Shoddy service, bad quality products, broken promises and contract foul-ups are just some of the problems consumers face. But South African consumers’ rights are protected by law, which means they can demand redress.By law, South African consumers have the right to be heard, to safety, to redress, to be informed, to choice, to consumer education, to the satisfaction of basic needs, and to a healthy environment. (Image: Caden Crawford, CC BY-ND 2.0, via Flickr)There are various pieces of powerful legislation in place to protect consumers, the most important being the Consumer Protection Act (Act 68 of 2008) and the National Credit Act (Act 34 of 2005). Consumers also have the right to information and education.Useful websitesNational Consumer CommissionNational Consumer TribunalNational Credit RegulatorSA Consumer ComplaintsHellopeterConsumer rightsThe Consumer Protection Act outlines key consumer rights, including the right to:Be heard: Consumers have the right to be heard on issues, policies, plans, programmes and decisions which affect them.Safety: Consumers must be protected against flaws or hidden dangers in products or services.Redress: When you are sold an inferior product or service, you have the right to demand a replacement or a refund.Be informed: Consumers have the right to be given all the information they need about a product or service.Choice: Consumers have the right to a variety of products and goods that are competitively priced.Consumer education: Consumers have the right to education that will empower them to make informed choices.Satisfaction of basic needs: Consumers have the right to basic goods and services for survival, such as food, water, education and sanitation.A healthy environment: Consumers have the right to a physical environment that will enhance the quality of life.ComplaintsThere is no need to accept faulty products or shoddy service. First try to settle your complaint directly with the business or service provider. If that fails, you can take it up with your Provincial Consumer Affairs Offices. These offices, in all nine provinces, offer advice, education, information, and protection.There is also a range of statutory, industry and other consumer bodies.Provincial Consumer Affairs OfficesThere are Consumer Affairs Offices, run at provincial level, to provide consumers with protection, information and advice. You can approach a Consumers Affairs Office to intervene in disputes over contracts, quality of products or services.You should first complain to the branch manager or customer care office of the business concerned before asking the Consumer Affairs Office to intervene. These offices have trained staff to advise you on your rights as consumers. You may also want to contact them to find out if a company you intend doing business with has a previous history of complaints against it.Other consumer organisationsNational Consumer CommissionSet up to administer the Consumer Protection Act which came into effect in April 2011, the National Consumer Commission is an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry. Responsible for publishing consumer alerts (which warn consumers of scams or unfair business practices) and prohibition notices (business practices declared unfair in terms of the Unfair Business Practices Act, and therefore prohibited by the Minister).Website: www.nccsa.org.zaSouth African National Consumer UnionSancu is a voluntary independent body that represents millions of consumers. Its membership extends from the grassroots organisations, such as the Women’s Agricultural Unions and the National Council of Women of South Africa, to influential bodies such as Democratic Nursing Organisation and the Association of Retired Persons and Pensioners.As an independent consumer organisation, Sancu works with manufacturers, retailers, the agricultural sector, the South African Bureau of Standards and government.The union recommends that consumers make a genuine attempt to solve complaints themselves. If the problem remains, take it up with the relevant Provincial Consumer Affairs office.Website: www.sancu.co.zaAssociation for Savings and Investment South AfricaASISA represents the majority of South Africa’s asset managers, collective investment scheme management companies, linked investment service providers, multi-managers, and life insurance companies.The association aims to promote a culture of savings and investment in South Africa by working with regulators, government and its members. It has a consumer focus, and works to ensure the sustainability of the industries it represents.Website: www.asisa.co.zaFinancial Services BoardThe Financial Services Board (FSB) is an independent institution established by statute to oversee the South African non-banking financial services industry in the public interest.The FSB is committed to promoting and maintaining a sound financial investment environment in South Africa. It regulates insurers, intermediaries, retirement