Saturday 30 June 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can they ignore the warranty?

On 25 May 2018 I returned my hair clippers with the receipt to the store at Airport Junction where I bought them but they refused to replace my clippers stating the purchase date of 17 May 2016 meant it was out of warranty. I informed the staff that when I purchased the clippers I asked about the 5 year warranty on this item and had been told that they would honor this warranty.

Imagine my distress when they refused to replace my clippers. Please assist as I was their loyal customer of many years.

This is actually very simple. If these clippers came with a five year warranty then the store from which you bought the item must honour that warranty. It’s not complicated and guess what, the Consumer Protection Regulations are on your side.

Section 17 (1) (d) of the Regulations forbids a supplier from “causing a probability of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the legal rights, obligations, or remedies of a party to a transaction” and I think that’s what they’re trying to do here when they say they’re entitled to ignore a warranty when clearly they’re not.

The next section, 17 (1) (e), forbids them from “disclaiming or limiting the implied warranty of merchantability and fitness for use, unless a disclaimer is clearly and conspicuously disclosed”. That means that in 2016 when you bought the clippers they should have informed you that the warranty wasn’t going to be honoured. Finally, another section, 17 (1) (f), says a supplier may not enter “into a transaction in which the consumer waives or purports to waive a right, benefit or immunity provided by law, unless the waiver is clearly stated and the consumer has specifically consented to it”. I think that means they should have asked you to sign an agreement saying you understood that the 5-year warranty didn’t apply to you.

I think you should go back to the store and explain this to them. Meanwhile we’ll do the same. Let’s see if they can see reason!

Why won’t they refund me?

Hello Mr Richard. I have surrendered my funeral policy at and they tell me stories of being given a month notice adding that they won’t refund me. So where can I get help? Mind you the policy was for five years.

I suspect you’re confused about the difference between an investment scheme and an insurance policy. I also suspect the company that offered it to you probably didn’t do their best to explain it to you properly. That’s a common thing and we frequently see the consequences of people not understanding the agreements they’ve signed with insurance companies.

In an investment or savings scheme the money you pay the provider is invested somewhere and with a little luck you earn some interest on it during the lifetime of the policy. When you later cash in the policy you get back the money you invested and that interest, minus any charges and commission that the provider took.

However, in an insurance policy, such as the funeral plan you had, you don’t get the money back. That’s because you’re buying something with the monthly premiums you pay. You’re buying “cover” against an unfortunate event happening. Another way to describe it is to say that you are “transferring risk” from yourself to the insurance company. If the unfortunate event happens, the insurance company pays the bills. That’s how it works with a funeral plan, a vehicle insurance policy or household policy. If there’s a death, an accident or a break-in or fire, the insurance company pays to fix the problem.

During the five years you had your funeral plan, if one of the people covered had tragically passed away, the company would have paid out. The fact that nobody died is fortunate for them and I hope for you too?

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