Saturday 19 December 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my money?

I've been scammed of P36,000 by a furniture store in Francistown.

At the beginning of November I had identified a lounge suite at their store. They had the maroon and dark brown colours on display. The staff then informed me that they do sell this sofa set in black too. Towards the end of November I went back to the store to confirm they still had the black one, they insisted I pay ASAP as the sofas are running out.

I then decided to purchase the black leather lounge suite from them on the 27th of November. After having sent the money directly to the company account they informed me that they do not sell a black version of the sofa set even though they had been telling me for weeks before that they did.

I then asked for a refund and they have been sending me back and forth between their head office in SA. It's now 2 weeks later and we still have not received our money. They have also been trying to convince me to accept a different sofa set of which I did not want.

I have now already gotten another sofa at a different store and I would just like my money back.

What actions can I take to ensure I get my funds back?

You can complain. Loudly. Very loudly.

You don't need to be an attorney to understand that you had a contract with the furniture store which both parties agreed to and which THEY then broke. They agreed to supply you with a black lounge suite and took a huge amount of your money in return. Then they broke that agreement.

They also ignored their obligations under the Consumer Protection Act. Section 7 (6) and 7 (7) of the Act says that when "goods or services are not availed as advertised, the consumer shall have the right to cancel the contract" and that "the supplier shall refund the consumer the amount paid". The Act does NOT say that they are permitted to take two weeks to do this. It does NOT say that they can keep your money for as long as they like.

I've contacted the store's Head Office and I'm confident they'll see that their store has badly let you down and get you your refund very soon.

Where's my money too?

Late January somebody hit my car from behind. They had insurance and in early February I was asked by the insurance company to take my car for assessing at a repair shop. I did this and delivered the quotation for just over P13,000 to their office. I was asked to submit all my KYC documents online which I did. I have been following up constantly with them by phone calls and emails since May but still am waiting for the claim to be paid. I have called over 30 times to follow up but always get put on hold or am told they will return my call, which they have only done once but with no information to share with me. It has been 10 months now and I can't seem to get a result no matter how hard I try. Could you please help?

Someone who was trying to be difficult would argue that you are not the customer of the insurance company. The other driver, the one who paid for the insurance policy is their customer and their obligation is to help them, not you. But I disagree. Their customer damaged your vehicle and their job is to protect the other driver's interests by honouring their insurance policy and paying you what you deserve. If they fail to do so, you'll be entitled to take legal action against the other driver and demand payment from them, not the insurance company. Do the insurance company want their client being dragged to court because of their incompetence? Do they really want their customer to report them to NBFIRA for failing to honour their obligations? Do they really?

I've emailed the CEO of the insurance company to see if he can intervene and encourage his colleagues to offer a decent service. If that doesn't work then you and the other driver should combine forces and report them to NBFIRA.

Saturday 12 December 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

What should I do?

I need help. So I borrowed P5,000 from microlender last year November so on the contract I was supposed to pay P497 per month for the next 24 months. So for the past 4 months I haven't paid them or they haven't deducted money for my account so I was also at fault for neglecting to pay.

Now they have hit me with a notice last week saying that they will bring debt collectors at home or at work. I sent them an email trying to tell them they can start deducting double the amount till I cover my arrears but I got no response, I tried contacting them on Facebook and WhatsApp numbers but no luck. I do not have a phone at the moment so I can't call them. What's the next option for me because I don't want court stuff.

Firstly, you've done the right thing by not trying to escape your debts. Many people in your position go into denial and pretend that their debts don't exist and pray that if they stay silent long enough the problem will go away. However, they soon learn that this NEVER happens. Debts don't disappear if you ignore them, they get even bigger and will come back to make your life very difficult. Even more difficult than before.

The most important thing is to keep trying to contact them and when you finally talk to them, do your best to negotiate a repayment plan that you can afford and which the company can accept. The good news is that almost always a company like this will be prepared to talk terms with you. Yes, you've frustrated their plans to make lots of money from you by defaulting on your repayments but I bet they would prefer to get their money from you slowly rather than get nothing at all.

I'll also get in touch with them and see if they can contact you to discuss this further.

The bigger lesson is to avoid microlenders at all if you can. They can be an extremely expensive way to borrow money. For example, from the paperwork you've sent me, I can see that you borrowed P5,000 last year and have so far paid them a total of P4,473. However, once you add in the interest they were charging you have only reduced the principal amount you owe to P3,200. If nothing had gone wrong and you repaid everything on time you would have aid them a total of P11,928 to borrow P5,000 over just two years.