funds, friendly societies, unit trust schemes, management companies, and financial markets.Note that complaints against service providers are primarily dealt with by bodies set up specifically for this purpose, and not by the FSB.Website: www.fsb.co.zaDownload a guide to handling consumer complaints through Provincial Consumer Affairs Offices [PDF]Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and ArbitrationThe CCMA is a dispute resolution body established in terms of the Labour Relations Act (Act 66 of 1995).It is an independent body and is not controlled by any political party, trade union or business. It works to conciliate and arbitrate workplace disputes, as well as facilitate the establishment of workplace forums and statutory councils.Website: www.ccma.org.zaThe Public ProtectorIf you have any complaints about government services or conduct, you might find help from the Public Protector.Website: www.pprotect.orgToll-free number: 0800 11 20 40Brand South Africa reporterReviewed: 10 July 2012Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Stars Over Ohio: Mariah Cox, Zane Trace, Dakota McKee, Ridgemont, Sam Robertson, Buckeye Central, Bailey Gompf, Mt. Gilead The Hardy Boys entertained the crowd Shelby Furer State VP Star Americans Dakota McKee, Austin Wippel, Westfall, and Jakob Wilson, Fairbanks Matthew Hiser, Dist. 9 President Natalie Miller, State Secretary Aaron Klohn, from the Clyde Chapter, learns to juggle on stage. FFA members participate in a challenging game of Simon Says. Curtis Zimmerman, keynote speaker FFA members are following the instructions of speaker Curtis Zimmerman Braden Thatcher, Lincolnview Chapter, entertains the crowd New FFA chapters were recognized Andrew Gifford with CROP/Church World Service talks about how FFA chapter donations will help other. FFA chapters and members donated over $16,000 to CROP/Church World Service and nearly $51,000 to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Micah Mensing Teachers and administrators of Ohio’s state officers were recognized President Sydney Snider welcomes Ohio FFA members Ray Stahl, from Buckeye Central, shoots baskets in the trade show. Jerrett Crowthers, from the Edgewood/Butler Tech FFA (and also a 2015 student reporter) presented the Creed. Luce Perez presented the official Spanish verso of the FFA Creed. Thomas Shaw demonstrated his love of Taylor Swift and dance moves on stage. Student reporter Jarrett Crowthers got to interview MIss Ohio and Roxy Miss Ohio showed she is a talent ventriloquist Elizabeth Corwin shared her talent with the crowd Versailles FFA was the top chapter in Community Development Ridgemont FFA was the top chapter in Chapter Development Mowerystown FFA was the top chapter in Student Development Ohio’s Gold Rated chapters were recognized
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Matt ReeseThis summer Governor John Kasich signed an executive order targeting eight sub-watersheds in the western basin of Lake Erie that will be considered for designation under state law as “Watersheds in Distress.” These include: Platter Creek, Little Flat Rock Creek, Little Auglaize River, Eagle Creek, Auglaize River, Blanchard River, St. Mary’s River, and Ottawa River.To officially make the “distressed” designation, the governor-appointed Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission (OSWCC) needs to approve it. The OSWCC met and decided that more information was needed to make the decision and yesterday the OSWCC’s Western Lake Erie Basin Watershed In Distress Task-force/subcommittee met at the Ohio Department of Agriculture to allow members to share their thoughts.“Ohio is being watched almost nationwide on how this sub-committee is going to handle this distressed watershed designation. It has implications far beyond the western basin of Lake Erie,” said Tom Price, chair of the OSWCC. “I look at this as a great opportunity for us to bring together the very best minds and the very best ideas. There is no question that we all want clean water for everyone, but this problem didn’t happen in a short period of time. I want to get a bigger picture of this so we can make a real change. At the end of the day I think we need more input than putting together x number of nutrient management plans. We are not doing our task if we don’t look at all of the things involved.”Though there is no timeline in place, the Task Force is charged with either recommending to the OSWCC to move forward with the distressed designation for the suggested eight sub-watersheds, not recommend the distressed designations or suggest modifications to the designations.At the meeting, Cathann Kress, dean of the Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, gave an overview of the wide range of water quality related research taking place in Ohio.