Saturday 6 November 2021

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Will they repair it?

Please may you assist.

I entered into a hire purchase agreement to buy sofas on 24 September 2021 paying a deposit of P2,000. However before even a month passed one of them was broken. I then informed my salesperson and a stock controller later on came to my house and took pictures, thereafter he said that he would inform me after forwarding to the manufacturer. He never did and I kept on going to their premises and calling to ask for feedback to no avail.

The first installment was due on 01 November and they advised me to continue paying as he will give me a response before the end of the day, but he never got back to me and I ended up making the payment to avoid arrears and other implications. Today he says that we should send him pictures to forward to the manufacturer which implies that he might have never done anything at all.

Please may you advise/assist on how to proceed. I am very stressed about having paid and continue paying for a defective product. I have all the intentions to pay off as per my agreement and on time.

First lesson. 

Just because you buy something on hire purchase, that doesn't mean a store can ignore your consumer rights. Your consumer rights are absolute and not something a supplier can argue with you about. 

Section 15 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that we have a right to "receive goods which are of good quality, in good working order and free of defects". It doesn't say "except when bought on hire purchase". The Act says that goods that aren't up to standard can be returned and the supplier must offer us a repair, replacement or a refund, whichever they choose. It doesn't say "unless it's hire purchase".

I've sometimes heard that some suppliers will tell a consumer that because they signed a hire purchase agreement their rights are fewer than if they'd bought for cash. They'll point to a clause in the agreement that says they can do whatever they like when something goes wrong. The good news is that Section 23 of the Consumer Protection Act is very clear. A supplier may not enter into a contract which requires consumer to "waive any right" or which allows the supplier to "waive any liability". The Consumer Protection Act is in charge.

Meanwhile, it's incredibly important that you continue doing what you're doing, which is paying your instalments. You're right to want to "avoid arrears and other implications". The moment you stop paying, the store will start saying that you broke the agreement and that means they don't have to repair anything. Whether that's in line with the Consumer Protection Act is an issue we'll explore some other time. In the meantime, they can make your life extremely difficult and very poor.

We'll get in touch with the store and see if they can't move a little faster.

What is insurance?

Again, we were asked about insurance. Several people asked us about what happens when they cancel a funeral plan, having never submitted a claim. Do they get a refund of all the premiums they paid?

No, you don't get your premiums back. The only refund you might get is if the insurer deducts your premiums after you cancel the policy or if you paid for the plan in advance. Then you might get something back.

Think of it this way. Imagine you signed a tenancy agreement to rent a house and then paid the rent for several months, but you never actually moved in and the house was empty all the time you were paying. If, many months later, you terminated the agreement, would you get your rent back? No, you were paying for something you didn't use. It's not the landlord's fault you failed to move in, you could if you'd chosen to.

It's the same with insurance. You pay a premium every month so that if something bad happens, the insurer will pay the bills. If you or a loved one had passed away during the policy, you would have avoided any major funeral costs. But it DIDN'T happen. You were lucky and yes, so was the insurance company. I'm sure you're happy nobody died, aren't you?

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