When Can My Customer Return or Refuse Their Shed?

A question we are frequently asked is when sheds can be returned under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). There are a number of sections in the Consumer Protection Act that allow consumers to return a shed to the suppliers, but what is important to note is that there is no general right of return.

For example, when your customer buys a shed from you and the next day they regret spending so much money, or they simply do not like their new shed in the morning, they cannot return it simply because they have had a change of heart. Some retailers allow their customers to do this, but it is not their legal right to do so.

A change of heart is not a legal reason to return a shed.

There are very limited circumstances that are discussed below where your customer can return a shed.
Generally speaking there are only four instances when customers can return a shed under the CPA.

1) The Direct Marketing Cooling-Off Period.
In terms of s16 of the CPA, if a consumer has bought a building as a result of direct marketing, then for a period of five days after receiving the shed, the consumer can:

  • return it. •
  • cancel the entire contract without penalty.
  • receive a full refund.
  • the consumer will have to pay the costs to return the shed.

2) Sheds that have not been seen before purchase.
In terms of s20 (read with s19) of the CPA, if a consumer has not had the opportunity to examine or inspect the actual shed before purchase, on delivery of the shed they are entitled to inspect it. If on this initial inspection they find that the shed does not meet the “type” or “quality” they could reasonably expect from the agreement, or if the shed was made in terms of a special or “custom” order, and the shed does not reasonably conform to the specifications of the order, then the consumer can: •

  • refuse delivery.
  • receive a full refund.
  • cancel without penalty.
  • the supplier is liable for the costs of returning the shed.

3) Shed does not meet particular purpose.
In terms of s55(3) (read with s20) of the CPA, if a consumer informs a supplier that the shed is being bought to fulfill a particular purpose, and the suppliers advises that the shed will meet this particular purpose then 10 days after receiving the shed the consumer can:

  • return the shed if it is not suitable for the particular purpose.
  • can cancel without penalty.
  • the supplier is liable for the costs of returning the shed.

It is important to note that despite the above, the consumer is not entitled to return a shed for any of the above reasons (1)-(3) if after having been supplied to a costumer, the shed has been partially or entirely disassembled, altered, added, or combined with other property.

4) Implied Warranty of quality.
In terms of s56 (read with s55) of the CPA, all sheds sold to a consumer are sold with an implied warranty of quality, that cannot be contracted out of or revoked. The warranty gives the consumer the right to receive sheds that:

  • are reasonably suitable for the purpose that they are intended to be used for.
  • are of good quality, free of defects and in good working order.
  • will be durable and usable for a reasonable period of time.

If a shed does not to comply with these requirements then the consumer can, for up to 6 months after receiving the shed:

  • return the shed.
  • get the shed replaced.
  • get the shed repaired.

The consumer can do any of these things without penalty and at the suppliers cost.

However, a consumer will not be able to return the shed because it was defective or not suitable for the purpose if:

Because you have to mention the specific defects, general “voetstoots” clause will be insufficient to get out of the s56 warranty.

A Word on Refunds

Wherever the CPA entitles a consumer to a refund, it must be interpreted to mean that the consumer has the election on how to receive the refund. This means that while refunds as credits are not illegal per se, if the consumer demands a cash refund, you must give it to them. Also in terms of s56, the consumer, not the supplier, has the election on whether to choose the refund, replacement, or repair.

The ECT Act

If you sell sheds online, then there are some extra things to consider. Most importantly the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECT Act) will apply to the transaction. The ECT Act has its own consumer protection provisions, some of which will trump the CPA. Specifically the reasons for returns listed above (1)-(3) do not apply if the ECT Acts provisions apply to the transaction. Instead of these rights of return, consumers have a general right to return (a “cooling off period”) for:

  • seven days after delivery.
  • any reason.without penalty.
  • the consumer will be liable for the costs of returning the shed.

Since the ECT Act has been around since 2002, if you have an online store, your returns policies should already be in-line with these provisions.

Refund Policies

If you are a supplier of sheds, one of the most important things you can do is make sure that your returns policy is in-line with the CPA. A good returns policy coupled with excellent customer services will be essential to avoid complaints to the National Consumer Commissioner.

By | 2018-04-04T16:28:49+00:00 April 4th, 2018|NBSRA Articles|