Saturday, 10 June 2017

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

When can I get my money back?

Kindly assist me. I instructed my bank to transfer P47,500 from my account to my other account at a different bank on the 6th April. I unfortunately wrote an incorrect account number by 1 digit and it was only discovered on the 21st April after making numerous follow ups and being told the money was credited into my account on the 10th. I was made to write a letter requesting the bank to correct the error. Even to date I have not been given a concrete answer. I was at one point told the account holder of the said account withdrew an undisclosed amount and the bank was still trying to locate him/her. Today I was told the account is dormant and had an overdraft so the bank has written for authority to South Africa to reverse the remaining balance and I will only be refunded the balance which is still undisclosed.

I feel aggrieved and don't know where to report the issue further as it involves two banks. Its been 4 weeks of torture for me. I made an error but I feel the bank also had the resources to verify the details provided as I gave them full names, account number and the branch code.

I can understand your frustration. However, we must start by accepting, as you do, that this wasn’t originally the bank’s fault, it was your mistake when you got the account number wrong. It’s also not the bank’s fault that the person who received the money is clearly an untrustworthy person whose overdraft swallowed your accidental payment.

However, I’ve also wondered why banks don’t seem to check the other details before completing a transfer. Don’t they check the account holder’s name and other details? I always assumed they did but it seems you and I were wrong about that. I wonder what the bank would say if you suggested to them that Section 15 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations requires organisations to deliver commodities and services (like banking) “with reasonable care and skill”. Surely basic checks like you mention count as “reasonable care”?

We’ll get in touch with the bank and see if they can’t go a little faster instead of using your money to pay off someone else’s debt.

My laptop doesn’t work!

I recently bought a laptop, only to find that​ it's defective. I went to the Police and they said it's a civil matter and there is nothing they can do. Kindly advise on how I can go about this.

The Police were right. It’s not a criminal matter, it is indeed a civil matter, an argument between two parties where no law has been broken. Let’s leave the cops to deal with crime.

However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have any rights. You certainly have a right to a laptop that works properly. Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations requires a supplier to sell things that are “of merchantable quality” which is defined as meaning “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”.

What that means is that your laptop computer must do what a laptop computer should do. It must compute. While on your lap.

You don’t describe in what way it’s defective but so long as it’s a manufacturing issue, or due to the failure of the seller to sell it properly, then you have a right to one of the four Rs: a repair, replacement or a refund. However it’s up to the store to decide which they’ll offer. A sensible store will offer to repair whatever the malfunction might be.

The only exceptions to this rule are if you caused the problem yourself by perhaps reconfiguring the device and therefore breaching the warranty, installing pirated and therefore risky software or you carelessly infected it with some sort of malware like the recent WannaCry attack.

I think you should go back to the store and assert your rights. Mention the Consumer Protection Regulations and see if that has any effect on them!

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