Friday 19 July 2013

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1
My problem started in January last year when I was offered a scholarship by Botswana Government to study abroad. It's government policy that after one year, one goes on to half salary until the completion the course of which I am on the final year.

Having a bank loan, I informed the bank accordingly in writing to the loans division my inability to pay the loan instalment as initially agreed due to the above mentioned fact.

Around March this year, I managed to come down there and held a meeting with one senior lady at loans division who promised me that they will look onto the matter. I informed them during our meeting that I can only manage to pay half the amount of what I was paying until now they have not responded to my request.

As my account is running into arrears, the bank is busy threatening me with legal action since I can not pay the loan as agreed whereas I informed them in advance.

All I need is feed back whether negative or positive!! AND again when signing the original agreement I was not aware I will be selected for scholarship. I do not even remember the original agreement terms.

I’m not sure I know where to begin. I’m afraid that you simply can’t behave like this. You entered into an agreement with the bank to borrow some money from them and to pay it back according to certain agreed conditions. I’m a little alarmed that you say you “do not even remember the original agreement terms”. Don’t you have a copy of the agreement stored safely somewhere?

It’s not the fault of the bank that you were sent away to study abroad and it’s not their fault that you are in financial difficulties. I assume that they kept their side of the bargain?

What you should have done is warned the bank as soon as you heard about your study plans and I suspect that, given the circumstances, they would have been flexible. You sound to me like the sort of customer they would have negotiated with. You’ve got a steady job and clearly you’re going to stay in that job for a while and progress through the ranks. I’m certain they would have been flexible.

Nevertheless I’ve been in touch with the bank and have suggested they get in contact with you to see if they can’t organise some compromise solution with you.

The lesson is simple. If you have an agreement with someone you stick to it whenever possible. If you have problems, talk to the lender, don’t just dictate to them. You’ll end up in trouble.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I bought a cell phone from a shop in Francistown in February this year, and they told me that the warranty period for the phone is 2 years. Now the phone is not working well, and I reported it to the same shop, but now they want me to pay P150 excess fee, but I asked if I had to pay any fees initially but they said no fees are to be paid, surprisingly I only found out yesterday that I had to pay that amount. No terms and conditions of the warranty were discussed when I bought the phone. So I need your help here, do I really have to pay that amount or not? Do the warranty services have extra fees?

What did they give you in writing when you bought the phone? What did you sign?

A 1 year or 2 year warranty?
By a strange coincidence we bought a phone just a few days ago and when we asked about the warranty we were told that it was for a year. It was only later when we unpacked the phone that we saw a big label on the box saying “2 year warranty”. Do you still have the packaging for your phone?

The situation should be quite simple. It all depends on what you agreed at the time you bought the phone. Above all other things though, the store is obliged by Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations to sell commodities that are “of merchantable quality”. The Regulations say this means:
“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”.
A cellphone that only lasts for 5 months clearly isn’t fit for purpose and it sounds to me like the management of this store don’t know this. I’ll get in touch with them to let them know!

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