You walk around in the mall, minding your own business, and out of nowhere a beautiful lady appears, with a great smile and a friendly demeanour, let’s call her Rose.

Rose tells you about this amazing product and how your life would never really be complete without it. It’s quite expensive but you think “She’s right, I never spoil myself… I deserve this”, or you’re one of those people who say “yes”, just to avoid coming across as rude.

You get home and almost instantly regret buying this product. “I can’t actually afford this at all”, or “when will I really ever use this” are the thoughts that run around in your mind as you come to terms with the fact that you just wasted money you don’t have, on something you don’t need.

This is a textbook example of Direct Marketing, as described in the Consumer Protection Act (the Act).

Now that you know what Direct Marketing is, and how easily you could fall for it, you might wonder if you have any say after the fact, you know, just for in case you happen to lose all self-control again.

There is good news – you are protected under the Act in the event you enter into a sale or credit agreement that came into existence at the hand of Direct Marketing.

A term that is also defined in the Act is “cooling-off period”; this is your most important weapon in protecting your rights – and pocket – when it comes to Direct Marketing.

In terms of the Act, you will be given five business days to cancel the agreement you have entered into, without reason or penalty. This period will start running from the date you entered into the agreement, or the goods, in terms of the agreement, were delivered to you.

If you have given the supplier notice of your cancellation within the above period, they will have to return any payment received within 15 business days. This period will start to run from the day they receive your notice of cancellation, or the day on which you returned the goods.

The supplier may not attempt to collect any payment from you as penalty for cancellation of the agreement, except if you have opened and started using the goods.

Rose might still be lurking around every corner of every mall you will go to for the rest of your life, but now, at least you know that you are protected.

Direct Marketing

If you would like to read the applicable sections of the Act for yourself:
– Section 16: Cooling-off Period
– Section 32: Direct Marketing
– Section 20(6): The right of the supplier to impose a charge for goods returned

About The Author

Stefan Dorfling

Stefan Dorfling hails from a small town in the Eastern Cape that you probably haven’t heard of before. His first brush with the law was wholly legitimate: when his LL.B studies commenced at the UFS. Stefan is currently an attorney in Pietermaritzburg, and specialises in debt collection, credit agreements and other matters of a judicial nature.

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