Saturday 23 November 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can I get my deposit back?

Good day kindly assist here

On the 27 July I paid a lay bye for a 55 inch LED television valued at an amount of P3,200. I paid a deposit of P200 for the television. The months for lay bye was indicated to be six months. Later around the month of October I went back to them and indicated that I want to cancel my lay bye as I don't think I will be able to pay the outstanding balance.

I further requested that I rather use the money I had paid as a deposit to buy something else, an electric fan to be precise, but they explained that they are not going to refund, nor exchange for the lay bye I have made.

Kindly assist.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can be of much help.

When you buy something using a lay-bye, the store effectively puts aside the product for you until you’ve paid the full amount by way of instalments. The store is taking a slight risk because they could sell it to someone who has all the cash. They will also be concerned that you might fail to pay the full amount, delay the payment or cause them trouble some other way. In your case I assume they’ve now stored the TV for four months, incurring costs they hadn’t planned for.

What’s worse is that the receipt they gave you made it very clear that no refunds or exchanges would be possible when you first started the lay-bye. From what you say it seems that you’ve only lost P200 which, while it’s obviously irritating, isn’t a crisis.

The lesson? Always make sure you fully understand the obligations associated with what the law sometimes calls “deferred payment” schemes such as lay-byes and, even more importantly, hire purchase. And if you don’t understand the terms of such an agreement, don’t sign anything and don’t hand over any money!

Why can’t she return the TV?

I would like to enquire from you, My sister bought a television for my mother from a store at Gaborone station and when she arrived home she found that mother have already bought herself one. She went back to the store to exchange the television with a fridge but they refused. They said it is already second hand they can not take it. They won’t exchange with a fridge.

Today I called the manager and he asked me who I am to ask him why they won’t exchange for her. He said he won’t talk to me but rather Consumer Affairs.

Kindly help us on this matter.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can offer you very good news either. Clearly the store manager needs to learn some diplomatic skills but did the store do anything wrong when they sold your sister the TV? From what you say, they sold her a TV in good faith, they didn’t lie to her about its condition, its features and the functions it offered or the terms of the warranty. They didn’t deliver a TV that was faulty or that didn’t work properly for the duration of the warranty period. As far as I understand, they stuck to all the laws that protect consumers to the letter, didn’t they?

If they had done any of these things your sister would certainly have a right to return the TV for one of the three Rs, a repair, replacement or a refund. But they didn’t do this. The inconvenient truth is that consumers don’t have a right to change their minds. Of course, there are some stores that allow you to return certain items without any fuss but that isn’t a right, that’s just very good customer care. That’s also why their products are more expensive.

Like I said, in your case I don’t think there’s much you can force the store to do. They’re right when they say that the TV is now second-hand and there’s no legal way they can sell the TV as new and get a full price for it. Has your sister considered selling the TV herself? I suspect she get a good price for a TV in its original, good as new state? It’s probably worth a try.

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