Deputy minister warns consumers that impulse buying can lead to debt

Deputy minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Nomalungelo Gina. Picture: File.

Deputy minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Nomalungelo Gina. Picture: File.

Published Mar 20, 2023


Johannesburg - The Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition, Nomalungelo Gina, has cautioned customers about the risks and adverse effects of making impulsive purchases, stating that doing so can result in excessive debt and serious socio-economic repercussions.

The theme of this year’s World Consumer Rights Day was Empowering Consumers through Clean Energy Transitions. South African regulators added another theme, Creating a Fair Marketplace, to reaffirm their commitment to protecting South African consumers.

The theme was a reminder to suppliers of goods and services of their responsibilities when marketing or providing goods and services to ensure that they do so in a fair and just manner, according to the National Consumer Commission, which spearheaded the celebrations.

Gina stressed the critical importance of educating consumers to be prudent when making choices to buy products and services.

“All the actors in this sector of consumer rights must scale up their education campaigns to inform both businesses and consumers about their rights and responsibilities when products are marketed.

“We have a responsibility as consumer organisations to police the adherence to regulatory compliance by companies marketing and promoting product sales,” said Gina.

She added that there was a serious need to instil consciousness in consumers to scrutinise the products and services before committing themselves financially.

“The biggest problem is consumers who decide to buy based on emotions and excitement and pay no attention to the fine print or quality inspections.

“These things tend to catch up with them as the consequences of emotional and impulsive buying, and bad financial decisions are over-indebtedness and failure to service one’s debts.

“In addition, a bad credit score and the repossession of property by banks have negative socio-economic impacts on the consumers, thereby plunging the entire family into difficulties. We must educate our people that debt isn’t always good,” Gina advised.

She said that it was imperative for consumer protection authorities to increase their efforts in educating consumers on what to look for before concluding a contract with companies.

“This is important for consumers, as customers, to be cautious and pay attention to detail in order to inform themselves about the contents of contracts when making purchases – from big items such as buying properties through bonds and vehicle finance, to small items such as a contract with a mobile telephone company, clothing store accounts, or insurance.

“The high levels of unemployment, particularly among the youth and women, are making consumers vulnerable and susceptible to cheap and fake products sold to them by unscrupulous retailers,” Gina said.

World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated annually on March 15 to raise awareness about consumer rights and needs, emphasising the importance of these being respected and protected.

The Star

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