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The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) came into force during April this year. The CPA provides consumers with various rights in their dealings with you as dealers and or suppliers of goods and or services – the purpose being to protect the individual when doing business acquiring goods and or services.
Unfortunately some of the provisions of the CPA may have unintended negative consequences for the motor industry. Very importantly, the CPA does not leave members without any rights whatsoever. The challenge for members will be to know what their rights are and to know when opportunistic consumers may be “taking a chance” or unintentionally claiming rights in terms of the CPA that they do not actually have.
It is for this reason that the RMI board of directors took a decision to negotiated assistance for its members – to ensure that members are not left unprotected and taken advantage of. The RMI has contracted a firm of attorneys to provide CPA support to RMI members in the form of online training and a support.
This extremely important member benefit will be provided free of charge to paid up RMI members from 1 August 2011 until 31 July 2012. The RMI board of directors elected to fund the benefit from RMI reserves.
Who will provide the CPA support?
The RMI has contracted Robertson Teuteberg Kirk Attorneys (RTK) to assist members with CPA compliance. RTK is a niche law firm that specialises in the law relating to consumer protection, and more specifically the interpretation and application of the CPA. RTK has been assisting the RMI with various matters relating to the CPA for the past year and a half.
Who will qualify for the CPA support?
Only fully paid-up RMI members will be able to make use of the CPA Online Training and Support Services offered free of charge by the RMI through RTK.
CPA online training
The first step of the CPA support service is to provide members with CPA training to give members an understanding of how the CPA will apply to your business and what the implications of the CPA will be to your particular businesses practices.
The training will empower you and your staff – by providing information on the different aspects of the CPA that may have an influence on your business practices. It will also assist you to deal with consumer complaints. If you have the knowledge, you will be able to deal with consumer claims and determine whether a consumer has indeed a right afforded to him or her in terms of the CPA or not.
CPA support service
RTK will provide assistance to you when you have received complaints from consumers alleging non-compliance with the CPA.
So if a consumer alleges any CPA non-compliance, and if despite having done the online training, you are still not sure how to respond to the consumer’s claim or complaint, you can send an email to RTK at firstname.lastname@example.org. One of the RTK attorneys will respond to your query within two business days. It is important to understand that this service does not include representation by RTK until the matter has been finalised.
RTK will assist by giving you an indication as to whether you may face a ruling of non-compliance with the CPA and what options you may have. You will be entitled to raise one email and one telephonic query per month.
If your particular query requires a telephonic discussion rather than an email, you can call RTK on 021 671 4645. They will assist telephonically, as soon as an operator becomes available.
Accessing the online training
The application can be accessed on the site www.legaljunction.co.za.
It is the responsibility of each member to ensure that it has a designated responsible person who will take receipt and care of the password which will be member specific. The first time a member logs onto the site, he or she will access it by providing three things:
1. ID number;
2. the RMI membership number; and
3. the secret password.
The designated responsible person of each RMI member will further be given a second password, which is to be used to access the administrative platform. This password must also be kept secret and it is the responsibility of each member to do so.
When accessing the system for the first time, the member will provide his ID number and RMI membership number and then click on the link below the box requesting the password titled “forgot password”.
The password will then be emailed to the email address provided by the designated responsible person at the RMI member. We do not want to clog up the call centre with individual employees of members calling in for the password, and secondly it will create a security risk if we provided passwords telephonically since verification will be extremely difficult. Forgotten passwords will only be emailed to the email address provided.
I trust that this membership benefit will provide members with much value add to your business and your comments and feedback will be much appreciated.