Friday, 19 November 2010

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice

I bought a Mercedes in 2000. At the time I ordered it the waiting time was six months before it would arrive. When I was finally told that the motor vehicle had arrived, it was not what I had ordered. My order was an E240, with a grey interior and no phone. What I got was a beige interior with a phone that I had to pay about P5,000 for. Because I had waited about six months, I did not want to wait any longer so I just took the car. I had never driven a Merc before and so I was quite excited to drive one. On the dash screen there were two identical cracks that seemed to like they were part of the car. Over the years the cracks have grown and now it's very obvious that they are cracks. I need your help on what I should do regarding this. I suspect that they sold the car to me because the person who had ordered it realised the defect and they took advantage of my ignorance. I think that they should replace the screen.

Some time ago, I lost one of my keys and I reported to the garage, so they would deactivate it. Instead, they deactivated the key that I had, and therefore I could not use it anymore. I was told that I needed to order a new key, and that it would take about three weeks to arrive. In the meantime I had to use a manual key and had to lock the car in a cumbersome manner and as a result one day I locked the key inside. I waited for the key to arrive and by that time the battery was flat so the key did not work. The gentleman who attended to the car told me they would use a wire and it would not show on the car. What he did not tell me was that the damage would show much more as the car got older. Now there are visible tears on the door and they are unsightly. I know I should've acted earlier but I hope that you can give me advice that would help me in this instance. I think the garage should pay for the damage on my car because they are responsible for the damage?

There are two issues here. The first is the original purchase of your car. Clearly the garage failed to deliver to you the car you had ordered and you may be right to suspect that you were actually given someone’s else’s order. However this was such a long time ago that there’s nothing you can do about it. I’m afraid that leaving the issue for over 10 years is way too long. The time to do something about the problem was firstly when the car was delivered. Instead of being charged extra for the phone you really should have demanded a discount for having the wrong vehicle.

The second issue relates to the loss of the key and the damage they did to the car when they tried to help you. You had a right to expect them not to do any damage unless they agreed that with you beforehand. Also the fact that they deactivated the wrong key again suggests that they probably shouldn’t have charged you, or at least given you a discount for your trouble.

However again the problem is time. You don’t say when this problem with the key happened. The lesson is to respond to failures promptly. Whether it’s a car or a cellphone you need to tell a supplier that something is wrong as soon as you realise it. Delaying can ruin your chances of getting a solution.

Blackberry update

Last week we reported on a customer who bought what she thought was a brand new Blackberry phone, only to find that it contained someone else’s photos and videos. What’s more it was a “branded” phone, originally sold by T-Mobile, we think in the USA. Finally, and after a bit of a battle, the store in question agreed to completely refund her money and she walked away with her cash last week. However then things got even better. The owner of the chain of stores got in touch saying he was appalled to read in The Voice what had happened. He assured us that second-hand phones should not be sold as new in his stores and he would like to make it up to the customer. Would she like a completely free Blackberry to say sorry?

Yes, she would thanks!

Well done to the store owner for reading the Voice, responding quickly and for fixing the problem with some style!

Scam alerts

I know I say this every week but no, you haven’t been identified by an employee of a foreign bank to extract some illegal funds from a dead customer’s account, you haven’t been selected by a beautiful stranger in a refugee camp to help her extract her inheritance from some far-flung, war-torn country and you most certainly haven’t won a lottery that you didn’t knowingly enter. No, you can’t trust anyone who contacts you to discuss a business deal who only has a Gmail or Yahoo email account and no landline phone number.

In fact don’t trust ANYONE who emails you out of the blue. Never give money to anyone you wouldn’t trust with your car, your house or your children’s safety.

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