You've only paid off P1,800 of the amount you owed and you've paid them an extra P2,673 in interest and fees. And then it gets worse. Once you add in all the other things you owe them because you defaulted, your outstanding debt is now P5,989.94. That's a very expensive way to borrow money.

Where's my refund?

I made a purchase of a couch at a furniture store on the 1st of August this year 2020 for P5,519 and they failed to deliver. I requested a refund on the 8th October and they failed to refund me til now. What can I do?

You can lose your temper, that's what you can do.

Obviously I don't mean you should be aggressive or rude but you are entitled to be angry. You're also entitled to express that anger. You're entitled, I would even say you're obliged to stand up for your rights.

The simple fact is that you paid them a large amount of money more than four months ago for an item that hasn't been delivered. I know the store will probably talk about Covid and border problems and those are reasonable observations but that doesn't excuse them from keeping you informed. In fact, they had an obligation to do that.

Section 14 of the Consumer Protection Act requires a supplier like this store to deliver goods in a timely manner. It also says that the supplier must give you "timely notice of any unavoidable delay". Clearly they need a little education about their obligations to keep customers informed. I also believe that they should deliver the refund in a "timely" manner.

Let's help educate them, shall we?

Saturday 5 December 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can I get a refund?

Good afternoon. I bought a demo vehicle from a dealer in Gaborone in February 2020 and have never had peace with the vehicle. My major problem with the vehicle is the excessive wear and tear of the tyres, especially the front ones. I had immediately reported the matter to the dealer and only now they want to replace the tyres, with the same brand, which I am not comfortable with.

Furthermore, I had wanted to test drive a similar car to compare the ride comfort, something that has not happened up to now.

I have now reached a stage that I don't want the car anymore as it is not satisfactory. Please advise if it is possible to claim back my deposit of P100k that I paid when purchasing the vehicle.

I don't think you have a right to demand a refund. At least not now. Yes, I understand that the car has given you problems but the dealer is within their rights to do their best to repair the problem you presented. Once. 

The Consumer Protection Act says that when a product such as a car like yours has a problem during the warranty period the dealer has a right to decide what they want to do, choosing from three options. They can offer you a repair, a replacement or a refund, the three Rs. Clearly any sensible supplier will choose the simplest and cheapest option for them which is to try and repair the problem. They have the right to do that and I think that's what you should allow them to do. Give them that chance.

Then things change. If a supplier repairs something and the same problem reoccurs within the next three months, the dealer then only has two options. We're down to just 2 Rs, a replacement or a refund.

I suggest you let them try to fix the problem with the tyres and then keep an extremely close eye on the tyres for the next three months. If there's even a hint of the same problems go back to the dealer for a much better solution.

Can I get a refund too?

I want to know like when you ordered something online and you went to the agents but they tell you that your goods are soon to arrive and now the month is about to end and still nothing pops up can you like ask for refund? It was supposed to take 3 months to arrive but after 3 months when I asked them they said there were some delays. Mind you this 3 months ended in September so even today when I ask they still say maybe end of month.

Yes, you certainly can ask for a refund. Eventually.

Section 14 of the Consumer Protection Act says that when a supplier "undertakes to perform any services for or on behalf of a consumer, the consumer has a right to … timely performance and completion of those services". The Act doesn't say what "timely" means exactly and actually I don't think the law should say what it means. Things vary. Fixing a gearbox takes longer than selling airtime. Getting a home loan takes longer than getting cash from an ATM. However, I think we all know when something is NOT timely.

We all know that things have been difficult for everyone this year and in particular for deliveries from overseas. We all understand this but the Consumer Protection Act goes further than just saying things should be delivered in a timely manner. It also says that a supplier must give you "timely notice of any unavoidable delay". It also says that when "a supplier fails to perform a service to the standards" the consumer has a right to a very simple thing. A refund.

Let's both approach this company and make it clear that they've had enough time, they haven't cared for you in the way they should and they owe you your money. It's not too difficult to understand.

Saturday 28 November 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my refund?

I paid for material on Monday 16 November. The material was available and I arranged for collection on a later date which was supposed to be 18 November after making transport arrangements. When I went to collect it the lady at the till told me that they had sold my material and when I asked them if they would deliver they said we would have to call the shop owner on that. We called the shop owner and he cut the call short and also switched off his phone. When I asked the supervisor to give me back my money as well as my transport cost he refused and told me they don't have money in the store to give back to me. I'm running a project in Jwaneng and the material is needed here urgently.

