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?

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