Saturday, 25 March 2017

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

I bought the wrong things!

I would like to ask for assistance. I bought two night creams and a face serum for my sister at one of the pharmacies. Barely one hour after the purchase I realised I bought a wrong brand. I tried to return the things which cost me around P500 but the shop won't accept giving me back cash. Rather they suggest I take something else worth that amount. The manager even suggested that it's his discretion and he will be doing me a favour to do an exchange.

If they have the brand I was looking for I would have gladly exchanged. But they don't have. And I don't need anything else from the pharmacy. All I need is money to go buy the right brand.

In the receipt there is nothing written regarding returns and exchanges. When I asked for that writing the manager showed me one paper at the medicine counter where only prescriptions are dispensed which says no refunds.

Please help me with the process to follow and what I can do.

Here’s a difficult truth that we all need to learn. We don’t have the right to change our minds when we buy something. We only have a right to return an item if there’s something wrong with it or if it was mis-sold. If the thing you bought doesn’t work, then the store is in breach of Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations because they sold something that wasn’t “of merchantable quality”. In that situation you’re entitled to one of the three Rs: a refund, a repair or a replacement. Importantly it’s only reasonable to allow the store to decide which of those they offer you. For instance, if a store sells you a cellphone that doesn’t work or stops working it’s reasonable to allow them to try and fix it. Only if that fails can you demand a replacement or a refund.

You’re also entitled to some recourse if the item was mis-sold. If the store deceived you about a product and its properties or if they made a claim that wasn’t true then again you have the same rights, the three Rs.

In your case neither of those things happened. The store didn’t do anything wrong. The mistake was entirely yours. You might argue that you haven’t used the products and they could put them back on the shelf and sell them to someone else but you can’t force them to do that. In fact, because they’re now technically second-hand they can’t sell them as new again. At the very least the store has the minor bother of restocking the item.

Of course, a reasonable store might be a bit more accommodating but that’s not something you an insist upon. Why don’t you go back to the store again and see if they can be more helpful?

It smells of nothing!

Please assist. I bought a cologne for P875 from a store in Game City sometime in July last year at 50 percent discount. Only for me to spray on the cologne and then realise that it wears off after just 30 mins. I tried it on a second occasion and still got the same results. I thought maybe I just couldn't smell it and I would ask people around me if they could smell it but got a negative response. Mid September I went back to the store to raise my complaint and the manager told me he could not assist me because I had misplaced the receipt. When I probed further about him retrieving a copy from their system he said it was impossible and later changed to say it takes time. He then said though he could reprint the receipt he still could not assist me because I had admitted to using it twice or thrice and therefore they could not resell it. But then how was I supposed to know it wears off within minutes if not by trying it.

Enough. This is a very good example of how useful the “merchantable quality” requirement of Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations can be. The Regulations define merchantable quality as referring to something “that is fit for the purposes for which commodities of that kind are usually purchased”. People buy perfume to smell nice and perfume that doesn’t smell of anything is obviously not “of merchantable quality”.

The business about the receipt is a distraction and is not your concern. It should only take minutes to check their computer system and trace your purchase. And then the final point, the fact that you’d opened it and used it? You’re right. How on earth could you be expected to discover that the perfume is useless until you tried it. Do they expect you to be psychic?

I suggest that you go back to the store and explain to them that you know your rights!

Update: She got a full refund!

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