Disgruntled consumers can lodge complaints online

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 24 Oct 2023
The National Consumer Council has introduced a new e-Services portal for consumer complaints.
The National Consumer Council has introduced a new e-Services portal for consumer complaints.

After years of manual forms, the National Consumer Commission (NCC) is going digital with an online consumer complaints portal.

However, the new e-Services portal experienced a slight hiccup, making it inaccessible this morning. Several ITWeb employees attempted to access the portal via Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Firefox browsers, but clicking through to it brought up a message that read: “This site can’t be reached.”

The NCC acknowledged the technical glitch and moved to iron out the issues.

According to an NCC statement, the e-Services portal is part of the first phase of the digitised complaint handling process.

The portal allows consumers to lodge complaints against alleged contraventions of the Consumer Protection Act by suppliers, it states, adding that consumers can file as many complaints as they wish.

Acting national consumer commissioner Thezi Mabuza says consumers often complain about the manual process when they file complaints with the NCC.

“As South Africans are now accustomed to online transactions, we want to make it easier and more convenient for them to file complaints from the comfort of their homes or on the spot. The portal also makes it easy and possible for consumers to log in and view the status of their complaints without contacting the NCC.”

The NCC describes the portal as a consumer complaint-handling process empowered by workflows in the backend and instant notifications to consumers.

Consumer registration is verified through the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and as such, consumers are urged to use correct names and ID numbers as they appear in their ID books.

“Consumers may experience intermittent connectivity during the verification process due to interface with the DHA and are therefore advised to be patient with the process. The NCC is, on the other hand, enhancing the registration process to take the burden of ID verification from the consumer.”

The regulatory body states that to lodge a complaint, consumers will be required to create a profile online, using a valid ID or passport number, e-mail address and mobile number.

The NCC notes it will be able to attend to complaints and engage with consumers as and when there is outstanding information, while resolving complaints through the portal.

For consumers, they can either log into their profiles to view the status of their complaints, or contact the commission for feedback or updates relating to their complaints using one reference number, linked to their profiles. Consumers are also encouraged to give as many details as possible when filing a complaint.

After filing a complaint, the consumer will be kept up to date through e-mail notifications each time their complaints are escalated, until the complaint is resolved.

To accommodate consumers who do not have access to the internet or e-mail addresses, Mabuza notes they can still contact the commission by calling.

“To ensure consumers enjoy their right to be heard, we encourage consumers who do not have access to the internet to utilise our contact centre for assistance. Our agents will create a profile on behalf of the consumer and file the complaint.”

The NCC’s contact centre number is 012 428 7000.