Friday 2 May 2014

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

Recently I went into one of the local shops to buy something. I got there and handed my bag to the woman at the parcel counter and took the number and went inside the shop. After buying I got back to the parcel counter, handed over to the number to the woman. To my surprise she told me that there is no bag. During the investigations they found out that my bag had been swiped with a wrong number that does not match it and where that wrong number is suppose to be there are parcels and it looks like the owner of those parcels have been given the wrong parcels which happen to be my laptop bag.

I spoke to the manager, and he took my number and said he will call me but its been a week without hearing from him. My bag had my books, umbrella, sunglasses, original certificates, references, letters, modem and a memory stick.

This issue is stressing me because the manager is reluctant and I’m stuck because I had to use stuff in that bag for applying. I want you to help me so that the person responsible compensates me cause I need the certificates immediately and to return the modem to the owner.

I’m afraid the bad news is that your bag has almost certainly disappeared for good. Whoever took your belongings must have realized by now that they’d taken someone else’s stuff and if they haven’t done the decent thing and returned them by now I don’t think they ever will. There’s also very little the store can do to find it for you. They have no more idea of the person’s identity than you do.

The better news is that we’ve been in touch with the store and they are now taking the matter seriously. They’ve asked for a full list of all the items you lost and the cost of each of them. It’s not certain but I suspect they’re going to refund you for your losses. It’s not as good as getting your bag and belongings back but it’s the next best thing!

Meanwhile, I have very strong opinions about parcel counters in general. Firstly I don’t see why I can’t be trusted to enter a store with my belongings. Furthermore I wouldn’t trust my belongings, particularly if they’re valuable, to anyone I don’t know personally and total strangers at parcel counters aren’t in that category. You’ll also see that many stores have large disclaimers saying they take no responsibility for goods left there. Roughly translated all this means that they don’t trust you and you can’t trust them. Why would you give such a store your money?

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I have a colleague who experienced very bad service from his bank. He has a loan from them and unfortunately they haven't been deducting the monthly repayment since November last year. Its month end now they have taken all his salary to cover up the last months arrears and they are still to deduct more if any money is transferred into his account. Is it allowed for the bank to do so?

The real question is not whether they are allowed to do this but whether they should. Yes, technically they probably ARE allowed to do it. I bet that in your colleague’s original loan agreement there’s a clause saying that if he’s late paying them money they can take it from wherever they please. It doesn’t matter that in this case it’s their fault he’s behind. However the more important question is whether they SHOULD do this. Clearly the answer is a big fat NO. All it would have taken was a phone call and I’m sure your colleague would have agreed a plan to catch up with his payments.

We called a senior manager at the bank and the good news is that they’re taking this seriously. Your colleague can expect a phone call and a solution very soon indeed.

Update: The bank took this one very seriously and responded very quickly. It turns out that the customer had defaulted on his repayments on more than one occasion and had also taken out a loan from a micro-lender that, together with his bank loan, was eating almost all of his income. The bank were understandably rather impatient given his poor repayment history.

However it doesn't excuse failing to pick up the phone and at least trying to come to some arrangement that allowed him some money to spend on food each month.

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