Thursday 17 December 2009

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

In January 2009 I bought a bed from Supreme at BBS on credit over 12 months, paying P750 per month. I paid P3,500 and the balance remaining was P5,000. I didn't manage to pay for 5 months and they told me they would come and pick the bed and sell it. I agreed and they took the bed in August.

In November I found out they took me to ITC and I'm still expected to pay the balance of P5,000. I spoke to the manager and she said the bed was sold for P600 because I had used it. So I was wondering why they didn't take me to ITC without taking the bed am I supposed to pay the balance of the bed that I am not using?


I‘m sorry but you did still owe them P5,000 when they reclaimed the bed. The bed is now second-hand and there’s no way anyone would have paid the full balance of P5,000 for it. Remember that the actual value of the bed was nowhere near the P8,500 you were paying for it. The original cash price was probably only half that. Take off the store’s profit and then the depreciation after nearly a year’s use and it’s likely it was only worth perhaps P1,000 at most when the store took it from you. It’s therefore not surprising that they only raised P600 for it when they sold it.

You still owe them the difference between the outstanding credit balance, minus the money they sold it for and probably PLUS any costs they incurred by reclaiming the bed from you. However, the numbers you’ve given us don’t quite add up correctly so it might be worth double-checking them before you settle. It’s also worth looking at your original credit agreement to see what they were entitled to do and to make you pay for.

This is an example of why we are so opposed to buying furniture on credit. You pay a vast sum for something that’s simply not worth the credit price. If you then have problems repaying you are still required to pay off the total price you agreed to. If you then have the item repossessed you could actually ADD to the amount you owe and you end up with nothing to sleep on.

It’s unbelievably important to read a credit agreement BEFORE you sign it. Sit down, read it carefully and think about the worst that could happen during the term of the agreement. Can you really take the risk?

Unfortunately it’s very unlikely that you can avoid paying this amount. However, if you send us the details we’ll approach Supreme and see if they can be flexible. It’s nearly Christmas so perhaps they’ll be feeling some good will?

One last point. Someone got your bed for P600. See how cheap second hand items can be? Everyone should consider second-hand items, they’re a very good way of getting perfectly good things at incredible prices.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

[This is an update to a letter we published a few weeks ago. A consumer bought a laptop from a computer store and within a few days found a crack in the screen. The store said the warranty didn’t cover physical damage and all they could do was send it away to South Africa for assessment to see if the customer had damaged it or if it was a manufacturer’s fault. Later we received this email.]

I went to the store last week and I was shown a report saying the laptop had been subjected to physical damage and there was therefore no warranty. They gave me no explanation to support the report which shows it was done the date I went there on the 2nd December 2009. The guy got angry with me and took the report and refused to give it to me it. He then said that I have tarnished the image of his company and there is no way he can help me because the story is already in the media.

This is very suspicious, don’t you think? They refused to give the consumer a copy of the report that suggested he had damaged the laptop? Why would they do that? Are they trying to hide something from him? It’s simply not good enough. If the customer is going to be liable for the repair costs he has a right to know why, don’t you think? It’s only fair and reasonable.

So what do you think about us tarnishing the image of the company in question? I think that would be difficult considering that we didn’t name them, don’t you?

We phoned the company, which I’m now happy to name as Micro-IT, and asked them about the situation. Unfortunately their immediate response was that Consumer Watchdog ALWAYS takes the customer’s side of any argument (not true, see the story above) and they weren’t willing to help us.

A little later we heard from the consumer again. It seems that someone from Micro-IT phoned the consumer’s employer and threatened them because the laptop had actually been paid for by the employer. Apparently Micro-IT are planning to sue the employer as well as Consumer Watchdog for damaging their reputation, but I’m not sure this is possible. This is the same Micro-IT that was prosecuted for selling pirated software in February this year. Can we tarnish that sort of reputation?

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