Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  14 Jan 2011

BUSINESS: Is the Consumer Commission Another CCMA?


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What happens when your deck chair turns into a surfboard and your SUV becomes a submarine? Will the introduction of the Consumer Protection Commission be anything like the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA)?

Many businesses deal with the CCMA, where procedure often means more than truth. Employees flock to the CCMA and employers lose time, and money, in the labour courts. The CCMA deals with over 100 000 cases a year. How many will the Consumer Commission process?

“At least half of all CCMA judgements go against employers, compared to 20% in other countries... no matter how gross the misconduct of the employee.” - Barrie Terblanche, Espresso Business Magazine

Ignorance does not excuse process at the CCMA. Will the Consumer Commission be better equipped? Most people know something about labour law. Fortunately, for business, not everyone knows about the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

“The DTI has no option, but to finalise the regulations in time. There is no provision in the Act for an extension...It is possible...that they will simply be published even though there are errors and those will have to be worked out through the courts, which is not ideal.” - Rosalind Lake of Deneys Reitz Attorneys.

This comes into effect on the 1 April 2011. There is a certain irony in the date - April Fool’s Day.

Address this challenge sooner rather than later. Find out how the Act will change your agreements, advertising, labelling, marketing, public relations, guarantees, and how you handle complaints. Learn to write in plain language to protect your business through clear communication with potential clients. Understand how your employees need to write in order for your business to comply with the CPA. Written communication represents more than 64% of business communications.

With so much of the CPA vague and untried in the courts, many will find themselves before the Consumer Commission. Big Business will lose labour and face huge legal bills testing the new legislation. The CPA does not exclude financial and insurance institutions. Even informal traders will have to comply with the CPA.

It is essential to be creative with brand placement, advertising and promotions. How do you advertise? What are the requirements for your business? How will you create compelling copy within the CPA legislation?

There are many seminars and talks about the CPA. However, the most important aspect of the Act, and the future of doing business, lies in the way you write.

There is no escaping that simple fact.

Every label, guarantee, advert or communication with your client will need to be clear and concise. It is essential to be impossible to be misunderstood. Make sure that you know how to do this.

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