Sunday 27 November 2016

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Help me with my phone!

I bought a phone from a store at BBS last year in May and after 4 months it starts to freeze and is no longer working but I'm still paying. They gave me the other one but that isn’t working also. I need your help please.

Firstly, I celebrate you for continuing to pay your instalments. Many people in this sort of situation stop making the payments and trust me, that’s the worst possible thing you can do. If you stop paying the store is entitled to repossess your goods but don’t think that means you stop owing them money. After they auction the goods for a fraction of their original price you’ll find yourself still owing almost the same amount as well as penalties, interest and legal fees. Whatever you do, never stop paying your hire purchase payments, no matter how tempting it might be.

Meanwhile I’m not sure you shared the full story. I contacted the store management and they gave me some additional details you forgot to mention. Firstly, the store had replaced the original phone that went wrong with a brand new phone. It was that phone that later also went wrong. However, that second phone went wrong more than a year after you bought the first one, after the warranty had expired. Remember that the warranty on something like a phone lasts a year from the date you bought the phone, not from the date you were given a replacement. It means that if a store offers you a brand new replacement phone 364 days after you bought the original, the warranty only lasts for another day.

Also you didn’t mention that you’d taken the second phone to a “bush repairer” who tried to get it working again. Even if the phone had still been under warranty this would have invalidated the warranty.

Sorry that I don’t have better news for you but the store isn’t obliged to do anything for you this time.

Where’s my refund?

Recently I lodged in a certain lodge in Maun and paid for six days in advance as accommodation fees. I only happened to stay for four days and I have to go through a lot of torturing because the lodge is taking long to refund me. Its been a month and five days now as I am being tossed from one pillar to the next. To add salt to the injury, the monies belong to the government (imprest) and I was supposed to have retired it at least 14 days after the trip ended. As is procedure, the government will now resort to refunding herself using my own money and this will not put me in good light as I appear to have used the monies for other things.

The hotel manager had told me that I write a letter requesting for my refund which she kept for two weeks only to inform me that the letter could have been written by my bosses. I asked her why it took her long to inform me about that and only said she is sorry about what happened. Now I have a feeling that the lodge is not willing to refund the monies back.

You’re being thoroughly let down by this hotel manager and I think it has to stop. I think you need to contact the manager and give her a deadline. Make it a short one. I suggest you give her three days to refund you directly to your bank account in full. Point out to her that if she doesn’t do this you will take legal action against her without hesitation. In fact, you’ll need to allow her 14 days to make the payment but don’t tell her that. After that 14 day period you can go to the Small Claims Court for an order against the lodge.

You should also demand that she writes your employer a letter explaining that it’s not been your fault that you haven’t been able to retire your imprest as promptly as you should have done.

I think you should also write a formal letter of complaint to the lodge management and copy that to your employer, Consumer Watchdog and the Botswana Tourism Organisation. If the lodge suspects they might lose all that valuable government business they might reconsider their approach. You might even encourage them to improve the service they offer in future.

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