“There are a few things we know from the research, there are a number of things that are rather inconclusive and there are things that we know in some parts of the state but that we don’t necessarily know about in this basin. It is clear there are a number of dynamics that are playing into this,” Kress said. “With the practices that have been implemented it appears that we are directionally correct, but it is very difficult at this point to determine how long this progress will take.”In addition, Nikki Hawk, president of the Ohio Association of Soil and Water Conservation District Employees with the Mercer Soil & Water Conservation District, shared her thoughts based on her experiences working in the Grand Lake St. Marys Watershed since it received a distressed designation in 2011.“Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Ohio have always been, and will continue to be, locally led and I think it will look very different in each district and each watershed how things will be implemented. The distressed designation for Grand Lake St. Marys definitely changed the way Mercer County [SWCD] did business and the way we interacted with producers. In some ways I would say the distressed designation for the lake was a blessing in disguise, and in some ways I would say that you cannot take any successes we have had there and extrapolate that you would have the same success within the basin. We are dealing with two very different issues and different scales,” Hawk said. “In Grand Lake, it is 57,000 acres as opposed to the proposed eight sub-watersheds of nearly 1.8 million acres. Also, the distressed designation for Grand Lake was very different from the way the proposed distressed designation is for these eight sub-watersheds. Grand Lake had very specific requirements about when manure could not be applied, there was a requirement for four months of storage and there was a requirement for a nutrient management plan. As I manage my staff and work with partners in Mercer County, I do think that the nutrient management plan has been an excellent tool. My staff has been to every farm and we are now in the second round going around and updating all of those plans. My concern deals with the scale and the inconsistency between the Grand Lake distressed rules with the designation being proposed by the governor.”Nikki Hawk, president of the Ohio Association of Soil and Water Conservation District EmployeesHawk pointed out the Grand Lake distressed designation was focused on manure and the Lake Erie designations include commercial fertilizer — a very different scenario. She pointed out that research shows water quality is heading in a positive direction since the distressed designation in Grand Lake Saint Marys, but making comparisons may not be fair.“I think that [nutrient management plans were] a very important piece of the puzzle. I do not think you can say we’ll see the same improvement with water quality with nutrient management plans in Lake Erie. I think it is more than that. We had upwards of $25 million in direct cost share dollars to our producers to install things like manure storage and other practices,” Hawk said. “One thing I would propose is that if the OSWCC really thinks this could make a difference in water quality that maybe we start with one or two watersheds, develop a blueprint as to how it would work and then slowly phase in how it would work in other watersheds, tweaking all of those pieces to the puzzle as we move along.”Hawk also cautioned against expectations for a quick fix if nutrient management plans are required in the eight sub-watersheds.“I don’t want anyone to think that by requiring nutrient management plans we will have a pristine lake tomorrow. It is not going to happen,” she said. “But I also don’t think having a nutrient management plan should be considered a burden to any producer. It is a good management tool to help you move forward.”The task force plans to meet again to continue the discussion in October.
SharePrint Related Share with your Friends:More Taiwan’s Secret Abandoned Theme ParkTry to resist a geocache called, “Taiwan’s Secret Abandoned Theme Park” (GC2GKP2).The difficulty three, terrain four Multi-Cache was hidden by wynando. It entices adventurers with this description: “Destroyed by the 1999 earthquake and left abandoned, this Dutch-themed amusement park is a must visit. Be prepared to feel like Indiana Jones as you venture deeper into the park, walking through thick vegetation and broken remains of the park to try and find the caches. You will be amazed by what you will see here and will wonder what this place used to look like before the earthquake!”Eleven geocachers logged smileys on the geocache since it was hidden just over a year ago. Cachers are advised to wear long pants and bring mosquito spray. For those who complete the cache, the journey into a forgotten world is the reward.Taiwan’s Secret Abandoned Theme ParkOne cacher logged, “This is an unbelievable and incredible cache among the caches I visited. It’s is very unique and classical for all our local geocachers to visit. When we approached the final stage, we intruded into giants’ realm. Visit yourself to experience the wonderful kingdom.”Continue your exploration of some of the most engaging geocaches from around the globe. Explore all the Geocaches of the Week on the Latitude 47 blog or view the Bookmark List on Geocaching.com. If you’ d like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, send an email with your name, comments, the name of the geocache and the GC code to [email protected]
