Friday, 18 September 2015

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can she return the furniture?

Help me understand this. If someone bought some furniture on installment and is unable to pay due to insolvency of the company she works for which means she does not have any source of income, can’t the goods be returned to the shop?

Yes, she certainly can return the furniture to the store but that’s probably the worst thing she could do right now.

If she voluntarily surrenders the furniture she must understand that she will still owe the store money. There is no way she can walk away from her debt like that. To begin with the store will be left with second-hand and no doubt deteriorated goods that they can’t sell again as new. Section 13 (1) (c) of the Consumer Protection Regulations says that a supplier fails to meet minimum standards if they try to sell something as new “when in fact it has deteriorated, or it has been altered, reconditioned, used or is second hand”. They might be able to auction the furniture but they’ll only get a fraction of the value back. Your friend will still owe the balance and that will still be a significant amount.

What I suggest is that your friend either checks her paperwork or contacts the store to find out if the hire purchase deal she signed included insurance against retrenchment. If it did she might be able to claim against that policy to cover the repayments she still has to make. However she should do that as soon as possible because the policies often only give customers a short period within which they can claim.

Either way she must contact the store as soon possible to let them know about her situation and that she’s having problems making the repayments. With luck they might be able to offer her a repayment plan she can afford. We’ll also be happy to contact the store on her behalf.

Can Mum get her money back?

My mum has joined this scheme at BMB (Builders Merchants Botswana) whereby if you want some building materials and you cant afford it, you pay some money to them until it reaches the amount you want to buy the material, now it seems like the shop has closed something like liquidation and they have my mum's money and they are nowhere to be found at their offices. What I want to know is what to do to be able to recover the money.

Unfortunately the simple answer is that she’ll need to join the queue. When a company collapses owing money to a variety of people there is a pecking order that usually involves the major creditors like banks and institutional investors getting their money first and the little ones (ordinary individuals like you and me) coming last.

It’s very important that your Mum gets in touch with the liquidators of the company and gets their advice on how she can lodge a claim against the remains of the company. I spoke to the liquidators and they told me that they have ben advertising for months for people like her to come and lodge their claims. They say that she should call them on 390 0575 or send an email to or for further expert guidance.

Realistically your Mum needs to prepare herself for disappointment. One news story I found about the failure of the company said that they had collapsed owing up to P75 million. Given that level of losses it depends on whether the liquidators can find company assets that come to that amount. Only then will she stand a chance of getting any money back. I think she probably needs to prepare herself either for a disappointment or a fight.

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