This is unacceptable. Not just a little bit unacceptable but completely unacceptable. It's also incompetent, disrespectful and useless.

You paid for something and had a right to expect what you paid for. That's not difficult to understand. The fact that they later sold the items you had paid for to someone else is a sign of their incompetence and lack of respect. The choices they face are simple. Either they give you exactly the products you paid for or they give you a refund. No excuses, no stories, no fooling around. And the manager refusing to take your calls? It's simple. Never buy from them again and make sure all your friends, relatives, neighbours, workmates, people you meet at parties, passers-by in the street and complete strangers know about your experience. They should only buy from them again when YOU have decided to forgive them.

Meanwhile, let's both attack them from both sides. You keep trying with the manager and the other staff and I'll do the same. Let's get you what you deserve.

Update: It didn't take long. I messaged them explaining how they had let you down and they responded, saying "Tnk u we will refund".

They blacklisted me!

I need your help. I just found out that I have been blacklisted by a furniture store for P15,000. I'm surprised because I have never had an account with them. I decided to check with their branch in Molepolole where I was told the account belonged to another person. The retail store that blacklisted my name is at Palapye and the record even shows an id number that is not mine. This id number belongs to the said person.

I need your intervention because my credit record is ruined by a retail outlet that I have NEVER set my foot in.

Again, this is unacceptable. It's also remarkably simple. Or it should be.

We all understand that mistakes happen, we all make them sometimes and the same is true for the companies we buy things from. They make mistakes too because they employ imperfect human beings like you and me.

However, it's 2020 and I expect there to be ways for companies to prevent mistakes and to fix them when they occur. Surely there are ways of checking who a company registers with a credit reference bureau? Surely they double-check people's identities before they register them? Surely they take a little care before ruining someone's financial reputation?

I contacted the furniture store and alerted them. Obviously they need to check the truth of this and double check their records but I expect them to fix this quickly. Not when they feel like it. Quickly. Hours, not days, not weeks.

They also need to make sure that your credit history isn't just updated, it needs to be cleaned so no record of this mistake can ever be seen again. Your reputation needs to be restored.

Saturday 21 November 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where are my bags?

I need your help here. My bags got lost in a bus in September and the conductor told me not to report at their office because he was not told to help anyone to offload. So he promises to help me locate my bag till today. Then on the 3rd week I searched for their office number and got hold of someone there he promised he will assist. I waited for whatever the help he was to offer but nothing happened. I then decided to call them again and they told me to quantify my clothes of which I did and promised they will pay me. It was after 4 days of me calling them again to ask how far and he told me they can't help because they don't have insurance over whatever gets in their bus.

The question that arises was why did they ask me to quantity and promised to pay then changed and never told me till I called. I told them why don't you pay me and deduct from your conductor since he admitted its his fault. Again I was promised to be paid but never did. I called this morning and asked to talk to their supervisor and the man in the office said he will connect us after 1 but he didn't. I called and he was about to knock off and said he will give my supervisor my number but never did.

How do I go about this? I need your assistance here.

Clearly this company has a problem with communication. And with decision-making. And with taking responsibility for their mistakes. And with customer service. In fact, I wonder whether they should be in business at all.

Here's a serious question. Why don't they have insurance? Do they have any insurance at all? If not, are they insane? What happens if there's a serious accident? What happens if there's a tragedy and a passenger is injured or even killed? Do they have no insurance against that either? Frankly a transport company that doesn't have insurance shouldn't be operating.

And another thing. They should stop changing their mind. They said they'd compensate you and they should do that. They've recognized that it was their conductor's fault and they should take responsibility for that. Personally I don't think the conductor should pay, he's hopefully learned from his mistake and he was acting on behalf of his employer when the mistake happened. Obviously if he does it too often he needs to be dealt with but for now the company needs to step up.

I've also had trouble getting decent feedback from them but maybe seeing the story here will help them do the right thing?

Where's my phone?

I bought a Samsung J6 phone on the 18th May 2019. The price for the phone was P2,495. I used the phone for about six months then it froze while charging it. On the 5th December 2019 I went back to the shop and reported the problem. It was inspected and taken for repair by their technician. They promised that my phone would be fixed within seven working days or I will be given a new phone if fixing does not materialise. The phone was still under warranty of 12 months. From December last year up to date I have not received my phone. They are always narrating stories barring me from seeing the shop owner but failing to give me my phone or a new phone. I always call the shop and sometimes travel to Gaborone to pick up my phone but nothing has ever worked. The always make numerous excuses and promises which they never fulfil.

Please help me. I want my money back because I don't trust the company anymore.

This is completely unacceptable. They promised you a repaired phone within 7 days and instead, on the day this newspaper is published, they will have had it for 350 days. Three hundred and fifty days. That's FIFTY times longer than they promised. That's FIFTY times more useless than they should have been.

The time is now right to be FIFTY times more angry than you already are. I've also contacted the store and between us I think we need to be FIFTY times louder than you have been in the past.

The solution is simple. They promised you a solution with seven days, they've taken three hundred and fifty and now they have a new deadline. Seven HOURS from the time they read this column.

Saturday 14 November 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where are my bricks? And where's my money?

May you kindly assist me with this problem? I bought some stock bricks from a certain supplier in the village where am building. I engaged the inspectors from District Council who upon inspection said the bricks were not strong enough and hence not suitable for building. I informed the supplier

I had already paid a little over P12,000. He promised to refund me. Without my consent, he collected the bricks which I suspect have been sold again but to date I haven't received any monies. This happened in Jul. Kindly asking if you could help me get my money. Thanks in advance. 

There's a word for this. Stealing. You paid for those bricks so they now belong to you. Even though they have been declared unfit for use in your project by your local officials, they still belong to you and anyone who takes your property without your consent or legal authority is a thief. One option you might want to consider is to call the police and lay a charge of stealing. However, that might be a little too extreme and there's a chance that if you get an unsympathetic police officer they might just say it's a civil matter and they can't intervene.

The second option is to use the legal system to help you. You can approach the Small Claims Court about this and they might be able to assist. The good news for us all is that from 18th September this year the amounts the Small Claims Court can consider increased from P10,000 to P30,000 so you have a very good chance of getting your money.

Your third choice is to lodge a complaint with the Competition and Consumer Authority who have the power to demand they supplier fixes this problem or face a fine of up to P100,000, a prison term of up to five years, or both.

Or we could just write about in the nation's most widely read newspaper and then publish it in a Facebook group that has 147,000 members. Which option do you think scares suppliers the most? I think we all know the answer, don't we?

Meanwhile I've already contacted them for you. Let's see what choice they prefer.

P.S. Well done to the Small Claims Court people for increasing our access to justice, it's a great move.

My car is the wrong year!

I have an issue here. I bought a new car having been told it was a 2019 manufactured vehicle but to my surprise the car came as a 2018 model but the sales urgent continued to say it's a 2019 vehicle. Even the registration booked is registered as 2019. Also I insured it as 2019 vehicle. I was surprised to see manufacturer sticker after a year saying it's a 2018 manufactured vehicle. I now feel cheated.

What can I do?

You also have several options. Firstly you can complain to the Competition and Consumer Authority and suggest that this supplier broke Section 5 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act of 2018 when they represented that the vehicle was
"of a particular standard, quality, value, grade, composition, style, model, or that the goods have a particular history". 
You can also mention that they broke Section 10 (a) when they failed to 
"provide information which is accurate, clear and complete in relation to goods and services offered to consumers". 
Finally, if you saw an advertisement for this vehicle you can also claim that they broke Section 7 (6) when they sold you something that was not "not availed as advertised". Breaking all of these rules could get the supplier a fine of up to P100,000, five years enjoying His Excellency's hospitality, or to both.

Or we could just write about this in the nation's most widely read newspaper and then publish it in a Facebook group that has 147,000 members. What do you suggest?

Meanwhile I'll get in touch with them and see if they can't avoid such unpleasantness.

Saturday 7 November 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay?

In June 2020 I applied for a home wifi that was for a term of 36 months. Some time in August they cut my connection because I had missed a month without paying. Around the same time I got connected with another provider as a work benefit. Since I was using the new one I disconnected the old one.

Last week I got a bunch of bills from my mail box and to my surprise I was being billed for the months after the disconnection, without any communication whatsoever. Basically I was being billed for a service I was currently not getting. I immediately went to their office to ask them to stop billing me as I was no longer using the internet. I was told to pay the balance (that is the bills for when I was disconnected) and then I would get disconnected.

Today I went to pay the full balance and asked to be disconnected. A supervisor instructed the technician not to disconnect me saying I should first pay the full amount of the remaining 3 year contract! That is P15,616 that I must pay now in order for them to stop billing me and disconnect!

I would really appreciate it if you could please help me get out of this jam!

Yes, this is a jam. It's a sticky mess that it might be hard to clean.

The simple fact is that you signed a 3-year contract and unless there is some sort of escape clause, termination clause or right to cancel written in the contract then you're stuck. The supplier will argue that both parties entered into the contract freely and without any pressure and with full knowledge of the terms and conditions. However, in real life we all know this isn't the case. I bet the people selling you the contract didn't mention that it was a 3-year contract with no escape. I bet they neglected to tell you that.

However, the good news is that the new Consumer Protection Act might be on your side. Section 24 of the Act says that a supplier "shall ensure that every term and condition in a contract is brought to the attention of the consumer". It goes on to say that the supplier must "explain the implications of the terms and conditions … before the consumer makes a decision to consent to the terms and conditions". Did they do that? Did they explain what every term meant?

Finally, the same section of the Act says that they must ensure that the customer consents "by signing or initialling next to each term and condition that the consumer consents to". I bet they didn't do that, did they?

Let's both get in touch with your supplier and see if they're aware of their new legal obligations. I bet they're not!

Is he real?

I met a guy online two months back, so yesterday he video called me and told that he sent me a package. This morning I received a WhatsApp text from Botswana number telling me that my package from UK has arrived. So the courier wants me to deposit an amount P3,200 in to their orange money account that's when they can deliver the package.

They said "Hello, good morning my name is Michael Adams a diplomatic agent, I just want to inform you that the parcel sent to you from, London UK has arrival botswana Airport and you have to pay p3,200 for the clearance charges, after the payment to the bank I will delivery your parcel to your home address

I am right now Airport ( Botswana) And am in the Cargo departments with a parcel."

So I just thought of scammers. Am I right?

Yes, you most certainly ARE right. There's no doubt this is a scam. But it's a scam with a difference. We've seen these "romantic scams" before when someone claims to send a package and then an "agent" gets in touch demanding money to release the package. We've also seen scams involving Orange Money but this the first time I've seen the two combined. Clearly this is someone with access to Orange Money and I guess that means they're probably in Botswana. We have our own home-grown scammers and while I support local businesses this is NOT something to be proud of.

Whatever you do, don't send anyone any money and make sure you truly understand that nobody in this scam is real, least of all the guy you met online.

Saturday 31 October 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Will they clear my name?

In 2018 I owed a store some money since I had an account with them. During that year I stupidly didn't pay up my monthly debt. They ended up submitting my name as a debtor at ITC. In 2019 I started making payments towards my debt and I finished all the payments. I was paying through a debt collector in Botswana. I paid all the money and they even produced a letter showing my debt clearance. I called them the store telling them I had been cleared off their debtors and kindly requested if they could remove the flag against my record. Even now they still haven't waived the flag against me. It has now been a year.

I have some business ideas that require me to ask for assist from banks but all these banks remind me that I owe. I talk to them and they say I should talk to ITC for them to clear me. How best can I move from here? I'm strained financially from making international calls. Any positive help?

Unfortunately, I don't have any good news for you.

When you have a debt like yours the lender, in this case the store, is entitled to register that debt with a credit reference bureau. They can do this because you agreed that they could when you signed the original contract with them, it would have been in the small print of the agreement. The reason they do this is to warn other lenders that you are probably going to be a high risk if they lend money to you or offer you credit. If all lenders share this information then the overall risk to the entire industry goes down a little.

However, what they often forget to tell people is that even when you completely pay off a debt, your record will still show the debt for up to two years. That's because lenders also need to know about your recent history, not just the debts you currently have. I know this seems frustrating but it's actually in all of our interests for things to work this way. When someone fails to pay off a debt they might eventually be forced to repay it but in the meantime it's the other borrowers who pay the price.

My advice would be to put your business ideas on hold for a short period until you've stabilized your financial situation. That way you can start a business on a sound financial basis rather than being someone with a poor credit record.

Do I owe them?

