Friday 12 June 2009

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

We’ve had a number of complaints recently, with virtually nothing to connect them other than in each case there is a consumer who feels aggrieved and wants help. However not all of these consumers are in the same position. Some, you might think, have been naïve. Judge for yourself.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

Recently my company approached Supa Cars and looked at their bakkies specifically the Heifa loda. I liked what I saw and decided to buy the vehicle on Friday 29th May. I sent one of my directors and another member of staff to have a look at the vehicle and they also liked what they saw and chose a silver model after consulting me. They negotiated a P1,000 discount and then handed over a cheque with instruction to proceed with the sale.

However on Sunday 31st May I bought the Car magazine and saw an advert with the same type of vehicle, a Hafei Loda, being sold in Johannesburg for R55,000, about P48,000, which is P22,000 cheaper.

On Monday morning at 8:15am we called Supa Cars to cancel the purchase but were told that everybody is in a meeting, we finally got through at 9:30am and conveyed the message to cancel. I then went there at 10:15am to convey this message personally.

Supa Cars told me there was nothing he could do as the vehicle belongs to a finance company and they will decide whether to cancel or not. I called the finance company who told me that they finance vehicles and don’t sell them. I’ve since called Supa Cars on several occasions since then and their position is that there will be no refund.

What can I do?

I’m not sure there is much you can do. You did, after all, make a formal offer to buy the car at the price they asked, after your colleagues had negotiated the discount and you paid them the money. If you really wanted to play dirty you could perhaps have called your bank and stopped the cheque but that’s probably too late by now.

If the company selling the car were feeling generous you might have been able to persuade them to cancel the sale but I suspect they are rubbing their hands in glee at getting a nice profit from the car.

The lesson is to do your homework BEFORE you make an offer to buy a car. There’s a Shopper’s Guide to buying cars on our web site which might help.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I read a recent Consumer Watchdog column regarding the Holiday Club, which has also brought me to approach you about a situation I’m in.

Firstly I must admit I don’t have any contracts or records any longer, since we signed up a long time ago and have moved homes a few times. The only information I have is all the correspondence from the Holiday Club.

According to them we signed up in about 2004 and made an initial payment of approximately P2,000. In around 2006, they started contacting me for these payments with arrears and interest.

I have not benefited in any way from the club, I haven’t been on holiday at all I only joined because I attended a workshop and signed up on impulse.

Now they claim we owe them for all the previous years with interest, the P2,000 we paid is not being considered. What does it say about renewing the contract annually?

How should we proceed?

With difficulty. We’ve had dealings with the Holiday Club in the past and on every occasion it has been very difficult to help people. In fact in the past the Holiday Club even threatened us with legal action defamation just for reporting on the cases. You can see their letters on our web site if you’re interested.

The problem is that you DID sign an agreement with them. You will only have been given 5 days to change your mind and then they will claim you’re signed up for life. The other complication is that your initial payment of P2,000 was only the beginning of your joining fee which is often over P15,000. Then there are annual compulsory payments which the Holiday Club have told us in the past are to be made for life.

We’ll approach the Holiday Club on your behalf and we’ll let you and readers of The Voice what happens.

Dear Consumer Watchdog #3

I want to buy a house that is for sale for P800,000. My bank will only lend me 90% of the value of a house but the market valuation for the house I want is only P600,000 which is below what the seller wanted. That means they will only lend me P540,000 which means I have to raise the balance of P260,000 myself.

The seller said he will remove some of the installed items in the house, fittings, accessories and things which were not yet completed at the time of valuation. I want to understand whether this is fair? Coz you the buyer are desperate for the house, is it up to you whether you take it or leave it, or you include your financier in all these stripping of the house?

Why are you even considering buying a house for P200,000 more than it’s market value? You must walk away from this deal immediately.

You can’t expect a bank to lend you more money than something is worth just because you want it badly. It is their money after all. Actually, it’s not even their money, it belongs to all the readers of The Voice who have deposited their hard-earned cash with them. The readers of The Voice don’t want you to borrow their money!

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