Saturday 30 November 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can I get my money back?

May I please have your advice. I bought a refurbished iphone 7 from one lady in August. The phone overheated and blacked out and now it will not switch on.

I took it to her technician and he said it is dead but told the lady I was impatient and did not give him time to check the phone. I then took it to another technician I know and he said the cpu is dead and needed replacing.

I have asked the lady for a refund because I currently don’t have a phone and I am very frustrated because she is not taking my calls properly and giving me late responses when she feels like it. What should I do?

Unfortunately, I suspect this might be a difficult problem to solve. Firstly, there is always a risk when you buy something second-hand, particularly if you buy it from an individual rather than a company. It’s perfectly possible that the woman who sold you the phone did so in good faith, believing the phone to be working properly. You might find that hard to believe, and perhaps she’s lying, but we can’t prove that, can we?

It also depends on how long it was between you buying the phone and it failing. If it failed the next day that might hint that the phone wasn’t “of merchantable quality”. If it failed three months later, that’s a different story.

The lesson is a simple one, for both the person selling a second-hand item and for someone buying it. Get it in writing. It doesn’t need to be a lengthy legal agreement, it can just be a simple statement that both parties sign, describing the item being sold and the condition it’s in. At least that way, both parties know what they’re committing themselves to and what they should expect.

Can they force me to pay?

Hello, I need advice on an issue I have with Banc ABC. I took a loan in 2011 and in 2013 I did a top up. Today they called me saying I owe them around P1,900 as interest from that loan. They said its interest for the first 2 months, they call it grace period, and I should have been told about it that sometimes during the cause of my payment that money would be deducted. They admitted that it was their fault, they should have informed me about it and the money be deducted from my top up loan. None the less they failed to do so now 6 years down the line they want me to pay the money. I told them that I can't be made to pay because of their negligence. So I'm I wrong to refuse to pay that money or I'm obliged to pay? Thank you in advance.

Unhappily, you’re not the first person to approach us about this issue. Several others have told us the same story. When they first took out the loan, many years ago, like you they were offered a so-called “grace period” of a month that would enable the customer to arrange the stop order needed to pay the loan instalments. However, the repayments during that period weren’t excused or forgiven, they were just delayed. They still had to be paid sooner or later. What then happened was that the bank apparently neglected to include those delayed payments before people believed they’d finished. People like you walked away thinking that the debt had been settled and the bank was, I think, careless in forgetting. And then even more careless for forgetting for so long. This is an issue they should have told you about within days or weeks, not years.

Unfortunately, the bank’s forgetfulness doesn’t mean you can walk away from the debt. Every loan agreement I’ve ever seen made it clear that the customer is also responsible for ensuring that the debt is repaid, not just the bank. That’s a really important lesson for all bank customers to understand and accept. No matter how inept a bank might be, we customers are also responsible for checking if mistakes happen, whether they’re ours or the banks.

However, given that the bank was the party that made the mistake, I think it’s up to them to be a little flexible about how and when you pay off this debt. They need to offer you the time to pay in a manner that doesn’t cripple your finances.

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