Friday, 7 April 2017

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can I get my money back?

I would like to lodge a complaint against a travel agent as I am not happy with the service I received from them. I bought a return flight ticket to Durban in December 2016 with my surname incorrectly spelt. However, I was allowed to board a flight to Joburg on and when I got to Joburg I was not allowed to check in for my flight to Durban as they told me I cannot board the flight with wrong names and I need to contact my agency so they can correct the ticket. I made efforts to call the travel agency however, they did not answer the call. I also sent an email which was never responded to. We also made efforts to find the emergency number for the travel agency but could not bear fruit. I then resorted to purchasing another ticket as the next flight was about to leave. I was advised that I should ask for a refund from the airline at the airport which I did. I came back to Botswana and submitted the documents for a refund on the first week of January 2017. I continuously followed the travel agency for my refund and never got any positive update. I was called last week to collect a cheque which amounted to P1,300. I am however unhappy with the amount I am getting which is about a third of what I spent to purchase the ticket which was P3,600 as I was inconvenienced by the service provider and it was not my fault that my name was incorrectly spelt.

This is a tricky one. Yes, clearly the travel agent made a mistake and they need to take responsibility for fixing it. They also need to say sorry for ruining your trip. Anyone who’s ever had a travel mix-up like this knows how frustrating and disturbing it can be. My first reaction would be to say that they should compensate you for your losses, specifically for the P3,600 you were forced to pay to buy a replacement ticket, not just the P1,300 you originally paid them. It was their mistake that brought this all about.

However, you might need to look at the small print on your ticket or booking confirmation they sent you. Did it say that you should check the name on your ticket? I know when I’ve booked tickets the travel agent has been very careful to get my name right and has explained to me that if there’s a mistake there might be problems when I fly. Did they explain this to you? If they didn’t then I think it was their job, as the experts in international travel to educate you about this. That’s one of the reasons we pay companies like travel agents, electronics stores, banks and insurance companies a little extra. We’re buying their expertise as well as their products.

Assuming they didn’t, I think it’s up to them to make things right. We’ll be happy to contact them and get their side of the story if you need us to.

Can I return it?

Please help me. I bought a fridge, it's initial price was P7899 and it was marked down to P5999 because it had a dent in the bottom (freezer) door. They delivered the goods last week Friday, the fifth day I bought them yet they promised to deliver them on Tuesday. So I wasn't home when they brought them, so my husband received them and left for our home village. There was noone all weekend and when I got home Monday after work I realised there are some other two dents in the door and now they are giving me a hard time. So is it possible for me to return it? Mind you, I bought it cash!

This might be difficult but it’s worth a try.

Yes, I believe you can probably return it. You need to tell them in writing that they failed to deliver goods that were "of merchantable quality" as required by Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations 2001. Tell them in your letter that you knew there was minor damage (which you should describe) but you had not agreed to accept the greater level of damage you now find in the item. Make sure your letter describes that damage as well.

You should also state that you formally cancel the purchase based on their failure and that you demand, as required by Section 15 (1) (e) of the Regulations, that they "promptly restore" the payment you made to them.

And finally, congratulations to you for buying something for cash instead of using hire purchase. Congratulations also for accepting a discounted item that wasn’t in perfect condition. If more us shopped smartly like you did, things would be a lot better for all of us.

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