Saturday, 8 May 2021

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

I want a working fridge!

I bought a second-hand fridge in February from someone in Block 3 who repairs and sells fridges. After two days it stopped working. I told him to come pick it and refund me, he promised do so, but even now, he didn't, and he not picking my calls, please help me.

Despite what people might think, just because something is second-hand, that doesn't mean you have no consumer rights if it goes wrong. Of course, we must understand that a second-hand or repaired item isn't going to be quite a good or reliable as something new and we need to have sensible expectations. For instance, a 15-year old car isn't going to be as reliable as a new vehicle. An old laptop isn't going to last as long as a new one. A reconditioned fridge isn't going to be quite as good as a new one. That's just common sense but while a second-hand item might not still have the manufacturer's warranty the person selling it should still be as clear as possible what condition the item is in.

However, Section 14 (1) (c) of the Consumer Protection Act says that a consumer is entitled to:
"the use, delivery or installation of goods that are free of defects and are of a quality that consumers are reasonably entitled to expect".
That's the important thing in my view, "reasonably entitled to expect". We can't expect a second-hand and repaired fridge to be as good as a new fridge but I think we're "reasonably entitled to expect" a fridge that works reasonably well. It should certainly work for more than two days.

I contacted the fridge guy and asked him what he was planning to do to resolve this situation. All he could say was:
"Yeah only things wre not right bt dafnately by end of this months without failure lm going to give hr wht is hers of or before cs l delayed wth a project tht we wre doing".
I hope his fridge-mending skills are better than his keyboard skills. If you're willing, let's give him until the end of the month and see if he can do the decent thing.

I was sold a stolen laptop!

A guy in Palapye, a student at BIUST, he sells stolen items. He sold us a laptop for P7,500 in November. The Police called us and took it from us claiming it's a stolen item. The guy promised to make things right, to change it or return the money but up to this day he has done nothing. Now he doesn't even pick the calls, he's just a scammer.

This is serious. This is more than just a consumer issue, more than just a failure to offer good customer service. This isn't just a breakdown in communication or a failure to respect someone's consumer rights, this is receiving stolen goods and Section 317 of the Penal Code is very clear about the penalty for this. It says that any person
"who receives or retains any property knowing or having reason to believe the same to have been stolen … is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years".
I contacted the guy in Palapye and he didn't seem very concerned. He just said "the supplier isnt responding keeps postponing. he is in gabz". Unfortunately, I don't care. He sold you a stolen laptop and whether he was involved in the theft or not, he needs to treat this issue seriously and resolve it as quickly as possible.

If this guy has any sense, he'll do his best to distance himself from his supplier and give the impression he's an innocent victim of the criminal as well as you are. The best way he can do this is to give you either a full refund or a laptop that hasn't been stolen. Is that too much to ask? Or does he want to experience 14 years of official hospitality?

Saturday, 1 May 2021

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Should I get what I paid for?

In March 2017 I paid one graphic designer/communications designer for some services worth P60,000 and I paid him P50,000 upfront. It has now been more than a year, the ONLY thing he has submitted is a logo, business cards and one editable letterhead. I have not paid him the remaining P10k because we were retrenched last year November and I am unemployed. I need your advice here Sir. I feel like I should terminate the rest of his services and ask for my money back or find a way to pay the remaining balance. In this case also, what is the best approach because for that long I have been asking for the remaining work but he gets arrogant and I ended up paying extra fees for something that he has promised to do? I think I have spend more than P10k asking for the same services that were covered on the invoice.

I think this all depends on what you agreed that he would supply and what he's failed to deliver so far. What's clear is that he has failed to deliver part of what you agreed and I think you need to make it clear that you know your rights and are prepared to demand he respects them.

The good news is that the law is on your side. Section 14 (1) 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 (and) timely notice of any unavoidable delay".
Clearly he's failed to do that. Section 14 (2) also says that when a supplier fails to satisfy this requirement, they must
"refund the consumer a reasonable portion of the price paid for the services performed and goods supplied, having regard to the extent of the failure".
In other words if they only deliver half of the work, you're entitled to half of the money back.

However, there are some problems you might face. Firstly, you might have left this too long to take legal action against him. I'm not an attorney but I know that certain legal claims become 'prescribed' after certain periods. He might argue that you've left this too long and a court might agree with him. Also, he might also argue that the current Consumer Protection Act, which was passed in 2018 might not apply because you bought his services before the Act was passed. But let's not tell him that. Let's both tell him that you either want what you paid for, or a partial refund.

Which should I choose?

We have vehicle insurance and our car was mildly damaged at home when reversing, damaging the mirror, partially the front fender and door. The assessor told us we are at liberty to get quotes from our garage or that of the insurance company. The assessor says the damages amount to P7,000, which the Insurance can only pay P4,000 and we'd have to pay the excess. Our garage say they can fix the car for P3,500 but the insurance insists that we take the car to their garage citing issues like we're still going to pay the P3,500 excess even if we'd an option to go elsewhere. And that the Assessor is the one who determines which way to go. What should we do?

I disagree with what you've been told. It's up to YOU to decide what to do. The insurance company have their preferred garage which will charge P7,000 of which you must pay P3,000 or you can choose your own garage who are significantly cheaper but which will cost you P3,500 if you decide to pay for everything yourself and ignore the insurance policy.

We have to ask, why are the repair cost so different? What will the first garage do that the second one won't? Are they more experienced and might do a much better job? Or is it that the first garage does what many do and charge insurance companies a lot more than is necessary?

I think it's worth asking the insurance company to explain why their costs are so much higher and then asking the garage you found to explain why they are so cheap. Both you and the insurance company need to know why there's such a great difference.

Once all this is understood you can decide whether to allow the insurance company to take charge or whether you ignore them and do your own thing.