Friday, 1 October 2010

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I used to share a house with a lady and my monthly share of the rent was P1,200 and in the first month I paid her P2,400 (one month’s rent and another for the deposit).

I served notice that I was leaving in August and at some point she told me that I am going to lose my deposit money as I gave her short notice. Later on she apologized and told me she was stressed. I vacated the house on the 4th September. She advertised the house for P1,100 and I suspect she has been cheating me because I have been paying her P1,200 and she is the one who signed the lease before I stayed with her.

She promised to give me back the deposit during the first week of September but she failed. Instead she would send me messages making excuses. Last week she told me that she is expecting money after the 17th. On the 20th she sent me a message saying that her cheque will be ready on the 21st but I didn’t hear any more from her. On the 22nd I went to her to make a follow up on my money but I didn’t find her. Instead I found a gentleman who told me that he is the new housemate and informed me that the latter was not around. I then phoned her and she said ‘where do you expect me to get the money?’ I realized that she is not intending to give me my money.

I hope you will help me.

I’m sorry you’re having trouble getting your deposit back. However you are clearly entitled to have it refunded and your former housemate’s comments are no more than excuses. I suggest that you tell her that she has 7 days to refund you or you will take her to the Small Claims Court for their judgement. So far we’ve been really impressed with the Small Claims Court, they really seem to offer rapid and effective justice.

Hopefully your former housemate will know this by now and will realise that she has no option but to find a way of paying you back your deposit.

However I don’t think you can really complain about the rent you were paying. The fact that she is now asking for only P1,100 is just a commercial decision, it’s up to her and her new housemate how much she charges just as it was up to you and her how much you paid when you were living there. I can understand how it’s frustrating but that’s just the way of things.

Do let us know how you get on and whether you get your money back.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

In December last year I entered into a 24 month contract with Orange for internet services. I was provided with a dongle for Internet Everywhere and a voucher for a laptop. Having been a loyal customer to Game and enjoyed the services that they offer e.g. guarantees, insurances, lowest prices in town etc I used the voucher at Game to purchase a laptop.

Now 9 months into the contract last week Friday I got home to find my house broken into. I immediately reported the matter to the police and the CID is currently carrying out its investigations. The same day I reported the matter to Orange through their customer service lines and in particular requesting them to block the internet line so that it might not be abused. I have taken up the matter with Orange and they are adamant that they do not sell laptops but just provide an internet service. On the other hand Orange insists that I will still have to keep paying the balance of the contract but there will be no replacements.

I am very much alive to the fact that the contract I have with Orange is still in full effect, but what has really surprised me is that there is no insurance for these items. Indeed there were lots of papers that I signed with Orange but little did I know that there was no insurance.

Game say that they too don’t offer insurance in these cases since a customer buying with a voucher is like buying in cash. Granted, but between Game and Orange there is a contract and what does this contract say about items bought for contract purposes? Orange took business to Game and the reverse is true. Surely no one can be expected to pay for goods that are not there?

Please help.

I’m sorry but I don’t think there’s any obligation on either Orange or Game to replace the items you lost for free. Game are correct that you effectively bought a laptop for cash from them. Yes, they would have an obligation to fix it if it went wrong in the warranty period but it’s not their fault that it was stolen from you. Similarly with Orange. It’s not their fault that your Internet Everywhere dongle was stolen. I suspect that they will offer you a replacement but they’re entitled to ask you to pay for it.

This is a key lesson for us all. You absolutely MUST insure these sorts of items, either as part of your normal household insurance policy or as specific items. I know that the cost of insurance sometimes seems high but you’ll realise how cheap it is when you’re faced with a situation like this.

One last tip about computer security. Make backups of everything. Frequently!

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