Consumers in South Africa enjoy certain rights which are protected under the constitution. There are also numerous institutions established to specifically deal with matters relating to consumer rights. One institution set up and positioned to look into consumer complaints is the Ombudsman. An Ombudsman is an independent, impartial person with authority and responsibility to receive, investigate or formally address complaints. Here are the available Ombudsman offices in South Africa.
This office resolves complaints to do with banking services and products. The service is free and the only requirements are that it must be a bank issue and the customer must have followed the banks complaint handling procedures before approaching the Ombudsman. Businesses may also lodge complaints provided the business has a turnover of R10 million or less per year.
Community Schemes Ombudsman Service (CSOS) regulates the conduct of parties in community schemes and presides over the regulation, control and quality assurance of all scheme governance documentation issues or complaints. This office also provides stakeholder training, consumer education and awareness for property owners, occupiers and other stakeholders.
The National Consumer Commission (NCC) regulates consumer-business interaction in South Africa. This body conducts investigations into alleged prohibited conduct of suppliers and promotes the resolution of complaints between consumers and suppliers.
This office was established to guide the consumer goods and services industry on expected minimum standards of conduct and resolve disputes between consumers and suppliers. If you have unresolved complaint against a supplier, this is the right office to assist you.
This office was established to resolve complaints from consumers and businesses that are negatively impacted by credit bureau information and disputes with credit providers.
The National Credit Regulator is tasked with carrying out education, research, policy development, and registration of industry participants, investigation of complaints as well as enforcement of the National Credit Act. This office also deals with the registration of credit providers, credit bureaux and debt counsellors.
This Ombudsman’s objective is to consider and dispose of complaints by clients against financial services providers. Any act of omission complained about must have occurred on or after 30 September 2004. The complaint must not constitute a monetary claim in excess of R800 000, unless the responding party has agreed in writing to this limitation being exceeded.
The mission of this organisation is to ensure that there is a fair and stable financial market, where consumers are informed and protected. This is done through enhancing and supporting the efficiency and integrity of financial markets and customers by promoting their fair treatment by financial institutions, as well as providing financial customers with financial education.
Established in 1985, this office mediates in matters of insurance contracts. Policyholders who submit a complaint to the Ombudsman may still decide to follow the conventional civil justice process, although these two processes are not allowed to proceed simultaneously. Key requirement to get assistance from this office is that insurance policies should have been marketed or effected in South Africa.
This independent institution resolves disputes where a deadlock has been reached between the motor and related industries and their customers. While the service is free, should it prove necessary that a technical inspection has to be carried out, the costs incurred during such an inspection will be paid by the complainant.
This independent office was established in 1989 and provides consumers with a free, efficient and fair dispute resolution mechanism. Short term insurance disputes undertaken by this office include motor, house-owners (buildings), householders (contents), cellphone, travel, disability, credit protection insurance and commercial insurance on a limited basis.
This office has been set up to enhance tax administration and provide independent redress channel for taxpayers who have exhausted the normal SARS complaints mechanism. Tax Ombudsman maintains a balance between SARS powers and duties and taxpayer rights and obligations on the other. Tax Ombudsman therefore communicates with SARS officials and has access to SARS system and taxpayer information in order to resolve complaints.
The Health Ombudsman operates under the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA).This office addresses complaints of miscommunication against health practitioners and determines their nature and validity in line with the Health Professionals Act No.56 of 1974.
When confronted with a dispute as a consumer, you can consider the institutions listed above.