Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

In April 2010 I towed my car to a workshop for repair. The main problem was it wasn’t not engaging the gears properly or running smoothly. The workshop manager agreed with me that he could fix the car for P12,000 including panel beating some dents and making the car engage the gears.

After a month he phoned me saying that the problem is the gear box so I can take the gear box for repair then I did that because I was desperately looking for transport and I want the car to be on the way. I already paid him P6,000 as a deposit and agreed as soon as he fixed the car I will pay the balance. He phoned to say the car is ready but when I get there it still gave the same problem. I asked him to give me the car so that I can take it somewhere else as it seems he is unable to fix it but he promised to sort the problem out because he want to give me the car running as agreed.

After some months he said I must pay the balance and take the car in the same condition. I told him he had delayed me and that I take the car and the money that I already paid would be for the job that he has done but he refused with the car up today. I paid a lot of money and the car is not running. I reported him to Consumer Affairs but nothing happening.

I hope you can help me.

We probably get more complaints about second-hand cars and car repair workshops than almost any other type of business. In your case I certainly think you’ve done more than enough. You’ve paid this guy P6,000 and he appears to have done virtually nothing that’s useful. He didn’t even repair the gear box, you had to hire someone else to do that for you.

I’m not quite sure from what you’ve said, does he still have the car? If so then enough is enough. Write him a letter and deliver it to him saying that he has 7 days to deliver your car back to an address you specify or you’ll take whatever legal measures you feel necessary. Mention that Consumer Watchdog and The Voice already know about the situation and aren’t afraid to let their readers know more about this story. Like the name of the workshop?

Do they want to be reasonable or do they want their reputation disappearing overnight?

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I bought a second hand car in May from one of the car dealers around Gabs for P33,000, but I realized that it has a problem with idling. I took it back to the guy I bought it from, but he referred to one of his mechanics in Mogoditshane. I don’t really know what the mechanic did to the car, but since then I’ve visiting different mechanics to try and fix the car. 2 weeks back the first mechanic admitted that while he was trying to fix it the first time he damaged something in the car and said he will fix it. He did try to fix it and since this week he has been taking my car to his workshop trying to fix the problem, but up to now the problem persists and there is no progress. I once tried to negotiate with the car dealer to exchange the car but he is not willing and he says if he exchange it he will get it at lower value (P20,000) since he is going to spend some money on it trying to fix the problem, but I bought for P33,000 four months back and it has been giving me problems all the time. What do you think I should do?

To begin with you can insist that the first mechanic, the one who confessed that he damaged the car, can at least tell you precisely what he broke. You can then insist that he helps to fix it. Even if he can’t fix it himself he needs to help you somehow to repair the damage.

As for the dealer who sold it to you in May, I suspect there’s not much you can do. No doubt somewhere on your receipt it will say “Voetstoots”, “Sold as seen” or “We don’t give a damn if it breaks down”. Of course they can’t abandon all legal responsibility but they can’t really be held accountable if something goes wrong a few months later. They certainly can’t be held responsible for an independent mechanic breaking something unless the mechanics was actually working on their behalf? Or was he working independently? That’s quite a common trick you’ll see from second-hand car dealers. They’ll claim that their mechanic operates independently and that as a result they won’t be held accountable for any damage he causes.

Let us know if you make any progress?

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