Consumer Act: NCC publishes guide to lodge complaints

2011-08-24 00:00

THE final enforcement guidelines that detail the process by which complaints by aggrieved consumers will be received, investigated and resolved were recently published by the National Consumer Commission (NCC).

The NCC was established to administer the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) 2008.

The CPA gives aggrieved consumers a selection of affordable methods by which to lodge a complaint and obtain redress against a supplier.

Consumers have up to three years in which to lodge complaints against suppliers.

The complaint may be lodged with the NCC, an alternative dispute resolution agent or consumer court, or any other body recognised for this purpose by the CPA.

Lodging a complaint is a simple procedure of completing and faxing or e-mailing the prescribed complaint form to the NCC.

However, the final enforcement guidelines do not contain any turnaround time in which it will deal with a complaint and it is likely that consumers will be frustrated if the NCC does not process complaints efficiently and effectively.

Fortunately for suppliers, every complaint lodged with the NCC is subject to a screening process to determine whether an investigation is warranted.

However, if the NCC refuses to investigate a complaint the consumer may refer the complaint to a consumer court or the National Consumer Tribunal for consideration.

Apart from responding to complaints, the NCC has the power to initiate an inve stigation of any supplier it believes may be engaged in conduct which is prohibited by the CPA.

Claire McGee is Associate Part-ner, Commercial Law Department at Shepstone & Wylie Attorneys.

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