Frequently Asked Questions

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General Questions

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What is the Competition and Fair Trading Commission and what do you do?

The CFTC is a statutory corporation established to regulate, monitor, control and prevent acts or behaviors which would adversely affect competition and fair trading in Malawi. Our mission is to embed a culture of fair competition and consumer protection in the Malawian society to make markets work well for consumers and the business

We aim to achieve this by enforcing the competition and fair trading laws and any other relevant consumer protection legislation

What the CFTC can't do for you?

We cannot tell you if a trader is good or bad. Likewise, we cannot tell consumers or buyers which traders they should use.

What is the objective of the Competition and Fair Trading Act 1998?

The Act was enacted to provide a legal basis for promoting competition and fair trading and to provide strong incentives for achieving economic efficiency, innovation and ensure that production of goods and services responds to consumer demands.

Do you publish any leaflets or guidance that might assist consumers or businesses?

Yes. These can be downloaded from our Publication pages on this website. Alternatively, you can request copies of leaflets and reports published by CFTC by emailing or telephone +2651774838.

How do I complain about a particular business?

You can contact CFTC offices to lodge a complaint or call +2651774838 or email All complaints will be recorded.

Can you provide advice to businesses?

We have published guidance for businesses on a number of topics. This guidance is available on our publications page. For information on what we can provide advice on, see question 1 above.

What kind of anti-competitive practices are prohibited by Competition and Fair Trading Act?


What are the most common examples of conducts that are prohibited per se under the Competition and Fair Trading Act?

Agreements to fix, directly or indirectly, a purchase or selling price or any other trading conditions; share market or sources of supply; limit or control production, market outlets or market access, technical or technological development or investment; or perform an act of bid rigging.

What is meant by a dominant undertaking or enterprise?

An enterprise would be deemed to be dominant when it possesses such significant market power to adjust prices or outputs or trading terms without effective constraint from competitors or potential competitors.

What are the conducts which could be defined as abuse of a dominant position?

Among others, when a enterprise, whether independently or collectively, directly or indirectly imposes unfair purchase or selling prices or other unfair trading terms on any supplier or customer, limits or controls production, market outlets or market access, technical or technological development or investment to the prejudice of consumers. Abuse may also include refusing to supply to a particular enterprise or group, applying different conditions to equivalent transaction with other trading parties and predatory behavior towards competitors.

Can I make a complaint about unfair trading practice?

Yes, you can report business entities that are not complying with competition and fair trading laws. We will log your information and then analyse the evidence provided. An investigation will be launched when sufficient evidence of contravention has been provided to initially establish a prima facie case.

Is it legal for a trader to have a “Goods once bought are not returnable” policy?

Traders or business entities cannot have signs or policies that state “goods once bought are not returnable” as they imply it is not possible to get a refund or a replacement under any circumstance even where the trader is at fault when this is not the case.

Business entities who have such policies and notices on display either on their trading premises or their stationery such as receipts will be in violation of Section 43 of the CFTA.

What if a trader refuses to issue a refund or exchange on a defective product?

If you approach a trader and they refuse to allow you an exchange or refund, you are welcome to lodge a formal complaint to the CFTC. It is important that such complaints should be supported by a receipt as evidence of purchase.

What should I do if I’ve purchased defective goods but do not have a receipt? Can the trader refuse to deal with my problem?

Not necessarily. Of course, it is important to obtain a receipt for every purchase as evidence in case there is a problem. However, although a receipt is not the only valid proof of purchase.

Do warranties and guarantees expire?

Your rights last for the amount of time that is reasonable to expect given the cost and quality of the item or any representations made about the item. This means that you may still have rights even after the written warranty or guarantee period elapses.

Can I get a refund after changing my mind?

No. There is no provision in the Act that would support such an action and the chances are that you would not get a refund. You may not return the item for a refund if you change your mind and decide that you don’t like or need the goods or discover that the goods are cheaper elsewhere.

What are my rights when I buy goods that aren't perfect?

If your goods have some kind of fault and the trader explained the problem to you before you purchased them, you will not have a right to ask the seller to fix the problem. If there is another problem with the goods then you may be able to ask the seller to fix it. However, if nothing was disclosed with regards to the goods being faulty, you have the right to a full refund or replacement. Supplying such products is a violation of Section 43 of the CFTA.

Can the seller refer me to the manufacturer and ask that I deal with them directly?

No. You are free to ask the seller or the manufacturer to deal with you when you have a problem. The seller may send the goods to the manufacturer for diagnosis or repair, but they cannot force you to deal with the manufacturer directly.

What if I have done something that damaged the goods – can I ask the seller to pay to fix this?

You have certain obligations in relation to the products you purchase. For example, you cannot ask the seller to fix the problem if you have been careless with the goods or caused the damage. You also may not be entitled to ask the seller to fix the problem if you have used the goods abnormally or the damage was caused by someone other than the seller or manufacturer, for example, a third party who installed the goods.

In what condition must the goods that I buy be?

  • The goods must be of merchantable quality – they must meet a basic level of quality and performance, taking into account their price and description. They also should be free from defects that were not obvious to you at the time of purchase.
  • The goods must be fit for their purpose -they should do what they are supposed to do and be suitable for any purpose that you might have made known to the supplier.
  • The goods must match the description you were given or the sample you chose from.
  • You must receive clear title to the goods, including goods bought at auction. In other words, you can expect to own the goods outright and any restriction on ownership should be explained to you beforehand.

These may not apply if:

    • you did not make clear what you wanted done
    • you asked that the materials be used in a way they would not ordinarily be used and you did not like the result

How must the Services that I buy be carried out?

    • Services must be carried out with due care and skill.
    • Any materials supplied in connection with the services must be reasonably fit for the purpose for which they were supplied.

Am I entitled to a remedy for a problem?

If goods or services do not meet a statutory condition or statutory warranty, it is a breach of the contract between consumer and seller. The appropriate remedy will depend on the particular circumstances and may include:

    • repair or replacement of the goods
    • exchange of the goods or re-supply of the services
    • payment for these things to be done, or
    • refund (in some circumstances).

Are there circumstances where I cannot get a refund?

Yes, when you;

    • simply change your mind, decide you do not like the goods or have no use for them
    • have discovered you can buy the goods more cheaply elsewhere
    • examined the goods before buying them and ought to have seen any obvious fault
    • had any defects drawn to your attention before buying (for example when the goods were labelled as seconds and faults were clearly marked)
    • Damaged the good by unreasonable or unintended use.