Friday 26 August 2016

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Should I join Hotel Express International?

Can you please tell me more about Hotel Express International? How do they work? What do you pay for? What services do they offer?

Please be very careful. We’ve dealt with complaints from dozens of people about Hotel Express International over the last few years, all telling the same story. They’re “cold-called” by someone representing Hotel Express International in South Africa who invites them to join their travel discount scheme, offering them discounts on hotels, car hires and flights. As part of the sales process they ask for the potential customer’s credit or debit card details either to check if they’re eligible to join or to establish if they’re entitled to some special level of membership. The victims have claimed every time that they didn’t give explicit permission for money to be deducted from their accounts but that’s exactly what happened. Without explicit permission they get enrolled, their account is charged and they have endless trouble getting their money back.

Given that the discounts offered by this company can be obtained elsewhere for free, you have to wonder what the point is. Just a few days ago I stayed in a hotel in Johannesburg and do you think I paid the full rate? No, of course I didn’t. I saw a special offer online that gave me a luxury hotel room at about half of the normal rate. Did I need to pay to join a discount scheme to get this special rate? No, of course not. I got the discount for free, just like I’ve done many times in the past. I even once got a discount of over 80% in a hotel in Cape Town, just by signing up for a newsletter from the hotel chain. For free.

You have to ask yourself. Why would you need to pay to get a hotel discount when hotels give them away for free?

Please don’t waste your money joining Hotel Express International and whatever you do, if they call you, don’t give them your card details.

My shoes broke!

I bought shoes from a local boutique amounting to P900, but after wearing them a few days I noticed the top part was detaching from the base showing that the glue on the shoe is of poor quality which came as a shock especially considering the price. I immediately returned the shoes to supplier and told me there is no refund meanwhile there is no such disclaimer in the shop neither was I made aware of it when I purchased.

She told me to take something in exchange and unfortunately there is nothing as most of the clothes are of poor quality although priced around P650. I told her I did not find anything but she still decides she will not refund me. What can I do?

I think you need to educate this store about the Consumer Protection Regulations. Section 13 (1) (a) of the Regulations demands that suppliers offer products that “are of merchantable quality”, which is defined as being “fit for the purposes for which commodities of that kind are usually purchased”. Put simply, a pair of shoes should function as shoes. They should protect your feet for a reasonable period and shouldn’t fall apart after a few days. It’s quite simple.

The general rule when something goes wrong like this is that the supplier can choose one of the three Rs: a refund, a repair or a replacement. There would be nothing wrong with the supplier trying to repair the shoes, or to offer you another pair in exchange for the faulty ones, or just to give you your money back. But what they’re saying here is completely unacceptable. This store has let you down badly by selling you shoes that weren’t of merchantable quality and they need to fix this with one of the three Rs and they need to do this right now.

I suggest that you write them a letter explaining that you know your rights and insisting that they satisfy them. I suggest you demand either an identical replacement pair of shoes or a complete refund.

Tell them that you’ve spoken to us and that you won’t hesitate to take legal action against them if they fail to respect your rights. Let me know how they react!

No comments: