Sunday, 16 February 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

A 5-day warranty?

Good day sir. I need help. I bought a charger at some computer shop in December and after 3 weeks it stopped working. When I went there to complain they claimed I had damaged the charger which I didn’t. I even showed them the compartment which didn’t work they were raising their voice and telling me how new their chargers are. They said I should pop out P50 and me being impatient and needing to access a very important document in it I did give them the money and got a new charger. Now after 3 weeks the charger dies again and I call them and tell them then they give me attitude and say they cant help me because their laptop charger warranty is 5 days and it has been more than that. I’m wondering if any action can be taken because this is the second time this has happened even if their warranty is long over.

I think this computer shop needs a little education on consumer rights in Botswana.

Section 15 (1) of the 2018 Consumer Protection Act says that a consumer “has the right to receive goods which are of good quality, in good working order and free of defects”. Clearly this shop finds that a difficult thing to understand.

Section 16 (2) of the Act goes on to say that a consumer “may return goods to a supplier in their merchantable or original state, within six months after the delivery of the goods, without penalty and at the supplier’s risk and expense” if the goods fail to meet the requirements of Section 15.

So their five day warranty is, how shall I put this politely, “very silly”.

I suggest that you go back to the store and explain this to them and if they give you any trouble, maybe you should suggest that the get themselves a copy of the Consumer Protection Act, or, if they need advice, they are welcome to contact us for advice. For a fee!

Is it roadworthy?

Hello Mr Harriman, I bought this vehicle from this guy based in UK but he has company partners in Gaborone who receive these vehicles on arrival. I have used this guy before to buy another vehicle but this time around the vehicle I got is so rusty that I ask myself how it passed the roadworthiness test at transport.

The vehicle is rusted underneath so much that the chassis is rotten with rust. I have shown him images I took but he just told me UK vehicles are rusty. I don't dispute that but this one is rotten with rust, and he was the one in UK who could have told me about the vehicle situation so that I could have told him to keep looking for better vehicle. I bought it for P70,000 though at BURs he claimed to have bought it for 950 pounds. What are my rights and what can I do, it's been less than I month that vehicle is in my hands?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of problems like this with imported cars and it’s a very good example of why I urge people to be extremely cautious when buying cars from overseas. The problem is that buying a car from another country usually means you can’t inspect it or test drive it. You have no real guarantee that the vehicle that arrives will be roadworthy or in the condition the seller claims. Yes, they might have pictures but can you be certain they’re really of the vehicle you want?

Obviously this doesn’t apply to an imported car that is already in Botswana. At least then you can test drive it and either inspect it yourself or ask a friendly mechanic to do so for you.

There are several things you can do. The first thing you can do is tell the seller that they failed to honour Section 5 of the Consumer Protection Act which says that a supplier may not “falsely represent” that goods are of a “a particular standard, quality, value, grade”. I don’t think it’s fair to deliver a vehicle that is so rusty. Like you, I would also question how it received any roadworthiness approval in such a state.

However, the most powerful weapon you have is the value they declared to BURS. If the importer told BURS that the vehicle was worth just £950, which is about P13,000, and then sold it for more than five times that amount, he was clearly trying to avoid paying tax. The Voice reported just three weeks ago that BURS had “discovered many cars were being undervalued during their clearance at the time of them arriving into the country”. I suggest that you contact BURS and see what they have to say about this!

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