Saturday 28 August 2021

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why can't they fix it?

Can I ask for an honest opinion. I bought a PS5 with controllers from a local retailer lest than six months ago. It was brand new with receipts and everything.

Then after few months noticed that the other controller had problems. I then contacted the seller and they advised I bring it back so they take it to Sony in South Africa for fixing since its under warranty from the manufacturer.

Yesterday I called the seller telling them its been 3 weeks without feedback on the progress but to my disappointment they tell me Sony states that they can not fix it and in short he can not help me in that regard. Apparently Sony SA states that they can not fix the joypads and he said customers have been complaining world wide about the controllers being faulty and he said Sony does not have a solution regarding them.

So I'm asking how do I go about such case because we buy these things expensively to be told we can not help you while there is a warranty/guarantee in place still valid. 

What's a polite way of saying 'silly'? 

Ok, let's not even try to be polite. The store is being silly. Very silly. It really doesn't matter whether Sony can or cannot repair the controller, Section 15 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that consumers have "the right to receive goods which are of good quality, in good working order and free of defects" and that if a supplier fails to offer this then we can return the goods. It then says that the supplier must "repair or replace the defective goods" or "refund the consumer the amount already paid as consideration for the goods".

In your case it's very simple. Apparently they can't repair the controller so they have just two options left, replace it or refund you.

And there's one last thing. They're lying to you if they suggest that Sony doesn't have a solution. Sony is an incredibly powerful brand that wouldn't dare to treat its customers this way.

I'll get in touch with the store and tell them what I think they should do.

Update: The customer had what he said was a "heated conversation" with the store manager who first demanded that he pay for a new controller. He stood up for his rights and eventually got a free replacement.

Will they refund me?

I cleared a loan from company X through a loan from company Y beginning of June. In mid June and end of June I was refunded the May and June instalments which I understood because the payroll was already closed. I hoped the last deduction would have been June but that was not the case. In July they deducted again and I had to wait for 2 weeks to be refunded after several daily calls. Even NBFIRA I reached out to them. Its August they have deducted again, the second mistaken deduction. This time around I want to take action against company X for the financial embarrassment and inconvenience they have put me through, also my credit status is in disrepute, not to mention the inconvenience because they take long to refund. I'm thinking of going the legal route, please advise.

You've been very tolerant. Perhaps even too tolerant!

You were tolerant and understanding in the first couple of months when you were beyond the payroll cycle deadline but it's not acceptable for this Company X to take so long to stop the deductions from your salary. It's really not that difficult to do, it's something that happens all the time.

You can of course follow the legal route but I don't think you'll need to go that far. I'm sure we can avoid the costs and bother of taking Company X to court. What scares smart companies more than legal threats is the thought that they might lose customers because of their incompetence. They really don't want you discussing their failure with your family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and random people you meet in the street. That's what really makes them anxious. I'm sure this will get sorted out quickly.

Update: The customer contacted Company X again and made sure they understood his rights. They promised to refund him within days. Let's see if they can keep their word.

Saturday 21 August 2021

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my money?

Afternoon Mr Harriman I need your help. I got a loan last year from my bank then they took 3 to 4 months without deducting then this end of July they deducted P1000 on top of the instalment saying they are paying arrears without my consent and my salary was P300 and they are saying the same thing is going to happen this month end.

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

The bank is entitled to catch up on the late instalments because that's what you agreed they can do when you signed the loan agreement. I bet if you look closely in the agreement it says that if they are so useless that they neglect to take the instalments when they said they would, they can catch up whenever they feel like it. That's how banks work.

It's also up to you to make sure there's always enough money in your account to honour your debts. I'm sorry if it sounds unsympathetic but it was also up to you to make sure that the instalments were paid. It would have been sensible to put the money somewhere safe when you realised the instalments weren't being paid. It was unwise to spend it when you knew the bank was owed that money.

The lesson from this is always to make sure that your bank takes the money you owe on the date you agreed it would be taken. If they fail to do so, you should contact them, give them a piece of your mind, remind them that 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". You also have a right to "performance of the services in a manner and quality that consumers are reasonably entitled to expect".

In 2021, I don't think it's too much to ask for a bank to take deductions when they agree to do so. But it's also up to us as consumers to make sure they do because if we don't, we're the ones that suffer.

Where's my refund?

I need your assistance. A few months ago I visited a local branding shop for their printing services. So they helped me and I then paid up front and waited for my order to be ready. When I was supposed to go and collect they always came up with excuses telling me that they are not done yet and will sort that out. I went to their office more often but still no sign of my order. Nowadays they don't take my calls or respond to my texts. They always do this to their clients and I'm not the only victim. The company has cheated many people and they gave up and lost their money. How can you assist me or refer me to relevant authorities dealing with this kind of businesses?

Here we go again. Yet another company that takes your money and fails to deliver the products or services you've paid for. I'm sure they'll come up with some excuse about Covid affecting their business, something to do with imports being difficult or being let down by ither suppliers.

But I don't care and neither should you. The impact of Covid should make us sympathetic to the difficulties businesses face but it shouldn't make us forget our rights as consumers. We have a right to get the products and services we've paid for and if there are delays we have a right to be told about them so we can decide if we want to wait or take our business elsewhere.

