Saturday, 18 August 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay again?

I have been dealing with a certain garage and I feel they are ripping me off. My car was spilling fuel and I took it to them they said it was a pipe that was loose. They repaired the pipe and charged me P950, P650 being for towing and P200 for tightening the pipe. A week later it did the same and I took it back to them and they said the pipes were blocked and they wanted to charge P300 which I contested and they let me go. Now it has done the same after a week of so. They now say the pipes need to be replaced. I bought the pipes yesterday and they now want to charge me P650 for replacing the pipes I bought for P60. My issue now is they are charging me for the job they have charged me for again. They could have noticed that the pipes were old the first time I took the car to them. Please advise?

This might be a difficult one.

Section 15 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations requires that a supplier of a service must deliver those services “with reasonable care and skill”. The next section also states that the supplier has broken the rules if he or she “quotes scientific or technical data in support of a claim unless the data can be readily substantiated”. I get the impression that your mechanic might have failed to satisfy both of these requirements. He wasn’t able to fix the problem and is now making claims that he might not be able to justify.

However, the trouble is that he can claim, and this might even be true, that he was doing his best when he repaired the pipe and that he genuinely believed, based on his skills and experience, that it would fix the problem. I’m no expert on cars but I know that complicated technical matters can be very difficult to diagnose and fix. That goes for vehicles but also for computers, household appliances and even medical issues. The initial diagnosis isn’t always the final one.

I suggest that you should compromise. Why not suggest that, given that his initial suggestion didn’t work, he needs to be a bit more flexible rather than just run up a huge bill for you? If he fails to cooperate, then maybe we can escalate things a little.

They broke my phone!

I was in a supermarket and I picked a few items and I went to the till point to pay then I put my phone on top of the counter because I wanted to get money from my pocket. Then after she scanned 2kg washing powder she put it the counter and it pushed my phone and it fell and the screen got broken. I told the cashier she broke my phone and she said sorry and went on to say you were not suppose to put your phone on top of the counter. I said where is it written? She said its not written anywhere! I took seconds looking at the phone and the same cashier who broke my phone told me to move because I’m delaying people behind me who wants to pay. I told her how can you say that to me? You destroyed my phone what should I do she said she doesn’t know. Thats when I took the matter to the manager. So yesterday the manager called me and told me the fault is fine and they can’t fix my phone just like that. What can I do?

I suspect there’s not much you can do. I spoke to the management of the supermarket chain and their position was simple. They spoke to their staff and told me that because you were the one who placed your phone on the counter, a space reserved for shopping, that you were to blame for the damage to the phone. Their argument is that a consumer would have known the risk of putting a phone amongst shopping that was being scanned.

Unfortunately, while this might not seem very sympathetic by the store, I suspect it’s reasonable. The counter is a place for shopping to be moved around, not somewhere you place something as important and valuable as a cellphone. Sorry!

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