Saturday 25 January 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can’t I get my refund?

Please advise. I booked and paid for a return ticket from Gaborone to Joburg. The departure date was 29th December and return on 1st January. However, a few days before departure I was told that I might not use the same transport for my return trip and that they will make arrangements for me on a different bus and relay the information to me by 30th December, which they didn't, despite me making follow ups with them. I checked on them again on the morning of 31st and when they did respond I was told I had been booked on a bus that will be leaving Joburg at 12:30pm, something which didn't sit well with me since I wanted an earlier bus. I told them that I will make my own arrangements and requested for a refund but my request was declined, citing that it's against their policy, and that I will use the ticket next time I travel with them. The thing is, I have no plans to travel to Joburg anytime soon and definitely not with them. Now my question is, are they right to refuse me a refund?

Are they right to refuse you your refund? I think that depends very much on the conditions you agreed to when you bought the ticket. If the Terms and Conditions say clearly that no refunds are payable, and you acknowledged them before you agreed to buy the ticket, then that’s how things must be. But did you actually agree to these conditions?

(I asked this consumer whether she had actually seen the terms and conditions and she said:

“I was told about the receipt having the T & Cs just 2 days before departure and I was in Francistown by then and was only going to arrive in Gaborone on Saturday evening for the Sunday morning departure. I was initially told that I will be sent the receipt after I made the payment, so I guess I could have been aware of the T & Cs well in time should they have done so.”

It seems to me quite clear. How could you have agreed to these conditions when you weren’t aware of them? The good news is that Section 25 of the new Consumer Protection Act says that a supplier must give the consumer “a copy of the written contract, at the time the transaction between the supplier and the consumer is entered into”. Not the following day, not a week later, at the time you agreed to it. Those terms and conditions were critical parts of the contract you signed with this bus company and they failed you by not telling you about them on the day you bought the ticket, instead of some days later. I suggest you tell the bus company this and see if they want to face a fine of up to P100,000 or serve a term of up to five years in prison. Or both!

Was it just my mistake?

I made a stop order of P100 from my current to my savings account in June 2013. I erroneously wrote a wrong account beneficiary account number by 1 digit. The money went to the person I don't know. I have been checking the account and just thought the stop order didn't materialize up until I realised this in 2019 and reported the matter to the Bank. After a long investigation the bank has written to saying that can't refund me. What's painful is that they know the person who got my money. They told me that the person is saying he can only give me P100 per month for 6 yrs. Please on how I can go about this case. I have already reported to the police and they are also taking too long to help.

I agree with them that yes I have made a mistake. My worry is why is the bank not accepting that they are also at fault because they have 2 people who checked and approved the application. Why could the fail to check that the beneficiary name and account number doesn't match.

I agree with you that the bank should obviously have checked that the beneficiary name matched the account number you gave. However, it’s not the first time I’ve heard this. In fact I’ve heard of similar situations many times. Here’s a question for all the bankers reading The Voice this week. Is this normal practice? Is it so difficult to check that the name on the instruction is the same as the name in your incredibly expensive, top-of-the-range computer system? You know, the system WE, your customers paid for?

I’ve contacted the bank in question to see what they say. Yes, you made a mistake when you completed the stop order instruction and you made an even bigger mistake by not checking your account for six years, but this could easily have been avoided if the bank had spent just a couple of seconds helping you to prevent an expensive mistake!

Saturday 11 January 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my charger?

I took my laptop to an IT shop in Game City to get the charging system replaced. I was charged P800 which I paid which was said to be price for the new charging system and installation. When I came back the following day it couldn't switch on and when the assistant used a different charger it switched on, which meant that my charger was also dead. I was told that the new Dell charger was P350 which I did not have at the time. Later I went back and bought a "supposed" Dell charger for P350 which was said to have a 1 year warranty. I insisted it got tested and my laptop could not switch on, after the new charger cable was changed it switched on. When I got home my laptop couldn't switch on, I went back to the store the following day and I told the owner the problem and he tested it and it did not switch on. He tried different chargers but it still could not switch on, I asked the shop owner why the charger wasn't written Dell and he said it's because it is a replacement, something he did not write on the receipt, on the receipt he wrote a Dell charger.

I told him that I needed an original Dell charger and that my laptop has never been ok since he replaced the charging system and the charger. He said that I could've read his terms and conditions which state that there isn't any warranty for technical issues.. I told him that I would take legal action against him and he said he has terms and conditions but we ended up reaching a conclusion that he checks what the problem is and if it is with the charging system he would replace it and if it isn't he would not be liable.

I said if it has any other problem that would be a result of the charging system then he would be liable and he said that the law cannot do anything to him and I did not know how the Consumer Protection Act protects me.

I keep calling one of the shop assistants to ask if my laptop is fixed yet but it is said to have not been touched ever since I dropped it off. The shop owner does not pick my calls. Please assist me in this matter. Thank you.

I contacted this store and explained a few things to them.

I started by reminding them, because I’m sure they knew this already, that Section 17 of the new Consumer Protection Act states that
“A supplier shall give a warranty on every new or reconditioned part installed during any repairs or maintenance work, and labour required to install it, for a period of three months after the date of installation of the part". 
I suggested that it is therefore unacceptable to deny that a warranty is not offered on any goods or services that are repaired.

I went on to remind them that Section 23 of the Act also states that a supplier
"shall not enter into a contract, agreement or any other arrangement with any consumer … which … requires a consumer … to • to waive any right” or “to waive any liability of the supplier”.

I then asked them if it was true that the charger she believed was from Dell was in fact not manufactured by Dell because that would also be a breach of the Act?

They offered her a new Dell charger.

Can they copy my card?

Microlenders and cash loans have a trend of asking their customers to provide a copy of the ATM card and the copy usually has both the front and the back part. Isn’t this illegal? Isn’t this almost the same as taking the card itself?

I think it’s so close to being the same that it’s wrong. Possibly even against the rules.

The danger is that even though the lender doesn’t have the card and can’t use it in an ATM as some microlenders used to do, they still have all the information necessary to transact online. They have your full name, card number and the CVV number and there’s nothing to stop them using that information to spend all your money online. It’s a massive breach of card security and if they were to misuse your card, you bank wouldn’t help you. You disclosed the information to a third party and it’s therefore your fault, the bank would say, if the money was spent inappropriately.

(The text below was taken from the NBFIRA web site showing the rule that micro lenders are not permitted to take a borrower's card.)

So here’s a request. If this has happened to you, please get in touch, send me the details and we’ll see how interested NBFIRA are?