Friday 15 December 2017

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can’t I change my mind?

I need your assistance. On the 22 November 2017 I bought 35 pallets of paving bricks from a building supplies company. On the 4th December 2017 we realized that we had overestimated and had 9 pallets remaining and I contacted the supplier to arrange for a return and they flatly refuse to take the pavers and refund.

Where can I seek redress?

I have bad news for you.

You don’t have a right to change your mind and I don’t believe that you have any right to return the goods in this situation. You bought them in good faith and the supplier sold them in good faith. So long as the goods are “of merchantable quality” and there was no deception by the supplier then the deal is concluded. It’s only if the goods fail to be “of merchantable quality” that you have a right to redress, normally one of the three Rs: a refund, replacement or repair. If the bricks you bought had been poorly made, weren’t made in accordance with a standard the supplier had quoted or had been the wrong size or colour then you could have demanded redress but that wasn’t the case here, was it?

Think of it from the supplier’s point of view. Did they do anything wrong? I don’t believe so. They sold you the bricks and you effectively changed your mind about the quantity you wanted. They now have to shoulder the cost of restocking them, updating their systems and checking the bricks you want to return aren’t damaged in any way.

Of course, there are some suppliers who permit a customer to return unused products that are still in perfect condition but that’s a luxury, not a right.

Unless they agreed to accept returns when you bought the bricks… Did they?

My car doesn’t work!

I truly need your help or maybe advice will do. I sent some guy to go buy me a Japanese car in Durban. The car came and we received it on Thursday last week we found out that the radio was not working (fine we let it go) and one tyre had a puncture. We decided to buy all four new tyres. The car was registered on the 24th now on Saturday when I wanted to go out the car refused to lock all doors, the back windows are not working. So it is just here of no use to me coz the guy said they is no way they can help me. I wanted to ask if maybe there is a way I fight this or its my loss. Thank you.

I know that if I was in your position I’d want to fight this one. I understand that when you buy a second-hand car, particularly if it’s an import from a faraway country, things can be a little unpredictable. The obvious difference is that if you buy a second-hand car from a dealer here in Botswana you can test-drive it, ask some serious questions about its history and get your friend the mechanic to check it out for you. Then you can make a rational decision based on evidence.

It’s obviously very different with an imported car. You can’t sit in it, examine it or drive it. It’s much more of a gamble. That’s why it’s incredibly important when you buy a car from overseas that you get a really watertight agreement with the importer that protects your interests. That agreement must describe the condition of the car in some detail. If things go wrong you can then insist on the importer giving you what you paid for.

Your case depends entirely on what was in YOUR sale agreement. Did it say that the car was sold “as is” or “voetstoots”? If so then you might be in trouble. Otherwise I suggest you complain in writing to the dealer and give him something like 7 days to come up with some sort of solution. In your letter mention the obligation he had to offer you a vehicle that was “of merchantable quality”, a test this vehicle clearly fails. If he doesn’t cooperate then take your case to the Consumer Protection Unit and ask them to flex their muscles!

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