I contacted the shop and asked when you would receive what you paid for. They quickly responded saying that your products was being sourced from South Africa and "it got interrupted with our supplier's inconveniences". He went on to say that they are "a small company and sometimes when such company matters arise it becomes difficult to solve them on short period since his not the only one affected by such an outcome."

He ended by saying that he would get you a refund within days. Let's hope he does.

Saturday 14 August 2021

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

They let me down!

May I kindly ask if Consumer Watchdog is able to assist in getting funds back for services not rendered.

Me and my husband met someone 5 years back and he stated to offer architect services and we paid a deposit but he failed to provide the plan and he then agreed to pay us back. However he never paid and his mobile number isn't going through. We tried to trace him but up to now nothing.

We have then engaged someone different and we have now started building. On the 24th June 2021 we then paid a one supplier around Gaborone who has also failed to honour as agreed. They have given us a notice that they will have paid back the money by Friday 31st July but he has not paid. His mobile rings unanswered and we reported to the police whom he never showed up.

I'm really sorry for your run of bad luck with suppliers. Building a house is stressful enough without having to deal with untrustworthy suppliers like these.

I also think we have a neighbourly obligation to prevent anything like this happening to other customers. In my experience people who behave like this will continue to do the same to other victims until someone stops them. Maybe that's our job?

Send me the contact details of both of the shady characters that took your money and let's see if between us we can teach them the error of their ways. Who knows, maybe we can achieve some good and prevent further abuse?

They won't fix my car!

I need your advice on this matter. Around 18 July 2021 someone rear ended my vehicle causing damage to my rear bumper and door. The driver was apologetic about the accident and offered to fix the vehicle without involving the police. I agreed to this. We made a written agreement for the driver to have the vehicle fixed before end of July 2021 as they were waiting funds from a business deal.

I provided 3 quotations from different panel beaters to the driver.

As we speak the driver has been promising to give me feedback and is not doing so. I've run out of patience as I want my car repaired, what avenues can I pursue here? 

Congratulations. You deserve a prize for doing the smartest thing a consumer has done all week. You got the person who damaged your car to sign a document admitting their fault and promising to pay to fix it. That was a remarkably smart thing to do and I wish more consumers would do things like this.

The bad news is that I suspect they now regret signing it because they're trying to avoid their obligations. So now it's time to get serious.

Given that you have a written agreement I suggest you consider legal action to get your money. How you do that depends on how much you're owed. If it's below P30,000 you should approach the Small Claims Court and present them with the signed agreement and the three quotations. If it's more than P30,000 you'll probably need to consult an attorney.

However, before you do either of those things, try one last time to get them to do the decent thing. Let them know you'll be taking legal action against them unless they fix the vehicle within 7 days. If you're feeling generous, make it 14 but however long you give them, if they let you down again you need to use the law to enforce your rights.

Saturday 7 August 2021

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

They blocked me!

Five months back I bought a couch at a shop at a cost of P8,800 but until now I haven't received my couch they have been giving me stories after story saying they are waiting for orders. I finally gave up and bought another couch from a different store. I have been asking them to refund me for months now but they always give me excuses and now the lady of the shop has now I think blocked me. She is not even taking my calls. Please help me. P8,800 is a lot of money. I just can't let it go like that.

Do I care that this shop is "waiting for orders"? 

No, I don't and neither should you.

What I care about is you getting the refund you deserve. As I've said many times before, we all understand that things have been difficult for suppliers over the last 18 months and many of us have been forced to be a little more tolerant of the delays they've experienced. However, waiting for a couch for five months is silly and it's even sillier that this shop has decided to go silent on you. In fact it's more that silly, it's crazy. Do they want their reputation to be ruined? Do they want everyone to know that they treat their customers like this?

I'll get in touch with the shop and ask them if this is what they want.

I want a new trombone!

I need your advice. Around March 2021 I called a certain music shop in Gaborone looking for a trombone silver in color. They assured me that they have it in stock and I can lay-bye it, I did all of this over the phone since I stay in Mahalapye and the shop is at Gabs. On July 2nd I visited the shop to pay the last instalment and collect it. The shop assistant opened the package and told me that the trombone doesn't look new, upon a close inspection I also realized that it has a lot of scratches, they offered to give me the old trombone and discount P100. I didn't agree to that offer and we agreed that they will contact me the following week and they never did. On the same day the shop manager notified me that if they find a new one it means the price is going to increase since my lay-bye was done on March before price increases.

I think this store needs to learn some basic lessons on customer service. And another series of lessons on the Consumer Protection Act.

Firstly, this store needs to learn the difference between new and used items. Section 5 of the Act says that a supplier "shall not, in relation to the marketing of goods or services, by way of words or conduct falsely represent … that goods are new or reconditioned". From what you've told me, when you first started paying for the trombone the shop didn't tell you that the trombone wasn't new? They didn't mention that it would be a scratched, obviously second-hand or damaged trombone?

Clearly they misled you. Clearly they also broke the law.

And then, after lying to you, they want to charge you more money to get the thing you paid for? Are they serious? Section 23 (1) of the Act says that a supplier may not enter into an agreement with a consumer that allows them to "unilaterally amend the terms of the contract or agreement". A store can't just change the price of an item because they feel like it.

Do you think they realise that the maximum penalty for breaking the Consumer Protection Act is a fine of up to P100,000, a term of five years in prison. Or both.

Shall we educate them about this?