Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

I want a replacement phone!

I bought a phone on a two year contract. The first three months the phone was fine, after that it started giving problems. Sometimes it does not charge and goes off by itself. I took it back to the shop and they flushed it out and it worked for few days but then it repeated the same thing. I took it back and the technicians looked at it again and they felt that I must be given another phone. That’s when the management started running away from me leaving me with their juniors that can offer nothing or little help. I have been there five times and all I get is people running away and leaving me in their office unattended and they deduct P400 every month and I am not using the phone. I have my 1 year warranty paper that expires in January 2015, I will be happy if you could help.

The first thing to understand is that your contract with your network provider (BeMobile, Mascom or Orange) is probably entirely separate from the store from which you bought your cellphone even if the network provider gave you a voucher to buy the phone. It’s very important that even if you’re very angry with the store you don’t stop paying the monthly amount to the network provider.

Separately from that the store has to abide by Section 13 (1) (a), which requires them to offer products that are “of merchantable quality”. In other words you have a right to expect your cellphone to work for at least the length of the 1 year warranty.

We’ll get in touch with the store and see fi they can’t be a bit more helpful.

Update: We just heard that the MD of the chain of cellphone stores told the store to give the customer a brand new cellphone. Problem sorted!

Am I blacklisted?

Hi Richard, tell me, how do I check if I’m Blacklisted or not.

The reason I’m asking you is that ever since I lost my job in 2011 I have failed to service my debt due to lack of money and have not got any job yet as we speak. I have an outstanding bank loan and furniture debt. I’m living in fear that maybe I’m Blacklisted since I have not been paying for the past 4 years.

I’m however aware of the repercussion of failing to service the debt properly. How do I go about with it and find out if really I’m blacklisted or not?

First things first. There isn’t a blacklist. There are just credit reference agencies such as Transunion (which used to be called ITC) that hold details about customers like you and me on almost everything we do with our money. Most importantly they hold information on the good things we do as well as the bad things. Every time you pay off a debt they record that as well as the occasions when you pay late or don’t pay at all. They have a complete picture of what we’re like as customers and how well we behave. Banks, furniture stores, micro-lenders and a range of other companies check which these agencies before they lend anyone any money and what they are shown is the complete picture or you as a potential customer.

From what you have said you are almost certainly listed with one or more of these agencies as a bad payer. Forgive me for being blunt but that’s because it’s true. You owe a bank and a furniture store a lot of money.

What I suggest is going to require some courage. You need to contact the bank and the furniture store and find out what you owe them. Then you need to make a plan to pay them whatever you can afford before they take things to the next level and set debt collectors on you. It might seem embarrassing to confront the problem but it’s not nearly as embarrassing as seeing your name in the papers.

Finally you can contact Transunion yourself to check you record. I think you can do this from major post offices and it’s worth the small fee they charge you to see if your record is correct.

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