Bad service and defective products – these are the biggest consumer complaints in South Africa

The Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman (CGSO) has released its latest report, detailing the biggest complaints South African consumers have had in 2018.

For the first quarter of 2018 the office opened 1,495 new cases, with the highest number being reported in March (524).

The majority of complaints relate to the right to demand good quality service and goods that become defective within the first six months.

Excluding those cases that were out of jurisdiction, withdrawn, duplicated or non-referred, the outcome was favourable for consumers in 67% of cases, with 57.3% being fully upheld and 9.6% being partially upheld and assistance provided.

However, it is still concerning that in 12.4% of cases, the outcome was negative for consumers due to non-cooperation from suppliers, the ombudsman said.


In addition to reporting non-cooperative suppliers, the CGSO also report trends to the regulator to assist the to identify any systemic market conduct issues.

It identified three such trends at the beginning of 2018:

Directory supplier

Consumers are persuaded to enter into a fixed term agreement under the pretence that they are contracting with Telkom to receive a free service. They later discover that contrary to its advertisements, the company has no relationship with Telkom and that they are obliged to pay for the service.

Online suppliers

Complainants order and pay for goods from the supplier’s online store but the supplier has in several instances failed to deliver the goods and has to date failed to refund the complainants. The supplier is not co-operating with our office.

Lay-by supplier

Complainants bought goods in terms of a lay-by agreement and made payment in periodic instalments. Complainants returned to the store to collect their goods or make further payments only to discover that the store had closed down without notifying them.

Read: These are the most complained-about insurance companies in South Africa

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Bad service and defective products – these are the biggest consumer complaints in South Africa