Friday, 19 February 2010

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I went to a store at Game City with a friend to buy some candles. When we got into the shop there were glasses packed next to some shelves displaying some cushions. I picked up one of the cushions but when I removed it from the shelf the cushion accidentally touched the table & some of the glasses that were on the table fell down and broke.

The shop assistants and manager came running and shouting that whoever broke the glasses is going to pay. I tried explaining to them that the table was just too close to the shelf but they turned a deaf ear and demanded I pay them P275 for the broken glasses. They said if I don’t pay I'm going to spend the night in a cell. I tried explaining that I didn’t have the money but they weren’t interested. Luckily my friend was able to give them P150 for me.

Some of the shop assistants tried explaining to the manager that the table with the glasses was really close to the shelf with the cushions but she told them that a thousand customers get into the shop and they don’t break glasses.

I’m asking whether it was fair for them to treat me like that while they have insurance for everything in the shop?

I think this is one of those complicated situations. It’s a great example of how there can be two sides to a story.

Firstly, and obviously, it sounds like the store made a few mistakes. Clearly they should have managed this situation a bit better. There’s no excuse for rudeness and for embarrassing you like it sounds like they did. Even if a customer has been totally reckless the store manager needs to treat them fairly.

Then there’s the issue of stacking cushions next to glasses. That sounds like asking for trouble. It was an accident waiting to happen. Again I think it sounds like the store contributed towards this accident and they need to listen to their own staff who agreed that this was a risk.

However, and it’s an important point, you need to take some responsibility for the accident as well. I know it was an accident but it was your actions that led to it happening. Most stores have a sign on the wall somewhere explaining their policy that breakages must be paid for and I think most consumers understand that.

We’ll get in touch with the store and ask them for their side of the story and we’ll let you know what happens.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I would like to complain about the Day Care Centre my child attended. As usual parents are urged to make advance payment of school fees to secure space for the kid despite being a current scholar in that school. I also subscribed to the idea of advance payment and as a responsible parent would normally pay up-front, however, this time after making an advance payment of P1,000, in December 2009, it happened that my husband was transferred to another part of the country and as a result we had to take our children to another school.

I wrote a letter to the centre just before the beginning of the school term notifying them about the situation and the reason for transfer of my daughter. I requested them to reimburse me the P1,000 already paid. I have not gotten any response from the school neither by phone nor in written form to date. I made an effort to visit the school to see the principal about the matter but was never in the office. Disclosing this to the bursar who initially received the letter, she told me that the principal advised her to tell me that money paid is not refundable at their school.

I asked the centre to furnish me with a copy of any document that confirms that there can be no refunds but they couldn’t.

I later found a document that says that money paid will not be refunded for any circumstances. I kindly request you to intervene and advise on this matter or address it with your expertise because it seems many parents are to befall such an ordeal despite its inappropriateness.

I’m sorry but I think you are being slightly unreasonable. As you say it is normal practice for schools and day care centres to ask parents to pay some sort of deposit for the next year to reserve the place for their child. I don’t think that’s unreasonable of them. They are saving that place for you and are perhaps even turning away other customers for you.

I know it’s not your fault that your husband was transferred unexpectedly but it’s not the school’s fault either. They will now need to find another child to fill the place left by your child and I think most people would understand the position they’re in.

An update

Still no progress from Uniglobe New Era Travel, a travel agent in Gaborone who took a customer’s money (nearly P8,000), didn’t make the booking he had paid for and then gave him a refund cheque that bounced. Uniglobe, the franchise owner, the customer himself and even the Police are involved and all he’s got back so far is P500 and a bunch of excuses.

Our recommendation is simple. Don’t have anything to do with Uniglobe New Era Travel. They can’t be trusted.

No comments: