Friday, 6 May 2011

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

In August last year I purchased furniture in Joburg and asked a courier company to collect said furniture and deliver to Gaborone. This is a company I have been dealing with for at least two years to courier stuff for me to and from JHB at least twice a month.

Unfortunately their truck was involved in an accident and the furniture was apparently smashed so it was not delivered. The staff at the head office asked me to wait 3 months for insurance to pay out before making a claim. In January I tried to get hold of the MD and he started making lame excuses and giving me the run around. I sent a letter of demand from my lawyer. There was no response. I tried to take if further here legally but then discovered they don’t have a physical address here! They basically deliver and collect goods. So if I have to sue it would have to be in South Africa.

The furniture cost P7,800 and as far as I am aware all transport companies should be insured?
Is it legal for a company not to have a physical address here? What could my next course of action be?

You have been abused, no doubt about it. Frankly it shouldn’t bother you whether they’re insured or not, they must compensate you for your lost furniture. However, yes they SHOULD have insurance to cover this sort of problem. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand that things like this must happen often, perhaps not as seriously as in your case but I’m sure many of us know situations where things have been damaged in transit.

As far as I can see the situation is perfectly simple. You hired them to transport and take care of your goods and they destroyed them instead. They owe you the value of the goods.

We’ve been in contact with the company and they’ve promised us a response. We’ll let you and other Voice readers know what they plan to do to fix the problem.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I have been in touch a company who claim to assist people with academic research (Masters and PhDs) and I do need help with my research but I am not sure if they are to be trusted. Can you do a quick background check on them before I can part with my hard earned cash?

Superficially the company you name, ETCO India, appears to be a legitimate company but I’m suspicious. Their web site lists a variety of technical IT projects that they have supposedly undertaken but they don’t name a single company they’ve worked for. While I understand that sometimes a company is required to keep the names of certain customers secret (we too have confidential customers) you’d think there was at least one they could name, don’t you? They also seem to have only two employees that they’ll identify.

I got in touch with the company and they say that they won’t actually write your thesis for you but they’ll extend “guidance and tuitions to a student in specific subjects where we have expertise”. They also confirmed that they are not accredited to deliver educational services so I question the legitimacy of what they can do. But that’s just my opinion.

I remain doubtful about the whole concept though. Even if they do only help you with your studies, why would you want to pay a company in a far-flung country to support you in your studies? Don’t you already have an academic relationship with the university that’s offering you your qualification? I’d stick with them, if I were you.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #3

I just heard that you help customers who received bad services. So I just want to know do you help with ill-treatment from government employees because it’s high time someone does something about my local Police Station. Their service is ridiculously poor and the sad thing is the senior staff always says they are doing something about it but nothing ever happens. Please help or advise?

The Public Service is no different from any other service provider. We pay them money in our taxes and in return they deliver a service. However it’s easy to think sometimes that certain departments have forgotten this. I suggest that you write directly to the Commissioner of Police and ask him to intervene.

Dishonoured cheques

We heard from a business owner recently who asked what he should do if he receives a dishonoured cheque. It’s actually quite simple.

Section 23 of the National Clearance and Settlement Systems Act 2003 states quite clearly that:
“Any person who knowingly draws or issues a cheque, or other payment instrument against which there are no sufficient funds in his account at a financial institution on which the cheque or other payment instrument is drawn shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding P1500 or 3 months imprisonment or to both.”
Simple to understand, don’t you think? It goes on to say that ignorance is no defence. You can’t just respond by saying that you didn’t know you didn’t have enough money in your account. It’s your job, your legal responsibility, to know you have enough money to cover the value of the cheque.

So my advice to anyone who receives a rubber cheque is to call the person who gave it to you and give them one simple warning. The cash or the cops, which do they prefer?

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