Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

Early this year my mum enrolled my sister in an English medium school to do her Form 4. The school fee was P5,000 per term and there was a registration fee of P100. My mum paid P3,100 up front.

The first day my sister went to school she was surprised to discover that there were only 3 of them in a class and for some subjects like Setswana she was alone and there was no teacher to teach her. She went to school for 3 days and then my Mum withdrew her.

My mum went to see the head teacher but they gave her the runabout. She found out that they only employ about 7 people some of them being teachers, the board members and the head teacher. The asked her to pay the outstanding balance even though my sister was no longer schooling there, they also told her that they cannot refund her because she was supposed to tell them a term in advance that her child will be withdrawing from school.

Is it fair to demand she pays for a service that she is not using? Are there any rules governing refunds? What should I do about this?

From what you say I think it’s clear that the school has let you down. While small class sizes are great there are limits. Having only 3 kids in a class is ridiculously small and I can’t see how they can justify that. However, the real clincher is having a class with no teacher. That’s completely unacceptable and I think they’ve failed in their obligations to you as a customer.

I suggest that you write to them saying that they have failed to honour their agreement with you to deliver adequate educational services, that the quality of what they did offer was inadequate and that as a result you require a refund from them. Mention that Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations says that if an agreement is “rescinded, cancelled, or otherwise terminated” then you are entitled to a refund. You might also suggest that their service was “not rendered with reasonable care and skill”, which breaches Section 15 (1) (a) of the Regulations.

We’ll get in touch with them as well and find out what they have to say for themselves.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

Last November I hired a carpentry company to fit my bedroom wardrobes and kitchen. They gave me a quotation for everything for P16,500 and they offered a 24 months guarantee. I then entered into a verbal contract with this company based on the quotation they gave me.

I also agreed that I would give them a deposit of P10,000 for them to buy materials to start the work.

As the work continued they asked for another P5,000 as they said the material was short and they needed to get the rest of it, and they told me that their labour would now be P1,500 as they had exhausted P15,000 already.

In December they stopped work because they hadn’t collected all the materials from the supplier but they said they would collect in January when the supplier opens again. January came and this company did not contact me concerning when they will come and finish my house. They even changed their telephone numbers and claimed they had lost their phone. Upon getting the new number they use now, this company now tells me that they cannot finish the works in my house as the money I gave them has been exhausted, so they claim they do not owe me anything at all.

My house now stands unfinished and they did not bring the rest of the materials to finish my house and they refuse now to come and finish my house. Is there anything you can do to assist me with this problem?

This is tricky. The problem lies with your phrase “verbal contract”. What does that mean? What did this verbal agreement say? Who will a court believe, you or the carpenter, because I bet the carpenter will make up a story about you agreeing to this?

Probably the best thing you can do is to send over the contact details you have for the carpenter and we’ll give them a call to see if they can’t come up with a solution.

The lesson is always to put things like this in writing and to get everyone concerned to commit to it with a signature.

1 comment:

Lulu said...

Re: the second email - classic law school example! Just double check if it is a part of the Roman Dutch law here, which it probably is.

If you need to hire another contractor to finish the job, you are entitled to claim from the previous guy whatever you spend in excess of P1,500 (if you've already given him P15,000 and the agreed price was P16,500).

Just because he only gave you a quotation does not necessarily mean that the contract is verbal!! The quotation was in writing, yes? It isn't a verbal contract then because it's based on a writing (albiet incomplete). What does the quotation say, and whose version of the story does it (logically) support? You can go to court on that to support your case.

Sounds like you have a case to me! Good luck.

Marilu G.