Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is it wrong of me to have stopped paying?

I bought a Hisense cellphone from a furniture store and I was to pay on installments now the problem is I used the cellphone and it started to give me an earpiece problem. I reported it to them and they checked the cellphone but I was told to go back home with it so I continued struggling with the problem. After 4 months the cellphone started to black out and couldn't even charge and I went to them again and they took it promising me to replace it until now. My problem is I haven't finished paying my installments and they haven't replaced it and I have also stopped paying them. Is it wrong of me to have stopped paying? And I’m so annoyed of them calling me and asking about the money and not say anything about the said cellphone?

First the bad news. Yes, you WERE wrong to stop paying the installments. I really can understand your frustration at having to pay for something you don’t have any longer but the problem with hire purchase is that until you’ve made the final payment you don’t own the item you thought you’d bought. It’s only after you’ve paid that last installment that you own the phone. Until that point the store still owns it.

However the phone presumably came with a warranty, probably for a year, and I hope you’re still within that period? If so the store is obliged to fix the phone, so long as you catch up with the installments.

I suggest that you get in touch with the store and tell them that you will be catching up with the payments and that you expect them to honour the warranty that came with the phone. If they’re awkward you should remind them that they can’t ignore the warranty without your consent and that all items sold are required by Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations to be “of merchantable quality”.

However, here’s some more bad news. Possibly. You don’t say when you bought the phone. If the warranty has now expired then you are in a very difficult place. You still must catch up with the installments and you’ll need to pay for fixing the phone yourself. That would be very unfortunate.

We’ll get in touch with the store to see if they can get things moving.

The lesson? Whenever possible buy things for cash. Hire purchase leads to problems like this.

When will they compensate me?

On the 19th October I went to an agricultural store to buy seedlings but I was unfortunately injured in the store as their employee was moving their stock past us, his cart squashed me against the payment counter leaving me with a back injury. The shop assistant enlightened the manager on the incident but she was hesitant and asked me to leave my details.

About 10 minutes after leaving the store I got a call from the store owner who asked that I go see their company doctor for examination. Their doctor had closed at the time and I ended up going to see a different doctor. I was charged P321.80. I called the owner to inform him of the payment and asked for my refund, he said he will send me insurance claim forms on Monday 21st October as their insurance is liable for such. It's been more than a month and each time I call or text him he keeps on saying his insurance will contact me.

Kindly assist me on how to claim my money back, is there a procedure to follow on such? I have suffered at their hands but they keep on passing the blame to their insurance company which they cannot even provide information on except saying they will call me.

I think you’ve been patient enough. The least you can expect when you are injured by someone else’s actions (or inaction) is a rapid response. I understand that submitting an insurance claim can take a little while but I they should also understand the urgency of this issue. If they have any care for their public image I’d also think they’d want to resolve this issue as quickly as possible to avoid any negative publicity.

I suggest that we address in two different ways. Firstly you write to them saying that they have fourteen days to resolve the issue and refund you for the doctor’s fees or you’ll take them to the Small Claims Court. Secondly we’ll contact them asking how they allowed a customer to be injured while in their store and what plans they have to prevent this happening again.

That should shock them into settling this!

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