Friday 10 December 2010

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I signed a lease yesterday with a real estate agent but then after around 1 hour 45 minutes I called to terminate the lease because I had a problem and needed the money. Now the agent is refusing to give back my money. She says she has already used the money and therefore she is still looking for another tenant to occupy the house. She says that if she does not succeed in doing so then I will have to occupy the house and she will only pay me the security deposit.

What can I do for her to pay me the full amount that I paid because I terminated the agreement in less than 24 hours?

I’m sorry but I’m not sure there’s much you can do. You signed the lease voluntarily and the real estate agent accepted your payment and offered you the property in good faith. It’s not as if anyone has done anything wrong or abused or deceived you. You entered into a contract with the real estate agent and you now need to negotiate your way out of it.

I think you also have to realise that there is no way you can force the agent to repay you your deposit. The only way I can think of is if there was something illegitimate about the deal. I assume that the agent is registered with the Real Estates Institute of Botswana? I assume they are a registered company and pay their taxes? Send us their details and we’ll make some enquiries for you.

However I’m sorry to say that if there’s no legal means for cancelling the lease you signed you are stuck with it and can only get of it by sacrificing something.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I bought a bag for P199.95 from a store in Francistown. Two days later while walking in the mall the bag just fell off my shoulders only to find that it was torn. I immediately returned it to the store and left it with one of the salespeople who promised to give the manager the details. The following day I went back to the store and the manager told me straight to my face that they don’t do refunds. We made a deal that he would find an identical bag to replace it. Some days later I went back and he told me that he couldn’t find the bag and they don’t do refunds. I asked him where their policy was displayed and he said it was in their office.

I made it clear that I was specifically looking for a brown bag and nothing else and that I was now reluctant to take anything from their shop as I was so disappointed. He refused to help me out so I asked for his bosses numbers. I was eventually able to call her but she just told me that they did not give refunds. I asked her about their policy which is not shown anywhere in the shop but she told me to live with it because there was nothing that she could do about it.

I told her about Consumer Watchdog and that I knew my rights but she couldn’t care less. She told me to go ahead with whatever. Help me please?

It sounds like you’ve been wronged but we’ll get in touch with the store to get their side of the story. However the basic issue is simple. You have a right to expect something you buy to be of “merchantable quality” which is defined as meaning “fit for the purposes for which commodities of that kind are usually purchased”. You had a right to expect that your bag would last a reasonable amount of time if you treated it with care. Two days is clearly not acceptable.

However the store is within their rights to refuse a refund so long as you knew about that at the time of purchase. In other words there should have been a big sign up clearly stating that they don’t offer refunds, only replacements. If no such sign exists then their no-refund policy simply doesn’t exist. What’s more if they can’t even find a suitable replacement then they have no option but to refund your money. No arguments accepted.

We’ll be in touch with them and will let you know what they say.

A warning from a reader

I received a cellphone message claiming to be coming from UK and they claimed I won 1,820,000 British Pounds. I decided to act dumb and followed all the instruction through the mail, I knew there was a catch somewhere. They now want me to deposit 540 Pounds before they can release my winnings!

As if this was not enough, my son received the same message and his was R1.8 million. I feel there are a lot more people receiving these kind of mails. Imagine what it does to you especially if you are in need of cash like I am. We must help people who might end up sending pounds or lots of rands to these crooks. I might be wrong, but I suspect foul play here.

Of course you’re right to suspect foul play. Many thanks for informing us and spreading the word about this scam and all others like it. Good for you for also not falling for it but exploring it a bit further to see how the scam works.

No comments: