Signing a cellphone contract and getting the latest device in your hands is a fairly straightforward process, but things get a little more complicated when you try to cancel it. Let’s take a look at what you need to know and, more importantly, what the law says about cancelling your cellphone contract in South Africa.

What kind of contract is it?

Cellphone contracts are usually fixed-term contracts, which means the agreement between you and the service provider lasts for a legally binding amount of time. The most common cellphone contract period is 24 months.

Can I cancel a fixed-contract before the stipulated expiry date?

Absolutely. As a consumer, your rights are protected by the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), specifically Section 14, which deals with the expiry, renewal and cancellation of fixed-term agreements.

By law, you are allowed to cancel your mobile contract, any time before the agreed expired date mentioned in the agreement, but you have to give 20 business days’ notice in writing. Keep in mind; you don’t have to give any reason at all for cancelling your cellphone contract in South Africa.

Will I be penalised for early cancellation of my cellphone contract?

There will be consequences for early cancellation, but, as the law states, it “may not exceed a reasonable amount”. When it comes to determining what a reasonable amount is, the CPA sets out specific criteria. Factors include:

  • the amount which you are still liable for up to the date when cancelling the agreement;
  • the value of the transaction up to the cancellation date;
  • the cost of the goods which will remain in your possession;
  • the value of the products that you return to the supplier;
  • the duration of the agreement as initially agreed;
  • losses suffered or benefits you enjoyed as a result of entering into the contract;
  • the length of notice of cancellation you provide; and
  • the general practice of the relevant industry. For example, a consumer will be liable to pay all amounts owed up to the cancellation date. This amount includes airtime, SMS and data bundles you already used.
What if I am having issues with the cancellation?

If you receive pushback from a service provider about cancelling your cellphone contract in South Africa, the company charges an unreasonable penalty, or still deducts monthly fees despite cancellation; the first step would be to place your complaint in writing. If the service provider doesn’t resolve the issue, then you can approach the National Consumer Commission (NCC) for assistance. To do this, just download and complete a complaints form, which you will find on the website, and mail it back to the address stipulated.

The NCC is the primary regulator of consumer-business interaction in South Africa, registers and assesses complaints, and investigates alleged misconduct by businesses. The Commission also refers individual complaints to Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) agencies (i.e. Provincial Consumer Affairs Authorities and relevant ombudsman schemes) to be resolved, and represent consumers in the Consumer Tribunal. There is no charge for the NCC’s services.

Make sure you have any necessary documents and relevant correspondence on hand to help strengthen your case.

We’ve Got Your Back!

If you have questions about cancelling your cellphone contract in South Africa, feel free to get in touch with LAW FOR ALL. Our legal professionals can provide sound legal advice and guidance. If a service provider is giving you the runaround and you have trouble cancelling your contract, our lawyers can intervene. If you don’t have legal insurance cover, sign up today!