I am a holder of a store credit card. Though I don't have proper records I have been holding the card for a long time. In brief I visited the store on the 24th May 2020 to purchase a vacuum cleaner which was costing around P830. I wanted to use my store card to keep it active as I knew I was not owing the store and to my surprise I was told that my card was owing an amount of P61 of which I did not know. Following that I opted to pay cash and further settled the P61. Today I went to Game stores to inquire of the alleged pending balance which is said to be more than P200 by a guy I spoke to over the phone alleged to be in South Africa, still I can't get answers as to why my account is still accumulating these funds.

I am really not happy because the South African guy told me that my account will continue accumulating money, and I was denied the opportunity to see the store manager and advised to come on Friday.

I don't like store cards. In fact, I REALLY dislike store cards. Firstly, they're a hugely expensive way to buy things. The stores tell us that their cards are about convenience, simplicity, rewarding loyalty and helping customers but they're really just a way to lend us money at very high interest rates. And they often have some deeply unpleasant terms and conditions.

You are now seeing the effect of those conditions. For some reason you owed them a mere P61 and within days it's become P200. That amount will grow and grow until they're convinced you've paid them everything they can squeeze from you. I think you should contract the store manager and insist of an explanation for the P61. I know you said that you were denied the opportunity to meet with the manager but I've emailed them and I'm sure they'll change their mind and let you have a conversation.

And the final suggestion is a simple one. Once you've paid everything they can prove you owe them, cancel the card. In future buy things only with money you have, not money you're borrowing from the store.

Sunday 25 October 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can she get a refund or a replacement?

My wife bought a phone from a store at the Station Mall with high purchase and she collected the phone on the 30th July. On the 6th September the phone went off and refused to power on. On 7th she took it back to them and they took it for fixing somewhere in Commerce Park so she spent the whole month without a phone. They gave it back to her on the 6th October. On 16th October in the morning the phone did the same thing so she returned it back to them again asking for a refund or a new phone but they refused to both of those and said they are takin it back again for fixing of which they are saying it should be a minimum of 21 days. In the mean time there is nothing they can help her with but she is paying her monthly instalments.

So my question is what can she do in dis situation and how can you advice or help her?

Unacceptable. Totally unacceptable. This store needs a quick lesson in Consumer Protection Act 2018. 

Section 15 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that goods must be "of good quality, in good working order and free of defects". Clearly this phone wasn't in good working order when it failed the first time. Section 16 (3) of the Act says that when a product is faulty the supplier is required to offer their customer one of the 'three Rs', a refund, replacement or a repair but it's up to the store to decide which of those they offer her. They were within their rights to try and repair it. However, I wonder how competent the repair people are if it takes a month to fix a basic phone problem but maybe they'll say that Covid-19 delayed thing. It's possible, let's be charitable.

However, the Consumer Protection Act goes further. Section 16 (4) says that when "a supplier repairs goods returned by a consumer … and within three months the same problem recurs", they can now offer only TWO Rs, a refund or a replacement. They only get one chance to repair the item. If they fail to repair it the first time, the customer gets their money back or a replacement.

I suggest your wife goes back to the store and explains this to them. She can be their Consumer Rights Teacher for the day. If they fail to listen to her lesson we can ask the Competition and Consumer Authority to get in touch with them and flex their muscles. Meanwhile I've already contacted the store's Regional Manager so maybe we won't need to get too aggressive?

What can be done about my car?

I need assistance as I had purchased a vehicle from a local import car dealer and its has been giving me problems since the first week and the dealer is nowhere to be found.

We agreed 3 months warranty but the car gave me problems before the lapse. He took the car in for repairs but he then disappeared for a month saying he is still fixing it. The car drove for more than 600km when it was with him. I then told him I want my money back and he then told me the car is okay and he then sent someone else to give me the car unfixed and it was even worse than it was before and some parts and accessories of the car are missing. Since then he has been ignoring my calls and Whatsapp messages.

I don't often suggest this but I think you need to contact the Police. They might tell you that it's a civil matter but I think you should stand your ground and make it clear that he appears to have taken parts from the vehicle and has "obtained by false pretence" when he sold you the car. I understand that the charge might not stick but a phone call from a persuasive police officer might apply a little pressure.

Do you think a call from Consumer Watchdog telling him that we'll continue to cover the story in The Voice until he fixes it might help as well?

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my bed?

Good morning Richard! I bought a bed on laybye. I was to pay for 6 months then I cleared all the payments within two months but when it was time to deliver the bed they told me it was rainy so they will have to wait to avoid it from being damaged by the rain and I understood. Five days passed without rain but my bed has not been delivered. I called them and asked why they didn't deliver? I was told that they have no stock so I have to wait again. So my question was can I get a refund because I really need the bed urgently? Please help. 

I suppose we should thank the company for not delivering the bed during the rain. That was kind of them. I think.

However, that's where their kindness seems to end and their uselessness began. Yes, it's been raining a little bit recently but hardly enough to stop a store from delivering your bed. Haven't they heard of weather forecasts? Don't they have a weather app on their phone? I suspect that was just a cover story to hide something else, that they didn't have the bed you'd bought in stock.

That's just incompetent and the store needs to remedy this situation immediately. They either need to deliver your bed today (which obviously they can't because they don't have one) or they need to give you your money back so you can take it to a store that's going to treat you with a little respect.

Is it really that difficult to ship someone a bed they've already paid for? I sometimes wonder why some stores exist if they can't even do basic things like deliver a product.

I'll also get in touch with the store's Head Office and see if they can't help the store do the right thing.

Must I go online?

I have been banking with my bank from 1996 to date. Just of recently they have introduced this electronic system to which they force everyone to use but due to some circumstances beyond my control I can not join it simply because the other shareholders are abroad and cannot be here to authorise this change.

I submitted salaries for my employees last week Tuesday up to this moment thy haven't been paid. I went to the bank and they have promised to do it but it's another day going without them been paid. I asked them if they can give me a cheque book so I can pay them using cheques they said they no longer issue check books.

I did my best to leave the bank without ripping the place apart and appear on news at 7. It shouldn't be a must that I should use internet banking. What if I don't want to? I'm willing to pay for all the charges so they leave the old system on.

Unfortunately, times change and while it's sometimes uncomfortable consumers need to move with the times. Cheque books are a thing of the past and that's actually a good thing in my view. Whether we like it or not the future of banking is electronic. Today and in the future we'll be interacting with our banks, insurance companies, cellular network providers and even our supermarkets using our cellphones and laptops. That's just how things work in 2020 and it's not going to change. It actually makes life a lot simpler and more secure.

In fact, I think you should embrace it. If you're running a company it's so much safer to pay your staff using your computer than it is the old-fashioned way. Spend a little time with your bank and I'm sure they'll help you understand how to use their online systems and you'll soon see how much easier your working life will become.

Finally, I don't see why your shareholders being overseas makes any difference. I'm sure the bank can contact them on your behalf and accept electronic instructions to make the necessary changes. I know the bank will accept such instructions because it's 2020. I also know this will happen because I bank with the same bank as you. If they can help me, they can help you too.

Saturday 10 October 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

When can I get my money back?

Dear Richard, please help. I am a customer of a panel beating busines. Three months ago I erroneously deposited P8,000 into their account which is linked to my account because of previous transactions. I approached the owner immediately after the transaction. The gentleman was furious and verbally abusive towards my request to return the money. He even went to an extent of threatening to refuse with my money and insinuated that if I want I can get a lawyer as I can't afford one.. It is an arid environment for every business and I would like to get my money back.

I have contacted him several times and he has continued to be verbally abusive and delaying the return of the money. Last I communicated with him he said he would deposit this past Friday but to date he has not. Is there a way you can assist?

This is completely unacceptable. At most it should take a couple of days to reverse a transaction like this. I contacted the guy and he responded, telling me that "there was a fraudulent transaction for the same amount occurred on my account, my bank is attending to this they now require a proof of his transfer into my account". Ok, if that's true, it might be a good reason why the repayment might be delayed by a couple of extra days, but certainly not by three months. Also, you and I both know that you sent him the proof of payment a long time ago.

He then said that "this person has not paid by EFT into my business previously" and I know that's untrue because you sent me details of previous occasions when you'd paid him electronically.

When I mentioned that I would be reporting about this issue in The Voice he responded by saying that "you may take this to The Voice as the error is not mine and there are procedures to be adhered to when returning erroneous EFT." Ok, I've now done that. It's now up to this guy to do the right thing and repay you your money.

Update: The money was finally repaid.

When can she get her phone back?

Please assist me. My sister bought an iPhone 8 from a company on Facebook 3 months ago. Just last week the phone was unable to get on network. We then took it to the company and told them the problem. They then said its because the phone fell. Mind you, this phone never fell. We put the screen protector and cover on day 1. Now the guy comes back and says he is fixing it. We asked him whats wrong and he keeps changing stories and being very rude to me and my sister. We bought the phone for P7,250. And this is apparently a new phone. He had said it carries a 1 year warranty. He further claims he has taken it to a repairman yet in another conversation he said he isn't fixing it. 

