Friday 1 May 2009

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice

On 26th March I asked Lion Motors (Pty) Ltd for prices of parts I wanted for my car. They gave me the prices and told me that they don’t keep the spares in stock, so it would take 3 to 4 days to receive the parts as they had to order them from RSA. They asked me to pay a deposit so that they can place the order with their suppliers.

The following day paid a deposit of P1,000 for them to order the parts. I was told that the order would be placed when the original person I spoke to was back the following Monday, 30th March.

When I called on the Monday I was told that the order had not yet been placed because the original employee (the only person one who knew how to drive the system) was still not back from sick leave. I was asked to call back in the afternoon as she was expected sometime during the day. I called again that afternoon and I was informed that she was not yet back and that still the order has not been placed. This time around, the supervisor told me that they are trying to get someone to assist them with the system to enable them to place the order.

The same day I spoke to a manager who eventually told me that they were still awaiting someone from head office to assist them with the system.

On the morning of 1st April I was told that they had someone to sort out the system and were in the process of placing the order. I called again the following morning but still no orders were made and when I expressed my dissatisfaction, they were very rude and in the end they slammed the phone down on me. I called back that afternoon and asked to speak to the Managing Director so I could complain about their behaviour. I also told him that I was going to cancel the order.

The following morning I called asking for their fax number so I could send a letter cancelling the order. I was told that they were now placing the order but I reminded them repeatedly that I had cancelled the order the previous day. I faxed them a written cancellation the same day and asked them to refund the deposit I had given them.

On 8th April the manager called me to say that the parts have arrived but I told him that I already cancelled the order with them. They now claim that the order was placed before I cancelled even though when I cancelled over the phone he had not yet placed the order. They also claim that as the order was a special one they won’t give me a refund.

Can you help me?

We can do our best but from our initial experience of Lion Motors (who are the local Peugeot dealers) they don’t seem to want to help. We’ve phoned them several times, we’ve explained who we are and that we’re trying to help you but they haven’t even had the courtesy to respond yet.

What you’ve done is great. You explained that you wanted to cancel an order but, most importantly, you put it in writing. It’s not your fault that they have failed to respond and honour their obligations to you.

Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations makes it perfectly clear. They say that it is an “unfair business practice” if a supplier fails “to promptly restore to the consumer entitled to it a deposit” after a deal is cancelled. Obviously the timing is critical. If you had tried to cancel the order after it was placed then you would have difficulty cancelling the order but your case is different. You know that the order hadn’t been placed when you cancelled it so you are entitled to a complete refund immediately.

We’ll write to Lion Motors and explain the law to them. We’ll let you know if we hear anything from them!

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