Jonathan A. Wright, the founder of Wright Builders Inc., has worked on two Living Building Challenge projects. Andrew Solem also contributed to this article. Along with his colleague Phil White, Solem led the vetting process for Wright’s two Living Building Challenge projects. This post was originally published in the Spring 2017 issue of BuildingEnergy, a publication of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. Main electric by Square D, Schneider ElectricThe biggest hurdle with electrical components is confirming that they are Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) compliant. RoHS was developed in Europe and is the highest standard worldwide, for lowering hazardous content, including mercury and lead. American specifiers and manufacturers do not generally require their products to comply. Square D is a company that has already changed its manufacturing process so that some of its products meet the RoHS standard. They also have constructed a timeline for when their non-compliant products will be ready for RoHS certification. R-Guard and ConsolideckProsoco is a company that focuses on clean construction products. The Kern Center includes products from Prosoco’s R-Guard line: Cat 5 and AirDam. The Hitchcock Center used the Consolideck product line: ColorHard and PolishGuard and LS/CS. Prosoco products are in some ways the poster child for LBC, in that the entire line of products was stripped of Red List components as a result of the company’s involvement with the Bullitt Center in Seattle. The company is very forthcoming, offers great support, and generates keen interest. Spectrem 1 and 2 by Tremco SealantsWith the newest addition of Red List chemicals, LBC 3.1, it has become very difficult to find compliant sealants and adhesives. Fortunately, Tremco has taken the initiative to push and create LBC-compliant products. Interior shades by MechoShade SystemsWhen these projects were coming to a close, interior shades rose to the top of the priority list. MechoShade offers a Declared shade, meaning that any LBC project team can easily document and use it, along with other options for Red List-free shades. Solar panels by SunPowerThere are now multiple companies that will install solar panels on your building. The project teams chose to use panels from SunPower because they have proven themselves as a company fighting for sustainability. The high output, longevity, solid warranty, and durability of the panels all contribute to the value. These panels have Cradle to Cradle Certification at the Silver level, giving the project teams confidence in their selection. Carpet tile by Shaw Contract GroupShaw has created a carpet tile that is 100% recyclable. Wright Builders worked with Shaw to identify a good solution for recycling the installer’s carpet scrap. They arranged to send what little scrap was generated back to a facility capable of making new backing and new fiber from the returned materials. Adhesives manufactured by Loctite/OSIThese products included: PL 300 Foam board adhesive; H2U Window, Siding, Door, Trim Adhesive;F-38 Drywall and Panel Adhesive; SF-450 Subfloor Adhesive; and SC-175 Draft and Acoustical Sound Sealant. Loctite and OSI have demonstrated excellence in the Living Building Challenge. The vetting teams for both the Kern Center and Hitchcock Center found success when vetting products from these manufacturers. Liquid Nails 903This common product can be found in nearly every home improvement store across the country. Having been vetted under LBC 2.1, homeowners can be confident in the safety of the chemicals used in this adhesive product. It is no small achievement that this product is LBC 2.1 compliant. Better products over old standbysThe purpose of the Living Building Challenge is not to keep us up at night, but to change the way products are made and used so that we may build and experience our world in a healthier, more resilient and environmentally responsible way. To that end, even if we are not building our next project for LBC certification, we can still choose to use better products in lieu of our old standbys. These everyday decisions will lessen toxin loads and support companies that are trying to make positive change and grow their influence in the marketplace.Enter stage right: not the Red List but its country cousin the Ready List — a specialized private list developed by Wright Builders to answer the question: What can we do today? It is an eclectic range of off-the-shelf products that professionals in our industry