Saturday 18 September 2021

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can they repair it?

Hello I need your help. I bought a cellphone at a store at Rail Park Mall. The next day I realized that the battery died, the phone loses power so fast I have to charge it every hour. I went back to the store and they refused to change the phone instead they offered to repair it which is going to take 7 days. So what does the law say?

The law is actually very simple in circumstances like yours.

Section 15 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that a consumer "has the right to receive goods which are of good quality, in good working order and free of defects". That's simple, don't you think?

Section 16 goes on to say that if the goods fail to meet that standard, the consumer may return the goods to the supplier. It then says that the supplier is entitled to "repair or replace the defective goods" or to "refund the consumer" but it's important to understand that they can decide which they want to do. They are entitled to try to repair the phone before they choose to offer you either a refund or a replacement. I know it's frustrating to spend a lot of money on a new phone and then wait for it to be repaired but that's what the Consumer Protection Act says they can do.

However, there's something that suppliers often overlook. Section 16 of the Act also says that if a supplier repairs an item and "within three months the same problem recurs in the goods" they're not allowed to repair it a second time. They can now only refund or you give you a replacement.

My advice is to allow the store to try and repair the phone but make sure they understand that they get just one chance to do to. Just one

Scam warning

We've been contacted by many people in the last few weeks who have fallen victim to scams. The really bad news, the upsetting news, is that scammers seem to be working even harder during Covid to steal our money than ever before. They realise that we're all short of money these days and many of us are desperate to make some more. So desperate that we make some foolish decisions.

Let me give you an example. In fact, it's the experience of several victims. They were approached by people on Facebook claiming that they had a remarkable "investment" opportunity called Marginbase. Specifically, they said that if someone invested P3,800 with their scheme, they would earn P53,950 within 7 days.

Just think about that for a moment. They say you can multiply your money by 14 times in a week. If that was true and you invested your P3,800, multiplied it 14 times in just a week and then repeatedly reinvested the money, after 5 weeks you would have more than P2 billion. After three months you would have more money than has ever existed in the history of the world.

Obviously, this is a scam. It's all a trick to get the P3,800 and it's not the only scam like this operating right now. They all make promises of fantastic profits and all demand between P1,000 and P5,000 to join. It's important to know that the joining fee is just the beginning. Once you've invested, a fake web page will show that you're making lots of money and they'll encourage you to invest even more and who wouldn't be tempted? They say you're making amazing amounts of money and you want to make even more.

Of course, the problem comes when you try to withdraw your money. That's when they'll put up barriers. They'll either say that you need to pay a commission or premium to get your money or they'll claim computer problems or that their systems have been hacked. They'll do their best to keep your money, all while reminding you how much money they claim you're making.

The lesson from this is never to believe anyone who promises you fantastic profits on a relatively small investment. No genuine investment makes miraculous profits and anyone who says they can is either lying, insane or misguided. Please don't waste your money because a stranger, or worse still someone you know, suggests that you can make a fortune. You'll never see the profits they promise and you'll never see the money you gave them again.

Saturday 11 September 2021

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my sister's money?

Hello Richard. Please assist me here on behalf of my older sister. This what happened. My sister visited a certain garage at Francistown as she wanted a car. So she was told to pay clearance money of 35k and she did that. Upon the arrival of the car she noticed mechanical faults with the car and she did not take it. As a result she demanded her 35k back. And the garage owner said he will repay her after he sold his faulty car.

My sister ended up purchasing a car from a different garage while waiting for her refund from the first garage. The faulty car was sold but up to now the garage owner is playing hide and seek on refunding my sister. He will say he will pay tomorrow. Next week. Next month. Please help!! What can she do? Its almost 8 months now.

It's people like this guy that give car dealers a bad name.

I know for a fact that there are plenty of second-hand and imported car dealers who are honest, hard-working and committed to serving their customers to the best of their ability. Just not this one.

I've heard too often about people like this guy who insist on trying to sell a faulty item before they can refund someone who gave them a lot of money. It's not acceptable. Was it your sister's fault that the vehicle was faulty? No, it was his and he should face up to his responsibilities to your sister. He took her money, tried to give her a faulty vehicle and then kept her money. Not only is that a gross breach of her consumer rights I suspect it's almost theft.

The time has come for your sister to be much more assertive. She needs to make some demands and give him a deadline. I suggest she contacts him and says that unless he refunds in full within seven days she'll take legal action against him to recover the money he owes her. If he fails to do so, it's time to get even more assertive and get a lawyer involved. He has a choice. Pay up or pay her lawyer's bills on top of the P35,000 he already owes her.

