Friday, 2 June 2017

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is the battery covered?

I bought a Huawei phone on the 28/12/2016. A month later I realized that the battery is swollen. The first week of using the phone the back cover cracked and broke. Now the battery is not working! The phone has less than 6 months! What rights do I have as a consumer?

I’m told the fact that the back cover is broken nullifies my warranty but what if the swollen battery caused the back cover to break in the first place? Do I have a case against the seller?

You most certainly do have a case against them in my view.

Certain components are often excluded from the warranty that a manufacture offers with a product, particularly electronic items such as phones and computers. Usually it’s things like the cables. However, there’s a big difference between cables that might fray because of misuse and a battery that’s swelling. That’s a sign of a battery that has a serious problem, possibly even a dangerous one.

The first thing you should do is to stop charging your phone. Don’t plug it in at all. Trying to charge a battery in this state is potentially dangerous.

Secondly you need to go back to the store where you bought the phone and explain to them that they sold you a phone that failed to meet the requirements of Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations 2001. That requires them to sell you an item that was “of merchantable quality” which 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 phone battery that swells like this and potentially endangers you clearly fails this test. Their warranty exclusions aren’t relevant.

Let me know what they say.

Can I get my money back?

Can you please help me. I was contacted by a company called Hotel Express last year around November or December. I mistakenly gave them my account details but cancelled my deal with them as they wanted to take money straight from my account. They kept calling to ask if they can take the money but I refused. Then today I got an SMS that they have taken P1,700 from my account without my authorization. Can you please help me recover the money? I don't have their contact details. Please help me.

I’ve warned people about Hotel Express International many times in the past, going as far back as 2010 and it’s always been basically the same story. You get a call from someone who invites you to join their travel discount scheme, offering you discounts on hotels, car hires and flights. As part of the sales process they ask for your credit or debit card details either to check if you’re eligible to join or to establish if you’re entitled to some special level of membership. Many of the victims who’ve contacted us have claimed that they didn’t give explicit permission for money to be deducted from their accounts but that’s exactly what happened. Without explicit permission they’ve been enrolled and, like you, their account is charged and they have endless trouble getting their money back.

Given that the discounts offered by this company can be obtained elsewhere for free, you have to wonder what the point is. You don’t ever have to pay the full rate in a hotel. There are plenty of special offers and discounted rates available for you to choose from. A few months ago I stayed in a hotel in Johannesburg and do you think I paid the full rate? No, of course not. I saw a special offer online that gave me a luxury hotel room at about half of the normal rate. Did I need to pay to join a discount scheme to get this special rate? Again, no, of course not. I got the discount for free, just like I’ve done many times in the past. I even once got a discount of over 80% in a hotel in Cape Town, just by signing up for a newsletter from the hotel chain. For free.

So ask yourself this. Why would you pay to get a hotel discount when hotels give them away for free?

We’ll get in touch with Hotel Express International in South Africa on your behalf and see what can be done. Be prepared for a battle though!

For everyone else, please don’t waste your money joining Hotel Express International and whatever you do, if they call you, don’t give them your card details.

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