Consumer rights must include awareness and enforcement

When a product does not work properly or a service provider does not deliver as expected, indignant consumers are quick to assert that they know their rights, but they often do not.

Cornellé van Graan

Consumer rights must include awareness and enforcement

“Most people are simply too busy to find out what their rights really are and tend to rely on assumptions, advice from a friend or colleague, or a vague recollection of something that they had heard or read,” says Cornellé van Graan, chairperson of the Direct Selling Association of South Africa (DSASA).

This month which celebrates World Consumer Rights day, Ms. van Graan would like to bring awareness of the consumer rights that are emphasised in a sector that is growing rapidly and has contributed nearly R13 billion to the South African economy in 2016.

Direct selling is attracting entrepreneurs, with established social networks of likeminded people and who require the flexibility of working for themselves. Of the over 1.3 million independent direct selling resellers, nearly a million are independent female business owners and 86% are black.

“It is a dynamic, growing industry which can only be sustainable if consumers have confidence in the professionalism, customer service and business ethics of the resellers and the direct selling companies which they represent.”

For this reason, the DSASA is uncompromising regarding its Code of Ethics, a legally binding document that members and their resellers are obliged to comply with as a condition of membership.

“The Code has been in place for a number of year,” says Van Graan. “The focus now is on increasing awareness of the Code, so that consumers are aware of their rights and independent resellers are aware of their rights and responsibilities. It is also very important for consumers and resellers to know what to do if the Code is not being adhered to.”

The Code protects resellers and consumers by, amongst other provisions, ensuring that member companies provide:

· resellers with accurate information about products and services;

· sufficient and ongoing training to resellers on product information

· sufficient and ongoing training to resellers on ethics and marketing practices.

It also requires resellers to:

· Respect customer wishes to discontinue a product demonstration or sales interaction;

· Ensure product and service rates, descriptions and claims are accurate;

· Provide a receipt to the consumer allowing the consumer to cancel any purchase order of products or services within at least five working days from the date of purchase and receive a full refund.

For the full Code of Conduct visit:

Van Graan is quick to point out that the Code is more than words on a website – it has teeth, specifically to those companies belonging to the Direct Selling Association of South Africa who would ensure enforcement in cases where the Code is not being adhered to.

“Obviously the first port of call in a dispute is the reseller. If he or she is unable to resolve the issue, it can be escalated to the related member company, failing which the DSASA should be contacted by E-mail at for an unbiased assessment of the issue and steps for remedying the issue, if required.”

The continued growth of direct selling in South Africa means more consumers will be buying more products and services from more independent resellers, more often. The Code ensures that these transactions are professional and ethical and that both consumer and reseller are protected if the Code is not adhered to.

To find out more about direct selling and the Direct Selling Association of South Africa visit: