Ina Opperman
Business Journalist
4 minute read
11 Mar 2021
3:39 pm

Know your rights when buying on Facebook

Ina Opperman

If you bought something from an individual, as opposed to a company, you may not have the same rights you would normally have as a consumer.

Photo: iStock

People began buying stuff on Facebook soon after it opened and Facebook now even has Facebook Marketplace where you can buy just about anything, except animals.

People mainly sell second-hand goods there, but many companies have also started using this platform to direct you to their websites.

Not all experts agree that Facebook is a website that falls under legislation protecting consumers, such as the Consumer Protection Act and the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act.

However, buying on Facebook is here to stay and if you want to buy goods that you see there, you can take certain steps to stay safe and get value for your money.

ALSO READ: Online scammer ‘vanishes’ after Mpumalanga man deposits R150K for bakkie

Electronic Communications and Transactions Act

This act requires online sellers to give:

  • The full name and legal status of the business, street address, telephone number and email address so that you have someone to contact if you need to.
  • Information about how to pay with a credit or debit card or a direct electronic funds transfer and the full banking details.
  • A time when your goods will be delivered.
  • More information about the returns policy, because you are unable to check the goods before buying them and must be able to send it back if you are unsatisfied with the goods.
  • Details of how your money is paid back and how quickly this can happen. Your money should be paid back when the business receives the returned product.
  • How the business will protect your information, such as your ID number and banking details.

It is important to remember that the invoice must show the full price and include delivery, VAT and all other costs. You must also get the opportunity to check the transaction first. Also never pay money into an individual’s account unless you are sure that you will get what you bought.

ALSO READ: Buying online and staying safe

Consumer Protection Act

This act protects your right as a consumer to choose, return unsuitable or defective goods and to receive safe goods of good quality.

Section 18 covers your right to choose or check something before you buy it. If you buy goods only on the basis of a description or sample, the goods must correspond in all material respects and characteristics to what an ordinary alert consumer would have been entitled to expect.

Section 19 governs your right to delivery of goods or services. It is an implied condition of every transaction that the supplier is responsible for delivering the goods or performing the services on the agreed date and at the agreed time. If not, you are entitled to cancel.

Section 20 protects your right to return goods and receive fair compensation. You can return goods within 10 working days if you could not check it before buying it. This is also applicable to the wrong goods being delivered, if goods you did not buy are delivered or if the goods are not fit for purpose. You can return the goods at the cost and risk of the business. If you did not remove the packaging, the full amount must be paid back. If you removed the packaging, a fair amount can be deducted for repackaging.

Section 41 ensures that false, misleading or deceptive representations cannot be used to make4 you buy something.

Section 47 stipulates that a business is not allowed to accept payment for any goods or services if it has no intention to supply them or intends to supply goods or services that are materially different. If the product is out of stock, the business must pay your money back.

Section 55 protects your right to safe, good quality goods. Goods must be reasonably suitable for the purposes for which they are generally intended. It must also be of good quality, in good working order and free of any defects that will be useable and durable for a reasonable period of time.

Section 56 extends an implied warranty of quality and gives you the right to return goods within six months to the supplier on its cost and risk if it does not adhere to the requirements of section 55. The business must repair it or pay your money back.

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