can examine and adopt right away to make incremental but meaningful change.The following suggestions from Wright Builders Inc., reviewed by the design and materials collaborators on these projects, are based on our 30-month intensive LBC odyssey. Many of these we have already included in our more conventional projects. We are not vouching for perfection here — only indicating that these are best-in-class for now, and a great place to start. The Hitchcock Center for the Environment and the R.W. Kern Center at Hampshire College are within a quarter mile of each other in Amherst, Massachusetts. As the construction manager for both buildings, Wright Builders learned quickly what a complex process this is. More than 1,400 submittals and products were vetted by the teams. We also learned that with good communication systems, persistence, and careful record-keeping, the teams could advance the knowledge base significantly.The vetting process for the Hitchcock Center occurred just enough later to benefit fully from the lessons learned during construction of the Kern Center, bypassing some blind alleys in favor of proven materials that would pass vetting. Lighting fixtures by FluxwerxLight fixtures can be some of the most difficult products to vet for an LBC project. Every single part of the fixture needs to be accounted for, from powder coating to the coating on the lenses inside the fixture. Fluxwerx was engaged with the vetting team to break down components of the fixtures. This new generation of lighting specifically designed for LEDs is versatile, efficient, and beautiful. Wires and cables by General Cable and BeldenGeneral Cable and Belden succeeded where others have failed. Although they are not the only companies who make LBC-compliant wires and cables, they were both able to supply the required amount of LBC-compliant wire and cable needed for the Kern Center and Hitchcock Center. Yes, the Living Building Challenge is OverreachingLiving Building Challenge 2.0 ReleasedFirst Living Building Challenge Projects CertifiedEarly Lessons from the Living Building ChallengeTeaching Deep Green by Building ItToxic and Non-Toxic Houses A continuous collaborationFundamentally, the vetting process is a continuous three-way collaboration between architect, construction manager, and materials consultant. Early on, I asked Charley Stevenson of Integrated EcoStrategies, who would actually be accountable for securing materials documentation, to join the team, and he said we would collaborate. Hmmm. Who, and how, exactly?The process evolved through months of weekly calls, hot lists, and dead ends. Together with Kern Center architects Bruner/Cott and the Hitchcock Center’s DesignLab, we all lent significant effort and creativity to the process. Charley was so right — everyone has to get under the weight of it to avoid wasting time and resources.From the first days of concept design, the design teams looked at the available materials within 500 kilometers, evaluated these potential palettes, and developed the building designs using materials highly likely to be accepted. This drove us toward regional and local sourcing of all material, especially timber, lumber, and stone.The materials and substances that must be eliminated or reduced are on the LBC Red List. They include known carcinogens, endocrine disrupters, and contributors to a wide variety of diseases and conditions, the effects of which have been largely borne by the manufacturing and skilled trade workforce for centuries.Wright Builders Inc. and the teams worked under the Red List 2.1 (now augmented and supplanted by later versions), which identifies the following material and chemical classes:AsbestosCadmiumChlorinated polyethyleneChlorosulfonated polyethleneChlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)Chloroprene (Neoprene)Formaldehyde (added)Halogenated flame retardantsHydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)Lead (added)MercuryPetrochemical fertilizers and pesticidesPhthalatesPolyvinyl chloride (PVC)Wood treatments containing creosote, arsenic or pentachlorophenolDerived from these are hundreds of other compounds and ingredients, which in turn are being modified and incorporated into still more chemicals — perhaps as many as 200 every day — in American industry. By JONATHAN A. WRIGHTOne of the primary goals of the Living Building Challenge (LBC) is to eliminate the use of known toxins in products installed in the built environment. If it is harmful to life — human, animal or anything else — do not use it if at all possible.In 2016, Wright Builders Inc. completed two Living Buildings, which will be evaluated for certification over the next 18 to 24 months. These projects gave us a unique opportunity to work inside the largely unexplored new world of materials research, vetting, documentation, and advocacy.The International Living Futures Institute has developed a list of worst-in-class chemicals and compounds that are widely used in construction