The NCC is empowered by the Consumer Protection (CPA) to receive complaints of alleged contraventions of the Act by suppliers from consumers, facilitate informal dispute resolution, investigate matters, and take matters to the National Consumer Tribunal (NCT) for adjudication. Every complaint is important to NCC. We exercise our powers as contemplated in the CPA. A consumer complaint must meet certain requirements including proof of transaction, the transaction falls within the jurisdiction of the Commission, and the alleged contravention. Where a complaint meets all the requirements, that complaint will go through different stages, before being referred to the NCT. The process might be shorter if:
• A complaint does not meet all the requirements as per the (CPA),
• The matter has prescribed,
• A supplier resolves a matter, or
• The Commission issues a non-referral.
Upon receipt of a consumer’s complaint,
• The system auto-creates a ticket, and a Consumer receives a reference number.
• The Commission screens the complaint to determine jurisdiction.
• If a complaint has not been facilitated by an Alternative Dispute Resolution for quicker or speedy redress, a consumer will be advised to refer their complaint to the ADR.
• If a complaint falls within the jurisdiction of the NCC and has been through mediation, the complaint will be assessed to determine its completeness. This includes among other things: an offer to purchase, contract, receipts/ invoice, communication with the supplier, other supporting documents, and outcomes of ADR’s mediation.
• It takes us about five (05) business days to complete this stage and refer your matter for further analysis.
During analysis, this is what to expect.
• If there is outstanding information like proof of purchase or a closing letter from the ADR, you will be requested via email to provide that information in five (05) working days.
• If the information is not provided by the consumer, the Commission closes the ticket.
• A consumer will have to file a new complaint.
• When the information is received, we proceed to analyse the complaint and make a recommendation for the proposed outcomes.
• When analysing the matter, we consider the following:
i. Jurisdiction (whether we have powers to attend to your complaint).
ii. Prohibited conduct” / actual violation of the CPA or its Regulations.
iii. Prescription (the cause of action has occurred within 3 years. Consumers are advised to lodge their complaints immediately to afford the Commission opportunity for sufficient time to process and investigate where possible).
Outcomes of Analysis Of Complaints
• The outcomes of our analysis may recommend that we refer your complaint to the supplier, to other regulators, to provincial offices, escalate to the investigation unit, or issue a non-referral.
To Refer Or Not Refer? The Commssion considers the following points
We refer a complaint to other regulators for the following reasons:
• When there is exclusive jurisdiction between the consumer and supplier (where both parties are in the same province).
• When mediation has failed, and the supplier has not adhered to the recommendations of mediation outcome.
We refer a complaint to the Provincial Consumer Affairs for the following reasons:
• Where the supplier has failed to respond to the ADR agents.
Escalation of complaints to the Investigation Unit
Escalation of complaints to the Investigation unit will be identified by the assessment report with recommendations for further intervention. The investigation process and duration are determined by several factors including the following:
1. Complexity of the matter
2. The level of cooperation between the Commission and the supplier
3. The gathering of the information.
The progress of the investigation will be communicated to the consumer.
The Commission issues a non-referral in terms of section 72 (1) (a) of the Act.
• Where goods and services that are specifically excluded because they are regulated by other laws e.g., Financial, and advisory Services, insurance, municipalities, employment contract,
• Where goods and services were supplied not in the ordinary cause of business.
• Where the complaint appears to be frivolous or vexatious; does not allege any fact which if true would constitute grounds for a remedy under the CPA; or is prevented in terms of section 116 from being referred to the Tribunal.
• Where allegations are not substantiated by proof.