Sunday, 17 October 2021

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where is it?

I commissioned a company to make a plant stand for me. They insisted that I pay a 70% deposit, which I did and I have the paperwork to prove it. They told me the work would be done in 4 - 8 working days. That did not happen and they requested an extension which I agreed to.

Two months passed without the stand and I requested my money back. Numerous times they said they would deposit the funds and I think it has been 4 months now. Now they won't pick up my calls and I am not sure whether I need to take them to the police or where to go to get my money back.

Let's talk about the Consumer Protection Act.

Section 14 (1) of the 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".
Note that it says "timely performance". That means they must deliver the services in a reasonable time. Obviously that can vary depending on the circumstances. Some services take longer than others. But these guys told you that it would take just over a week. You were kind enough to give them an extension but I don't think you meant four months, did you? I don't think you said they could go silent, did you?

The same part of the Act also says that a supplier must give a consumer "timely notice of any unavoidable delay". This is actually very simple to understand. Suppliers are required by the law to keep their customers updated on progress and inform them of any delays. But perhaps more importantly, it's not just the law, it's good customer service. It's just reasonable behaviour.

I contacted the supplier and he's at least talking to me. He claims to be out of the country but I don't think that should make any difference. I'll keep the pressure up.

A simple rule about prices

In the last few weeks several people have contacted us reporting problems they'd experienced with prices. Most often people have told us about times when the price of an item at the till was higher than the price on the shelf. I know that's happened to me, it's probably happened to you as well. 

One of the consumers who contacted us had a slightly bigger problem. She'd ordered a large number of cookware items from a supplier at a price that both she and the supplier agreed, P107 per item. That price was discussed over the phone and in various messages.

But then it went wrong. The supplier called her to tell her that the items had arrived but the price was now P124, not P107. Obviously she complained, reminding the supplier that this wasn't the agreed price. After some argument they offered to discount this new, made-up price of P124 down to P118.

The consumer and I had a chat and I suggested she give this company some free education. She told them that Section 7 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that a supplier:
"shall not advertise any particular goods or services as being available at a specified price in a manner that may result in consumers being misled or deceived as to the actual availability of those goods or services from that supplier, at the advertised price".
She told him that Section 11 (3) of the Act says that a supplier:
"shall not charge a consumer more than the price indicated or displayed for goods or services".
I also suggested that she tell him that Section 23 (1) (a) of the Act also states that a supplier may not:
"unilaterally amend the terms of the contract or agreement".
Finally, I suggested that she remind them that any breach of these clauses of the Act can lead to:
"a fine not exceeding P50,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to both". 
They had a quick think and offered her the items at the original price of P107.

See what a little education can achieve?

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