are human rights.
In line with the theme, the community was advised of their rights when buying trusted smart products. They were told about the fair contractual terms and conditions; clear and accessible contractual information; data security and data protection; protection against unfair business practices, and delivery of goods and services without defects and in due time.
Outlining the trusted smart products to consumers, Keke Mulutsi, a representative from the Independent communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) warned the gathering to ensure that their new cell phones have the ICASA sticker to prove that it is a trusted brand.
He also warned people to conduct online transactions with caution to avoid losing money.
“As much as smart technology brings many opportunities for consumers, we must be aware of important and confidential information that we display on the internet when buying online,” warned Mulutsi.
Consumer Court member, Advocate Anthony Sefo who gave the keynote address on behalf of the MEC for DESTEA Limakatso Mahasa, said products that often give people problems are second hand motor vehicles, furniture, electrical appliances, insurances, building construction, medical services, cell phone contracts and designer clothing.
Earlier, Metsimaholo Executive Mayor Lindiwe Tshongwe, in her welcoming address, expressed concern at the high number of spaza shops in Zamdela Township owned by foreign nationals who are not paying tax.
She urged community members to protect the economy of their municipality and also look out for expired and faulty products when doing their shopping.