How do you write to comply with the Consumer Protection Act?
There is an Act called the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) No 68 of 2008.Protecting the consumer is a priority in South Africa. High levels of illiteracy and social inequality have brought Plain Language into focus.
Amanda Patterson, the founder of Writers Write and The Plain Language Programme, has been teaching plain language for 10 years. The company’s courses ensure that writing is easy to read. More than 150 of her students have been published using these techniques.
What is Plain Language in the CPA?
Plain Language is writing that allows everyone the right to fair trade. The law protects a consumer’s economic and physical well-being. It gives recourse to consumers if agreements are broken or not clearly explained. The consumer has the right to understand what you say and to trust what you write. The penalty for not being clear could be a fine or a jail sentence.
How is this relevant to business writing?
Consumers must be able to understand written communications. Your loyalty program may no longer comply with the law. Every written thing, including product labels, emails and internal communications, must be clearly written and clearly understood.
How do you comply with the CPA?
Remove ambiguity. Reword legal small print. Ask, ‘Would a reasonable person understand what has been written?’
- Be consistent and comprehensive.
- Have an easy to understand format and style.
- Contain simple vocabulary, clear headings and a phrase-free sentence structure.
A company should:
- Edit existing communications.
- Train staff to write in Plain Language.
- Implement a Plain Language programme.
‘Begin with grammar,’ says Patterson. ‘Plain Language can only be applied when the basics are understood.’
Writers Write promotes plain language writing skills. The company offers Creative Writing Solutions for Business Writing Problems. Clients include major banks, insurance companies and corporations from all sectors, as well as institutions and provincial and national government structures.
Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write – How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme – Writing courses for business, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Writers Write – Write to communicate