ConsumerTalk with Wendy Knowler

At own risk! What you need to know before signing that disclaimer

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler helps shed light on the rights of consumers when dealing with disclaimers and indemnity forms.

Knowler says disclaimers and indemnities protect service providers from liability arising from any injury, theft or harm related to anything they do or don’t do.

Read: Want to get out of your gym contract? Here's why it will probably cost you

She explains that while the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) does not outlaw indemnities, it restricts how companies formulate and enforce them.

Companies are within their rights to indemnify themselves against certain liabilities, as long as they notify consumers properly.

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

The CPA states that unfair clauses - which exempt a company from liability for losses caused by gross negligence, for example - will not be upheld.

The law demands that disclaimers must be written in plain and understandable language.

The consumer must also be given adequate opportunity to receive and comprehend the provisions.

Recap: You're probably reading expiry dates wrong (and wasting food in the process)

Menwhile, CPA specialist attorney Trudie Broekmann says consumers are allowed to scratch out certain clauses in a contract that they don't agree with.

The purpose of the CPA is to protect vulnerable consumers.

Trudie Broekmann, CPA specialist attorney

The purpose of a contract is that we have two parties with equal negotiating power.

Trudie Broekmann, CPA specialist attorney

The CPA requires that an exclusion of liability to be fair, reasonable and just towards the consumer. We're not just looking at the supplier's interest.

Trudie Broekmann, CPA specialist attorney

A disclaimer has a deterrent effect on claims.

Trudie Broekmann, CPA specialist attorney

Take a listen to Trudie Broekmann and Wendy Knowler explains the legal loopholes:

Got a consumer case you need help resolving?

Email: consumer@knowler.co.za, put Cape Talk in the subject line, followed by the issue e.g. cellphone contract dispute.

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