Using the tools of government to fight balony

After seeing Tom Maydon post on the Facebook Group about a powerband company trying to peddle its wares through Groupon, it got me to thinking about ways to combat these types of pseudo-scientific crap through the tools already provided to us by our government.

So I went to the companies website where they promote the products they sell. They make alsorts of claims, none with any substantiation, no matter how hard I looked. So I decided to visit the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) website to see how to make a complaint. Its actually very easy and they state pretty clearly what would be considered a valid complain. That powerband website falls straight into that category.

I submitted my complaint.

Now there are other things available to us, I am sure of it. For example, we are, apparently, amongst the best protected consumers in the world thanks to the CPA. I do not have any details as to what the CPA gives us as consumers to fight back against companies who sell “fake” goods. But I am sure there are enterprising skeptics on this baord that would now and be able to point the rest of us to a good resource to understand what our rights are.

There are probably many other resources available to us as consumers and the general public that can help curb these snake oil salesman. We just need to know about them and then use them. My thought was that this thread might be a good place for people to discuss and list such available resources for us to use.

One of the main problems with the ASA is that its jurisdiction is limited to SA. If a website is hosted outside SA, the ASA cannot make a ruling about it, let alone enforce one. Some SA vendors of dubious goods and promises are avoiding the ASA by just these means.

As far as the CPA is concerned, it’s a new bit of legislation that still needs much testing in the courts to iron out its fuzzy edges. Legal precedent is a crucially important source of law in SA. You can read about what the CPA can do for you here.


I have a question regarding the CPA and perhaps someone knows. If I as a consumer buy a product that states it does X, and find as I am using that it does not do that effectively or at all and want to claim my rights under the CPA for (quoted from the linked article above) “…and protection against false, misleading or deceptive representations.” do I need to take the company to court myself or is there some state run body that can receive complaints about it and then persue taking them to court on my behalf?

Yes to the former, no to the latter. As with all civil matters, if it comes to a court case, you’re basically on your own unless you’re party to a class-action suit. However, there are recourses such as the Consumer Commission available to you before contemplating litigation. A court case is always a last resort and any claim you might have will in all likelihood simply be thrown out if you can’t show that you’ve exhausted all other means towards a resolution, the first of which would be to approach the vendor/supplier directly. Unfortunately, these things are dealt with case by case, so you would need to get a large group of complainants first for it to have any significant effect. Even if you did successfully sue a supplier under the terms of the CPA, that would typically only be binding between you and the supplier, meaning that unless the presiding magistrate or judge includes a specific blanket injunction against the supplier as part of the ruling, the supplier can continue doing to others what he did to you.