Shouldn't they clear my name?

Can you please help. I have a credit card. In April this year the bank phoned to say that I owe them P1,200 for the card because they were not able to deduct as we have agreed from my account because their system was down. I paid the money in June. Recently I went to the same bank to apply for a loan in the same bank and they declined the application saying that they have blacklisted me even though it proves that I don't owe them after checking.

Are they not supposed to clear my name?

The first problem is that banks aren't perfect. They make mistakes. Their systems sometimes let them (and us) down. Clearly that happened when they failed to deduct your monthly credit card payments. Surely their expensive computer system has the ability to tell both them and you that there's been a problem and then to send a reminder that a payment failed and someone needs to take an action to keep your payments up to date?

However, it was also your responsibility to ensure the payments were made. I know it's easy to overlook this because we trust our banks to get things right. But they often don't so it's up to us to check.

Secondly, the way credit reference bureaus work is that they record facts. The bank will have updated the system to say that you fell behind with your payments and then later updated it again to say that you'd caught up. However, and this is the important point, those updates stay on your record for up to two years. That enables the bank and other potential lenders to see your recent history and make a judgment on whether they think lending money to you is a good or bad risk.

Given that it's the same bank that made the mistake that has since declined your loan application I think it's worth reminding them who actually caused the problem in the first place. Maybe they should take some share of the responsibility for the situation?

Saturday 4 September 2021

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

I want a working phone!

I bought an iPhone 12 Pro for P17,000 in April from a store in Game City, I kept the phone without using since I didn't have Wifi to register Apple ID, I used the phone end of May but it had a problem with the speaker, at first I thought the problem was because I have not updated the software since the phone kept reminding to update software, at the time I did not have Wifi again. In July I managed to update the software and the problem with the speaker still persisted but I could not return it as I was alone at work however I returned the phone on the 22nd August. They called me after a few hours saying the phone was fixed it had moisture and dirt, however I tested the phone and it still had the same problem and I left it so they can fix it.

They called again on the 24th August saying the phone is fixed but still when I called with it the person on the other side could not hear me so they took it for the third time saying they will fix and call on 26th which they never did. On 27th I went to their store and asked them to give me a new phone or return my money. They told me it will take 14 days for them to fix and they can't give me my money back or a new phone rather they guy said he will give me his phone which he is using.

Please help me 17k is a lot of money.

You're right. P17,000 is a lot of money. You might argue that all customers are equal but let's talk facts. If you've spent P17,000 on a cellphone you deserve to be treated like royalty. You deserve a comfortable chair when you arrive. You deserve a cup of coffee and a biscuit. You deserve to be treated with respect. Yes, I obviously believe that you should be treated with respect if you just spent P17, but I'm sure you know what I mean. Someone who spends P17,000 on a phone is a premier, prestige, elite customer. You certainly deserve better treatment that this store offers.

I think the store need to understand when they sell something that is faulty, they have three options. They can either repair the phone, refund you or replace it. The critical thing is that the store can decide which of these things they want to do. They can choose to repair it if that's what they prefer. That's what Section 16 (3) of the Consumer Protection Act says. However, and this is the important bit that stores often overlook, the Act then says that if "within three months the same problem recurs" then they lose the chance to repair it again. They can only now replace it or refund you. There's no second chance to repair it.

Let's explain this to them and see which option they prefer.

It's not me!

This is my story. This December money has been debited off my bank account. It was a stop order and I didn't know what it was about. I went to my bank to enquire then they assisted me told me it's a furniture store. I went there and the lady who assisted me told me to go to the store in Tlokweng because the person purchased goods there. When I got there they told me that they had been a mixup of accounts and I asked them what I should do with the bank charges that accumulated. They told me that the person would have to refund me but I don't even know that person. I even told them that its their responsibility but even now there's no help. I even closed the account.

So far you've done everything right. You were right to speak to your bank and then right again to contact the store about this. Yes, clearly there's been a mix-up and they need to fix this urgently. Then they need to refund you everything, including any bank charges you've incurred if their mistake took you overdrawn or meant you couldn't make any payments.

You should also demand that they confirm that your credit history hasn't been affected by this at all. Normal practice when you get a loan or buy something on hire purchase is for that deal to be registered with credit reference bureaux. We need to make sure this hasn't happened this time because it would be false. You don't want their mix-up to haunt you in the future.

Update: I contacted the store and they promised to investigate and fix it as soon as possible.