Monday, 4 July 2011

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I took a pair of brand new dark brown fine wool business trousers to a dry-cleaners in Riverwalk last week. They had never been cleaned before. I explained this to the attendant, and very clearly specified that I wanted dry-cleaning. The bill was P24, of which I paid P14 in advance.

When I went to pick them up they look terrible - it looks like they have been washed in a washing machine, and then ironed very unprofessionally, with a lot of water. I complained and the manager offered me not to charge the remaining P10, however I do not find this acceptable, as I will have to put them through another dry-cleaning cycle somewhere else, which will cost me the same at least - the manager has admitted that this is the only remedial action possible.

I would like to know what my rights are, i.e. as a minimum I want my money back, which I paid in advance (14 Pula), an apology would be nice but I guess that is too much to ask for.

Regardless of whatever else the dry-cleaners do to remedy this situation an apology would obviously be a good place to begin.

I’m no expert on dry-cleaning but every time I’ve been inside one there’s been a sign on the wall saying that if something goes wrong it’s not their fault. However, that doesn’t actually excuse them from destroying your trousers. From what you say it sounds like they didn’t know what they were doing in your case and it’s up to them to fix the problem. I suggest you tell them that they’ve comprehensively failed in their duty of care to both you and your trousers and that their offer to waive the remaining P10 is ridiculous. They need to come up with a better solution that ends up with you in happy trousers.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I paid a P200 deposit at a furniture store for a sofa in May and agreed that I would pay for the rest on lay-bye over the next month. They assured me that they had it in stock. On 18th June 2011 I made the final payment of the sofa. The sales rep was on leave that day, but the cashier lady told me it wasn’t possible to deliver on that day. I decided not to pay for the delivery and asked the lady to call the warehouse to confirm that they had it. To my surprise they didn’t have it at the warehouse and they offered me the one that was on display instead. Some days later I spoke to the original sales rep and told her my concerns but she told me there is nothing she can do, the manager was out and she will let him know about the situation and she will call me or the manager will call me but I never got a call from them.

I eventually spoke to the manager on the phone and he maintained that that there is nothing at the warehouse and the one on the display was the last one. I told him that this was not what I was told when I made the purchase, and I didn’t want the one on display. He said he would speak to the suppliers but I asked him to give me back the money I paid for the sofa but he refused.

They continued to tell me to be patient or to take the sofa that had been on display and refused me a refund.

What can I do?

You can tell them (politely) where they can stick their horrible display sofa. You should go back to them and explain that they have breached their contract with you as well as breaking a whole variety of the Consumer Protection Regulations. Where shall we begin?

Section 13 (1) (a) forbids selling something that “does not match any sample or description” the consumer has been given. They’ve also tried to give you a sofa that isn’t new. That would be Section 13 (1) (c) they’ve broken. They weren’t truthful about the availability of stock which breaches 13 (1) (e) and 15 (1) (d). Failing to give you your money back breaches 15 (1) (e). By being just plain silly they’ve also breached 17 (1) (d). Finally they’ve breached Section 19 of the Regulations that clearly forbids saying utterly stupid things and irritating me personally.

Do they really want to be named and disclosed as breaking more rules and regulations than any other supplier this year so far? Give them exactly 5 minutes to give you your money back or their reputation will be in tatters.

P.S. I made up that bit about Section 19 of the Consumer Protection Regulations.

[Update: The consumer received a full refund.]

Scam alert

Over the years we’ve heard of a huge number of “advance fee” scams. They come in all shapes and sizes but one of the smartest is the follow-up investigation scam. The scammer successfully scams a victim and takes his or her money but six months later, using a different free email address and a different re-routable UK cellphone number gets in touch and claims to be from either the FBI or some other agency and offers to investigate the scam. Sooner or later there’s yet another demand for cash, payable via Western Union. A mixture of desperation and gullibility costs the victim yet more money. So if you’ve fallen for it once, be warned, you’ll be targeted again for sure.

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