Friday, 12 April 2013

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I would like to get an advice from you concerning one of the motorbike dealers in Gabz as a matter of an urgency as I have already written them a communication that I am returning my motorbike to them for refund should they not attend to the bike problem I long reported. I am unsure if the action I intend to take against them is a "right" that I am entitled to as a customer.

You have a right, as expressed in the Consumer Protection Regulations to goods that are “of merchantable quality”. This is defined by the Regulations as “fit for the purposes for which commodities of that kind are usually purchased, as it is reasonable to expect in light of the relevant circumstances”. You don’t mention what is actually wrong with your motorbike but I assume it is a problem serious enough to stop it working reliably?

If this is the case you have a right to one of the 3 ‘R’s. A refund, repair or replacement. However it is up to the dealer to decide which of these they offers to begin with. It’s reasonable to allow them to try and fix whatever the problem might be. It’s only when that fails that you are really entitled to demand either a replacement or a refund. Most suppliers will try and avoid those because of the costs involved but eventually they might have to.

Send us the details and we’ll get in touch with them and see if we can’t get them moving!

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I have an issue with a furniture store. I bought a fridge on higher purchase, paid it for 4-5 months then I failed to continue with the installments but I communicated with them that since I can not afford to pay anymore they should come and get the fridge back. They did so and took it. Now my problem is they have blacklisted me at ITC saying I owe them 7000, is that fair?

Perhaps the commonest problem we have reported to us is store credit. So many times it goes wrong, leaving consumers confused, unhappy and poor. This is a very good example.

There is a very simple thing that everyone needs to understand. When you sign a store credit agreement you are committed. No matter what happens you will owe the store money and you will not be able to escape that debt.


You didn’t mention how much you paid for the fridge but let me make some assumptions. If you buy a fridge worth P4,000 the total credit price will probably be at least twice that price, let’s say P8,000. The monthly installments will probably be about P330. Let’s say that you pay for just 5 months, repaying a total of P1,650. That still leaves a balance of over P6,000 that you owe the store. If they then collect the fridge they’ll sell it second-hand and if they’re lucky they’ll get P2,000 for it. Remember that the actual cash value of the fridge five months ago was only P4,000. That means that even though your fridge has been taken away, you still owe the store at least P4,000, more than the original cash price of the fridge.

What’s more, if that outstanding amount of P4,000 stays there long enough the company is also entitled to add interest on top so it’s perfectly possible that you might now owe P7,000.

I suggest that you speak to the store and ask for a full statement of the debt and it’s current status. You then need to sit down with whoever owns the debt to work out a payment plan and see if you can get your ITC record cleared.

The lesson is simple. Store credit is the quickest way to make you extremely poor.


We heard from a reader about Kgomotso and her colleagues at Barclays Bank for dealing so well with a customer. Another celebrated Kits, the manager of the Total Village filling station saying it was “an absolute pleasure doing business with him. Not often that you find somebody around town that is still hungry and eager to do business!”

Well done to them all!

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