Perhaps you don’t need your contract anymore? Perhaps you simply can’t afford it. The good news is that you can cancel the contract, says Amanda Patterson. Find out how.
1. Did you know that The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) allows you to cancel your cell phone contract?
2. Did you know that suppliers have to send you notification 40 to 80 business days before the expiry date of your contract? They cannot renew the contract without your permission.
3. Did you know that suppliers cannot simply change your contract? The CPA overrides other acts if you do not understand the terms and conditions of the contract. (Section 22 of the CPA. Right to information in plain and understandable language)
4. Did you know that you can cancel your contract if you do not understand the agreement? Was this clearly explained to you when you signed the contract? If a contract is not written, or verbally explained, in plain language, it is not a valid contract.
If you do wish to cancel your agreement, remember these points:
· You must give 20 business days’ notice to the provider.
· You still owe the provider any amounts up to the date of cancellation. Suppliers can charge a reasonable penalty for cancellation. Consumer protection regulations say a reasonable charge may not exceed 10% of the amount you would have had to pay over the fixed term.
· Suppliers must refund you any amounts as of the date of cancellation.
Consumer Tip: Did you know that suppliers are illegally selling you prepaid vouchers that expire in 30 days? The National Consumer Commission is taking iBurst, First National Bank, Cell C, Virgin Mobile SA, MTN, Vodacom, and 8ta to task. Your prepaid credits may not expire for three years. iBurst has removed prepaid Data limitations.
Consumer Tip: If you live in Cape Town, a Consumer Tribunal will be open in February 2012.
How can businesses protect themselves?
It makes good business sense for companies to start with clear communications. If that isn’t correctly implemented, everything falls apart. Most legal practitioners are wrong when advising their clients. Companies must take control. Contracts not written in plain language are invalid. This includes customer contracts, employment contracts, and any other documents that may need to be litigated. Company directors, managers, and employees, are as liable as the company for any damages incurred.
Have you seen any of these documents written in plain language? I certainly haven’t. I repeat, if communications are not in plain language, South African consumers can cancel contracts. Which corporate powerhouse will be the first to take its legal firm to the Consumer Commission?