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Service delivery and COVID-19

Article written by Damian Bothma (Legal Advisor SEESA)

Frustrated, locked down, bags packed but nowhere to go, more and more consumers are making use of online platforms when ordering goods and services.

Although a sigh of relief for some companies feeling the burden of the pressure on the economy, on the downside consumers have made their voices heard reaching out to suppliers on social media platforms, complaining about poor service delivery, as well as delivery periods not being adhered to.

Companies should take note of the following Consumer Protection Act and Electronic Communications and Transactions Act sections when offering their goods or services during the lockdown period.

Section 19(2) (a) of the Consumer Protection Act specifically states the following:

“19 (2) unless otherwise expressly provided or anticipated in an agreement, it is an implied condition of every transaction for the supply of goods or services that—

(a) The supplier is responsible to deliver the goods or perform the services—

  1. On the agreed date and at the agreed time, if any, or otherwise within a reasonable time after concluding the transaction or agreement;
  2. At the agreed place of delivery or performance; and
  3. At the cost of the supplier, in the case of delivery of goods; or

If the supplier then fails to comply with the agreed period in which the goods or services had to be rendered, section 19(6) grants the consumer amongst other rights, the right to cancel the agreement without penalty.

Companies who provide their clients with online platforms to enter into transactions should take note of Section 46 of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, which states the following in terms of performance:

“46 (1) the supplier must execute the order within 30 days after the day on which the supplier received the order unless the parties have agreed otherwise.

(2) Where a supplier has failed to execute the order within 30 days or the 15 agreed period, the consumer may cancel the agreement with seven days’ written notice.

(3) If a supplier is unable to perform in terms of the agreement because the goods or services ordered are unavailable, the supplier must immediately notify the consumer of this fact and refund any payments within 30 days after the date of such notification”

To avoid reputational and financial damage, companies are urged to adhere to promises being made to consumers concerning periods in which goods and services are rendered.

It is highly recommended to duly inform consumers should delivery times be affected due to lockdown.

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