products. We know that the course from first discernment to total ban for DDT took about 15 years; the Red List approach is a quicker, more responsive, advisory process based on a path to better health results. Many of us remember when asbestos was the all-purpose additive in many construction products and have followed its gradual removal with no ill effects on product performance. There are many cases where toxic products are simply not needed. EcoBatts by Knauf InsulationThe project team came across an acoustical issue at the Kern Center. Wright Builders and Integrated Eco Strategy researched and found Knauf Insulation, a company with a proprietary formula which excludes formaldehyde from their insulation. RELATED ARTICLES Manufacturers want inOver the course of these two LBC projects, we at Wright Builders have found that the word is getting out, and that many manufacturers want to be able to participate in the LBC. Paint companies and carpet companies are flocking to be included in specifications. And with each project or consumer purchase, the values of sustainability and resilience are reinforced for those manufacturers who make the commitment.An important connection is created between specifier, designer, builder, and tradesperson around making meaningful change every day. Overall, except for the Kone elevator, none of the products reviewed here come with a significant cost premium. Old habits die hard sometimes, but new habits can sparkle with a little hope, which is always a good thing. Fireblocking foam by Handi-FoamThis is a common product in most building supply stores. Having widely available, LBC-compliant product is great for the everyday buyer. Windows and doors by AlpenThese exterior windows and doors used at the Hitchcock Center are now Declare-labeled products. They have a low U-factor, which makes them attractive to designers aiming for a high performance building. Alpen has a pultruded fiberglass frame system, lots of custom options, and good design support. We have used the 725 series in three different applications with great results. Check out the 925 series and their other products. Expanding foam sealant by Premier Building SolutionsIn any industry, it’s normal for products to be discontinued. In our case, the approved expanded foam sealant was no longer available. Premier Building Solutions was able to provide a Red List-free product with the transparency needed to be approved on extremely short notice. Door hardware: ASSA ABLOYBefore the Living Building Challenge, many of the products made by ASSA ABLOY were already compliant. ASSA ABLOY was very diligent with transparency and is constantly working on improving their products. They are based in New Haven, Conn. Stonetech Bulletproof sealant by LaticreteThere are multiple LBC and Red List compliant stone sealers on the market. What sets Laticrete’s Stonetech Bulletproof apart is the extremely low VOC. A total of 12g/l makes this a smart choice when thinking about off-gassing. PolyWhey by Vermont Natural CoatingsVermont Natural Coatings is a small, regional company that makes great finishes using local whey by-product generated during the cheese-manufacturing process. We like this product for its low stink, local availability, ease of application, and durability. Our teams could sit down in the building for coffee or lunch near these applications and experience no smells. Almost weird — and of course, wonderful! Electric elevator by KONEThe hydraulic fluid used in traditional elevators is full of Red List chemicals. KONE manufactures an electric elevator which performs just as well as a hydraulic elevator. This product uses 40% less power than a hydraulic unit, and its mechanisms free up some of the space usually allocated to a machine room. It provides equal performance without harmful chemicals. The Hitchcock Center for the Environment at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., incorporates timber components manufactured by Nordic Structures.Paint by ECOS Paints and Benjamin Moore PaintsECOS Paints was one of the first options for Declare labeled paint, leading to its use at the Hitchcock Center. We also vetted several Benjamin Moore paints for the Kern Center. The Benjamin Moore paints, which are readily available nationwide, have recently been added to the Declare list of pre-approved products. However, in order to avoid using Red List products, careful attention should be paid to the contents of tints. Glue-laminated post and beam by Nordic StructuresThe post and beam structures inside the Kern Center and the Hitchcock Center are made from black spruce lamination sustainably harvested in Canada. Nordic Structures can make a structure in any shape as long as it can fit on the bed of a truck. Both buildings took advantage of this sustainable and beautiful product. Design, fabrication, and installation were done by Bensonwood for the Kern Center and Architectural Timber and Millwork for the Hitchcock Center.