Now they are insulting us. We tried going to ask for a receipt just now they threw us out. How can u help us or how do we get help?

Another supplier who doesn't care about their customers. I particularly dislike cellphone stores who whenever someone reports a faulty phone immediately blames the customer for dropping it or getting it wet, even when there's no evidence whatsoever. The fact that the store immediately decided to repair the phone shows that even they didn't believe their first excuse.

I messaged the store and the manager responded, "with due respect i dnt discuss business things on whatsapp kindly come to the office". I tried email instead and they seem to be ignoring that as well.

I suggest you contact the Competition and Consumer Authority and lodge a complaint with them. I've emailed a senior manager at the CCA to warn them expect your complaint. They're waiting to do their job and hopefully force this guy to show a little respect to the person who pays his bills.

Update: He emailed me saying "we took it to the guy who fix our phone for repair i cnt be sure when will the phone done bt as soon ask it is done  sh will be contacted to come collect her phone". Keep me updated!

Monday 5 October 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

My eggs!

In July I bought an incubator from a guy in Palapye. I loaded eggs for the first time and they fell to the bottom of the incubator and broke. I reported it and sent pictures and he promised to replace it with a new one the following Tuesday. In the meantime, I had fresh eggs from the farm which had to be incubated within 10 days. He later asked to change to Thursday and he now wanted to fix it, and I refused and told him to stick to our agreement.

My husband went to Palapye to return the incubator a few days later to swap and when he got to Palapye, there was no new incubator and instead he just replaced the motor on the one we were returning. I only noticed when it arrived that it was actually the same one. I however went ahead and loaded the eggs which were about to expire. Some had already expired by the time.

When I checked the incubator when I got back from the farm I noticed the exact same thing had happened. The whole bottom tray had dropped the eggs the previous day and the upper two trays were not turning properly. I immediately reported this and he promised to replace the incubator by the end of the week. After that he had stopped taking my calls and not responding to my Whatsapp messages but leaving them on read. I requested a refund because I could now see that the new incubator is not forthcoming and I was continuing to lose fresh eggs which needed to be incubated within 10 days or less.

I paid him P5,000 and was never supplied with a fully functioning incubator. I have lost more than 700 eggs so far and still counting. All I need is a refund so I can buy a new one from elsewhere and stop incurring further losses. Please help me Richard. What are my options?

Your options are simple. Section 15 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that goods must be "of good quality, in good working order and free of defects". Clearly that's not the case with your incubator. You followed the correct procedure when you returned it and allowed him to offer you one of the three Rs, a refund, replacement or a repair and he had the right to repair it. Once. The Act also says that if the same problem occurs again within three months the consumer can now demand either a replacement or refund. There's no second chance to repair something. So then he had just two options. Replace it completely or refund you and clearly he's decided not to replace it. So it's simple. It's refund time.

I've contacted him and explained the rules and we'll wait to see what he says. Maybe he likes the idea of being famous? I suspect not.

My shoes are falling apart!

I bought Timberland boots from a store for P1,200. I only wore the boot for 3 days after collecting and it was already showing signs of tearing. I returned the boot back to the shop and they took it and told me they will wait to hear from their boss who is the shop owner.

I waited and went back to them after two days and when I got there they told me their boss said he will discount it by P200. I told them that won't help as this is supposed to be a Timberland, the toughest shoe by far. I told them I would like to speak to the owner or they give me his numbers but they refused.

I returned to them again after a day after I told them I want my money back and they should tell him that but they're telling me a different story, that he said he won't discount neither would he also accept the shoe back as it looks like I misused it but the receipt are there to prove and the day I returned the shoe and it is still there at their store. The owner said he can't be contacted and doesn't want to meet up with me.

How can you help me with this situation?

I'm not an expert but I know Timberland has a reputation for producing footwear that is almost indestructible. I don't believe they start falling apart after only three days.

However, I think I know the reason why. I think they're fakes and I think this for a few reasons. Firstly, it's the simple fact that they're falling apart. Then there's the price. I checked online and genuine Timberland Shoes like the ones you bought cost at least twice as much as you paid. Then there's the final clue. Timberland told me so. I contacted them with the name of the store and they told me that this store isn't an authorised Timberland retailer. I think this store might end up in some serious trouble. They deserve it.