Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Another threat from JB Sports

Another threat from JB Sports, this time in an email. It said:
"We totally disagree with your article on this matter.I investigated this matter personally.According to the store Manager the customer bought a pair of levis fashion shoe but not a trainer as you wrote.The upper is made of pu and the sole is rubber.The picture you put in the news paper is a collection of levis canvas shoes and so not relevant to the matter rather it looks so distructive for the brand.We are not manufactures of the brand but stockist of the same.If the shoe is faulty or damaged by abuse or whatever be the reason we need to get the openion from the manufacturer.The store manager has no authority to take action on this matter.He has to get the consent from his superiors in the business.This is what he told the customer to leave the matter with him and will inform the decision from the management later.But the customer was very adament to get the money back on the spot.Then he decided to walk out with shoe.Without the physical sample how do we determine the defect.Any way as a man who stands for justice and integrity you should have discussed this matter with relevant authorities before you decided to publish.If there was a problem in getting people on line you should have waited until following Monday to hear from otherside.What you have done is injustice to our business and questioed the integrity and honesty of the store manager and directors of JB Sports,a well reputed company in Botswana.The store manager never refused to help the customer.You have tarnished the name of JB Sports and a world famous brand and will be answerable for this.
Thank you"
My answer went like this:
"A number of corrections are required before I answer your email.

1. I don't think that the precise term used to describe the shoes is an important issue. What matters is that items of footwear that the consumer had purchased just a couple of weeks earlier and had used on a very small number of occasions were disintegrating.

2. I put no picture in the newspaper. Any picture that was published was unconnected with me or Consumer Watchdog.

3. I do not understand which entities you refer to when you mention "relevant authorities" and what role they might play in solving the situation when you had been given the opportunity to respond as the entity that formed a contract with the consumer when you sold him these shoes.

4. JB Sports were given several opportunities to respond to the contact we made with your Francistown Store Manager and your Head Office representatives shortly before lunchtime on Thursday 3rd February 2011. Your colleague called my cellphone from an unknown cellphone number while it was switched off and presumably decided not to send me a text message announcing his identity. He also did not take the opportunity to leave a message on my home phone number (which I had given) or our office number (which is publicly available) and did not send either a fax (ditto) or an email (ditto again). Any of these would have afforded JB Sports an opportunity to respond before publication.

5. Your claim that we have done "injustice to (y)our business and questioed (sic) the integrity and honesty of the store manager and directors of JB Sports,a well reputed company in Botswana" is frankly absurd. At no point have we questioned the integrity or honesty of such people.

6. I maintain that any "tarnish" to the "name of JB Sports and a world famous brand" is as a result of the alleged and unanswered performance of your store in Francistown, not the result of anything said by Consumer Watchdog.

I cannot help but note that at no point during any telephone conversations or email correspondence has anyone from JB Sports expressed even the slightest regret that the customer feels, rightly or wrongly, aggrieved by the situation. You have also not responded to the allegation that your manager expressed the opinion that "he does not care" about the Consumer Protection Regulations and that they "mean nothing to him" as alleged by the consumer.

As far as I understand, at no point while he was purchasing the shoes was the consumer informed that there were restrictions on the ways in which he might reasonably use them. Nor was he required to give specific consent (as required by the Consumer Protection Regulations) to any waiver of his rights as a consumer.

I also note that you have regrettably chosen not to accept our offer of an uncensored right of reply. I mentioned this to your colleague on the phone on 11th February, later that day to you and confirmed this in my email of 12th February, I offered JB Sports an opportunity to respond to our criticisms in the same publication in which they were written, which I believe is a very reasonable offer.

Please note that your email and my reply have been published on the Consumer Watchdog blog site in the interests of openness and fairness to readers of The Voice and the consumers of Botswana.

Also in the interests of fairness I repeat my offer of an unrestricted right of reply that I have mentioned several times before. I will guarantee to send for publication, and without censorship, 150-200 words that you can write that explains your position regarding the issue and proposing a solution to remedy your customer's complaint.

This opportunity will remain open as long as is necessary and I still believe that this is the simplest solution that benefits all concerned parties, most notably the consumer in question.

Finally I would like to respectfully refer you to Sections 13(1)(a)(iii) and 17(1)(e) and (f) of the Consumer Protection Regulations 2001 and Sections 195(a), 197(d), (g) and (h) of the Penal Code of Botswana.

With best regards"
Watch this space...

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