Thursday, 18 August 2011

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I bought leather sofas from a store in Francistown in August 2009 and the price was P10,999.95. With all the interest the total cost went up to P24,610.34. We were advised that they were expensive because they were made of leather that would last a lifetime. I was convinced and I bought them and I liked them, but to my surprise they started wearing out in 2010 before turning a year. As my wife was not well for much of 2010, I fell behind in my payments, but as of this year, I informed them of the condition of the chairs about three times before they reacted. Their response on Wednesday 10th August 2011 was that they wanted to patch the chairs. Looking at the amount I have paid, remaining with a balance of only P8,600, I felt I needed your advise as these people only care about the money and not customer satisfaction. They have even sent my name to ITC. Our contract was to pay for 24 months. Please help before I take a drastic decision.

First things first. Whatever this “drastic decision” might be, don’t do it. Although this might feel like the end of the world, it doesn’t actually require drastic action.

There are two issues here that you mustn’t confuse and which cannot be connected. Firstly there’s the credit agreement you signed. You admit that you’ve fallen behind with the repayments and it’s up to you and the store to come to an arrangement about the money you owe them. The good news is that you’ve paid off two-thirds of the nearly P25,000 you owed, the store should take that into account. You’ve shown that fundamentally you’re a good payer, just one that had an unforeseen problem. I would expect the store to show you a little tolerance in the circumstances. However, they are within their rights to let ITC know that there’s been a problem.

The other issue, and which you mustn’t, MUSTN’T connect with the repayment issue, is the quality of the goods you bought. A leather sofa costing that much can be expected to last a lot longer than a year. A LOT longer. I suggest that you make it clear to them that you consider they have sold you goods that are not “of merchantable quality” as required by Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations 2001. Make it clear that patching them is simply not good enough. Give them 14 days to fix the problem or you’ll consider legal action.

The critical thing is that you cannot connect the repayments and the quality of the sofas. They’re totally separate issues. Whatever you do, don’t stop paying. That will just get you into deeper trouble.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I purchased a leather lounge suite for P18,000 in November 2010. Around April this year I noticed that the reclining mechanism of the sofa was not functioning well as it made a squeaking and creaking sound when one tries to adjust the position. Also the coverings which are not leather were starting to crack. I informed the store manager and he came to my place and inspected the suite and took them for repairs. They were brought back with nothing done to stop the cracks. Two weeks after receiving the sofas the same problem of squeaking and creaking became more pronounced. I called the manager and he said he will send the repair guys. From that time until now I keep on calling but they still have’nt showed up.

Now I am writing this email because the manager said something that has hurt my feelings. He told me that he has sold a lot of similar items but no one has complained about them and the problem is due to our us being heavy weights. For your information he never told us before buying these items that only certain weights can sit on them. I therefore plead with to get the manager to assist me accordingly since the warranty will soon expire. Thank you.

I’m finding it hard to remain polite. If what you say is correct than this store manager is perhaps the rudest store manager I’ve ever encountered. What a complete ****. (Word removed to protect the delicate feelings of Voice readers).

For now I’ll try and forget about what he said and focus on the problem with your sofa. I don’t think it’s good enough for a sofa to that new to start squeaking. I can imagine how irritating it must be. I’m no expert on sofa reclining mechanisms but can it be that difficult to fix it?

I suggest that you write him a letter giving him 14 days to fix it or you’ll take further action. If he doesn’t get things done as soon as possible, tell him that Consumer Watchdog says you have the right to go and sit on HIM instead of the sofa! That should stop him insulting you.

OK, I didn’t really mean that.

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