Sunday 31 March 2024

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay them?

Hello sir. I want to understand something. I was owing a certain clothing store in Gaborone a certain amount of P3,000 but all of a sudden I was called by a certain man saying he is from a certain company sending me their account numbers saying I will be then paying to them the sum of P4,000. When I enquired asking I realised the clothing store have sold my credit/debt to that company but the thing is I'm forced to pay that P4,000. My worry is I have never made any agreement of P4,000 with that company. I don't even know myself what is the right way to go about this?

Unfortunately, there's very little you can do about this. If a company has a debtor who has owed money for a long time without making repayments, it's common practice for them to sell the debt to a debt collector. It's then up to the debt collector to collect as much as they can from the defaulting customer.

The good news is that debt collectors are often a little flexible about the amount they want from you. I spoke to one who even offers a discount to customers who come forward and cooperate. However, the bad news is that debt collectors don't ever give up. It's their job, it's how they make money and they are very good at it.

You also asked whether it's ok for them to collect the money when you never made any agreement with them? Yes, it is ok. If you look back to your original agreement with the clothing store you'll find that it says that they can pass your debt to debt collectors when they choose to do so.

I suggest you contact the debt collector as soon as possible and negotiate a repayment plan that you can afford and that they can accept. Please do it sooner rather than later.

Where's my phone?

Greetings Richard. Kindly advise me here. My younger sister bought an iPhone X 64 GB from a shop by laybye. When we went to clear the balance and collect the phone we found out that they sold the phone she laybyed and offered us to take iPhone X 256GB and told us to top up but we refused to top up so he gave us the latter phone.

After some weeks she found out that the phone has a software problem and it's not even connecting to wi-fi and she went back to the owner to tell him the phone problem and then he said that she will bring the phone for exchange when he receives new stock on Monday. The day arrived but he said stock didn't arrive and he said the next Monday. The next Monday it was the same story and when we spoke to him again he said stocked arrived but there was a different phone and no iPhone X.

I think it's time to say goodbye to this store. Clearly they're incapable of selling you a phone or perhaps even of running a business properly. Firstly they broke their contract with your sister by selling the phone they were meant to have put aside for her and for which she paid them in full. Then they gave her a faulty phone that couldn't do a basic thing like connect to WiFi.

And now they can't even deliver what she paid for. Obviously it's up to her but if I was in her position I would tell them it's over and that I want a complete refund.

I tried contacting the store but I don't think they're interested in responding but together I'm sure we'll get them to respond eventually. Then they can think about doing the right thing.

Update: I messaged the store and their response wasn't very helpful. They said:
"Which one you talking about
And who are you ?
I’m talked with customer
I’m not talking with 3rd person"
But then they did talk. They called me, shouted at me a bit, demanded to know why I was involved and suggested it was wrong of me to contact them.

Eventually they calmed down and promised that your sister will get her phone in 10-12 days.

They said that they told your sister that the phone was refurbished, and not new as your sister thought. I explained that the law is very simple about selling used items as new but they claimed not to know about this. I told them that Section 13 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that a supplier who:
"offers used goods shall inform a consumer that the goods sold are used goods by ... placing a label on the goods that indicates that such goods are used goods; and ... placing a notice on the invoice issued to a consumer"
It goes on to say that a supplier that fails to do this:
"shall be liable … to a fine not exceeding P50 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to both"
Maybe they won't do this again?

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