The information and communications technology (ICT) industry and two other sectors will face special investigations by the National Consumer Commission, its head Mamodupi Mohlala says.
The commission, established on 1 April in terms of the new Consumer Protection Act, is meant to police practices deemed unfair to consumers and enforce consumer rights.
Mohlala says the ICT sector would face a special investigation into its practices. The other industries that will be probed are manufacturing and retail, and medical and pharmaceuticals.
Mohlala is a former director-general of the department of communications, a role she used to give telecommunications operators a hard time over their tariffs.
The commission will investigate contractual terms and conditions employed by telecoms companies. Mohlala says she wants to ensure agreements are in plain and simple language.
The renewal of contracts, such as cellphone agreements, will also be investigated, she says, as will tariffs. “We will look into issues of pricing. The act gives the commission the power to look at the fairness of pricing and issues of installation and repair times.”
According to Mohlala, the commission received 250 complaints and just over 1 000 queries in its first four days in operation. She says she expects to receive about 2 000 complaints a month from consumers.
Mohlala has also promised the commission will deal with consumer complaints quickly. She says a complainant will get an audience with the commission within six weeks of lodging a complaint. Should that not resolve their issue to their satisfaction, she says the commission will undertake to complete its processes (in most cases) within a six-month period.
An opt-out register, allowing consumers to elect not to receive unsolicited marketing material, will be available in about two months — later than originally planned. “We expect to create an interim measure.” — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral