Saturday 1 April 2017

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must they fix my car?

I bought a car for a sum of P60,000 from a second-had dealer in Mogoditshane on the 28 January 2017.

A month and three days after purchase of the car on 3 March 2017 while driving it, the car slowed down speed and stopped. I switched it on again drove but it could not accelerate over the speed of 60 km.
I called the dealer and they suggested that I took the car back to them. I did that on 8 March 2017. The owner said that he will only provide labour to fix and that I must take of the parts cost. Ever since then different diagnosis have been reported to me and still no progress.

Kindly assist. It was stated on the receipt that there was no warranty.

I suspect you’re going to be out of luck. Most times when you buy a second-hand car, particularly if it’s from a smaller dealership and not one of the manufacturers’ approved dealers, the sale is done “voetstoots”. That mean the vehicle is sold “as it stands” or “as seen”. The seller is making clear that it’s your job as the buyer to inspect the vehicle before buying it and to take responsibility for any faults that emerge once you drive it away. That’s what the “no warranty” statement on the receipt refers to.

However, that doesn’t mean they can totally disclaim any responsibility for the vehicle. They can’t use the voetstoots clause to deceive you. They can’t hide facts from you about the car. They can’t lie.

If you can show that they deceived you when you bought the car then you can probably demand that they either fix the vehicle or give you a refund. If that didn’t happen then I suspect you’ll find it hard to make them take responsibility. Given also that the problems didn’t emerge until a month later you’re facing an uphill battle.

The lesson is always get a second-hand car checked by an expert before you hand over your money. If you don’t have a friend or relative who has the skills it’s worth approaching a mechanic you trust to see if they can help. Giving them a few hundred Pula for their time might save you tens of thousands in the long run.

Help me get my refund!

I joined a medical aid scheme in 2012 and I opted for a policy of P125 monthly which was the highest.  Since 2012 I thought this medical aid deducted P125 from my Bank Account.  I realised last year that they have been deducting P250, and I called them.  The lady who was assisting me told me that In their records it shows that I signed for an instalment of P250, and I told her that is their highest policy was P125 and both of us made a mistake because they don't have a policy amounting to P250 so they should refund me.

They asked me to ask my bank to print me the statements that show that they deducted P250. I did that and I was only given the recent statement that reflect deduction of P250 but they kept on insisting that they need all the statements.  The bank asked me to ask them to retrieve the information from their records as it will show how they have been deducting when they reconcile their books.  They told me that they can't access any information from their side and they can't refund me because I couldn't give them the statements as they required.  Since December 2016, I have been following them there is no progress what can I do?  I think they don't want to refund me.

I think you might be right. They’ve got your money and they want to keep it.

It’s not unreasonable for the medical aid company to want some evidence that you’ve been overcharged but it IS unreasonable of them not to be able to do this themselves. Don’t they have a computerised billing system? Can’t they use it to print a report of all your payments going back to when you joined? Wouldn’t that actually be more reliable than bank statements?

If they do have such a system and they’re refusing to use it then I think you should complain about them to NBFIRA. On the other hand if they don’t have a computerised billing system then they shouldn’t be in business so you should complain to NBFIRA. Either way maybe NBFIRA can encourage them to do the right thing. Meanwhile we’ll get in touch with them as well and see if we can persuade them to be a bit more helpful.

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