The consumer goods and services ombudsman has released its annual report, detailing how South Africa’s biggest companies deal with complaints.
The report found that there was a significant increase in the number of complaints over the past year with 5‚595 cases reported in the 2016/17 – compared to the 3‚495 cases received in 2015/16.
This increase was likely due to increasing awareness among consumers about their rights to approach with complaints, said the ombudsman
As in past years, satellite and telecommunications companies were the most complained about with 1,142 cases.
These were followed by clothing retails stores with 372 complaints, and fitness/gym outlets with 244 complaints.
Speaking at the launch of the report, ombudsman Magauta Mphahlele said that the majority of telecommunications complaints dealt with broken screens and contractual disputes.
Specifically, she indicated that there was still confusion among contract-holders as to when they are allowed to cancel their contracts and the penalties in doing so.
“Consumers don’t understand the cancellation clause in the Consumer Protection Act,” she said.
“They think if they have given the supplier notice‚ then they can get away with not paying a penalty.”
Contract cancellation fees
According to a Tariffic report based on the same timeframe as the above findings, Vodacom was usually the most expensive when it comes to cancellation fees.
Vodacom was the most expensive in 3 out of 4 cases, followed by MTN – while Cell C and Telkom were usually the cheapest.
The cancellation fee that users pay is based on a number of factors, including:
- How much time remains on your contract
- How much you’re paying monthly
- How much the cellphone that you received with your contract costs
- In some cases, an admin fee is charged
Often the most substantial part of this calculation is the paying back of the cost of your handset, said Tariffic.
“It may seem obvious, but you will pay a lot less to cancel your contract as you get closer to your contract expiry.”
Tariffic found that regardless of the contract, it’s not cheap to cancel it.
“The fees you would have to pay for early cancellation show exactly how much you are spending on your cellphone contracts over your contract period. It may not seem too bad on a monthly basis, but it really does add up.”