The Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ms Nomalungelo Gina has warned consumers against the danger and negative impact of buying impulsively, saying it leads to over-indebtedness and dire socio-economic consequences. Gina was delivering a keynote speech at the celebration of the World Consumer Rights Day at the Sun City Resort in the North West today.

The World Consumer Rights Day was marked globally under the theme, Empowering Consumers through Clean Energy Transitions.  However, the South African regulators added another theme, Creating a Fair Marketplace, as a way of reaffirming their commitment to protecting South African consumers.

According to the National Consumer Commission, which spearheaded the celebrations, the theme was a reminder to suppliers of goods and services of their responsibilities when marketing or providing goods and services, to ensure that they do so in a fair and just manner.  World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated across the world on March 15 to raise awareness about consumer rights and needs highlighting that these should be respected and protected.

Deputy Minister Gina emphasised the critical importance of educating consumers to be prudent when making choices to buy products and services.

‘All the actors in this sector of consumer rights must scale up their education campaigns to inform both businesses and consumers about their rights and responsibilities when products are being marketed. We have a responsibility as consumer organisations to police the adherence to regulatory compliance by companies marketing and promoting product sales,” said Gina.

She added that there was a serious need to instil consciousness in consumers to scrutinise the products and services before committing themselves financially.

“The biggest problem is consumers who decide buying through emotions and excitement, and pay no attention to the fine prints and quality inspections. These things tend to catch up with them as the consequences of emotional and impulsive buying, and bad financial decisions, is over-indebtedness and failure to service one’s debts.  In addition, a bad credit score and the repossession of property by the banks have negative socio-economic impact on the consumers, thereby plunging the entire family into difficulties. We must educate our people that debt is not always good,” advised Gina.

She stated that it was imperative for consumer protection authorities to increase their efforts in educating consumers on what to look for before concluding a contract with the companies.

“This is important for consumers, as customers, to be cautious and pay attention to detail in order to inform themselves about the contents of contracts when making purchases, from big items such as buying properties through bonds and vehicle finance, to small items such as a contract with a mobile telephone companies, and clothing store accounts or insurance,” stated Gina.

She also said the high levels of unemployment, particularly amongst the youth and women, was making consumers vulnerable and susceptible to cheap and fake products sold to them by unscrupulous retailers.

Impulsive buying leads to over-indebtedness and negative socio-economic conditions – the Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ms Nomalungelo Gina addressing the World Consumer Rights Day celebration at the Sun City Resort, North West.

Bongani Lukhele – Director: Media Relations
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