ONLINE SALES – Understanding the Consumers Rights and the Seller’s Obligations

As South African businesses grapple with the new realities brought about by the corona pandemic and lockdown and with future trade that looks increasingly more digital due to increased social distancing rules, shifting sales to online platforms is now a necessity for retail businesses.

Once a retailer has set up an online platform and online payment system, it is crucial to ensure that the platform/website contains the necessary legal disclosures to avoid falling foul of the Consumer Protection Act and the Electronic Communications & Transactions Act, which could result in consumer claims, complaints and returns. It is also important to know what types of businesses do not need to comply with these rules.

Businesses that sell goods or services to the end consumer online, or even market them online, must make several disclosures to the consumer before a transaction can be lawfully concluded online.

In addition, a consumer has the right to cancel the sale and obtain a full refund within 7 days of receipt of the goods or, in the case of services, 7 days after the conclusion of the sale. There are various exceptions to this including groceries, perishables, financial services, imported goods subject to exchange rate fluctuations, personalised goods; newspapers, magazines and books, CD’s or DVD’s that have been unwrapped by the consumer; accommodation, transport, leisure services and gaming services.

To obtain clear and lawfully binding online terms for your website or for more information, please contact Erika Holmes at Shepstone & Wylie on 082 453 8818 or