Thursday 12 November 2009

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice 

I bought a laptop from [Store X] on the 29 October 2009 and the last time I used it was Saturday. This morning when I switched it on I noticed a crack on the screen and took it to them and they are saying their company doesn't cover physical damages but it is not clearly specified on the invoice. Right now they are saying they are sending it to South Africa to check if the crack on the screen is a factory fault or my fault but if the report doesn't show its a factory fault I will have to cover the cost repairs.

Can you help?

[We’ve not named the store because we haven’t been able to speak to them yet to get their side of the story.]

This all depends on how that crack got there. Let’s take the store’s side for a moment. If you mistreated your brand new laptop and caused the crack then obviously it should be your responsibility to pay for fixing it. Although laptops are designed to be compact and portable they aren’t indestructible and they do have to be treated with great care. Our free tip for the week is not to forget to buy yourself a good-quality carry case for a laptop. Spending a bit extra for one that is designed for exactly the size and shape of your laptop will be money well-spent. Also, don’t make the mistake I once made of buying a rucksack-style laptop case that didn’t entirely cover the laptop. It was a real risk being outside in the rain. Get one that fits your laptop snugly and protects it against everything nature is likely to throw at it.

The interesting question is what motivation is there for the South Africans to say that it’s their fault? Surely it’s in their interest to say that it’s your fault? That way they don’t have to pay for the repair themselves.

Was there any other damage to the screen? If you had dropped or mistreated the laptop wouldn’t there be other damage as well to the casing surrounding the screen?

The warranty that you got at the bottom of your invoice is curious.

The way it’s phrased is difficult to understand but it almost says that there is no warranty on physical damages but it doesn’t actually say it clearly enough. Also the major flaw in the warranty is that you haven’t actually “specifically consented” to each exclusion. If they insist on applying each of those terms it will be, according to Section 17 (1) (f) of the Consumer Protection Regulations, both a “deceptive practice” and an “unfair business practice”.

We look forward to hearing what their investigation says. Let us know and we can take it from there.

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