Sunday 14 November 2021

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my TV?

Can you please help us locate the owner of a store. I long placed a TV order in March, and until now the owner hasn't delivered nor at least refunded us. We reported the matter to the Competition and Consumer Authority but they said they cant find him and he is not taking their calls. I call him almost everyday he doesn't take my calls, now he has blocked me. He even deleted the shop's facepage.

Maybe I have magical powers.

I messaged the owner of the store and he responded quite quickly, asking for your name, contact details and a copy of your receipt. I explained to him that I'm not sure that a receipt is necessary given that he has your name and cell number, I suggested that this should be enough to trace you in his records. That's assuming he HAS records.

It's quite surprising how often the smaller suppliers I contact with issues like yours don't seem to keep records, preferring to rely on nothing more than a receipt book and their own memory. I sometimes wonder whether it's just their way of keeping records out of sight from the authorities but maybe I'm being too suspicious.

Curiously, I checked out the company you paid and they are indeed a registered company but are owned by a parent company that was deregistered in July this year and therefore no longer operates. Maybe I'm being simple-minded but surely a company that is owned by a company that no longer exists, doesn't exist itself? The owner wasn't able to explain this to me.

I won't give up applying pressure to the owner, let's hope he does the decent thing.

Update: He's agreed to pay you P1,000 every two weeks until the debt is fully repaid.

Where's my car?

I ordered a car from UK worth 65k and have paid the 50% deposit last year September. I've been very patient with them since there were issues of lockdown but it's been 12 months now and they are not communicating. I've demanded my deposit but they tell me they can only refund when the car has arrived, which they also don't know when it'll arrive. Their last communication with me was a voicenote on Whatsapp on the 9 February saying the car is about to reach Durban. When I made follow up now the story has changed to saying they're checking at the port of loading if the car has been loaded. It's very frustrating and am thinking of taking the legal route.

I'm sure there are some respectable, reliable car importers that don't tell lies to their clients, I just haven't met many yet. But my experience is based almost entirely on the endless stream of complaints we receive, almost all of them telling stories very similar to yours. Some have waited even longer than you.

The last two years of Covid have made life very difficult for every company that moves goods from one place to another. We all understand that and I'm sure we've all been more tolerant of delays as a result. However, that doesn't excuse companies from their obligation to keep us informed. If there are delays the law says that suppliers should tell us about them. Often.

In your case I suspect we're dealing with something slightly different. He's not telling the truth. He claims not to know when the vehicle will arrive? I don't believe him. He later said he wasn't sure the vehicle had even been loaded? I still don't believe him.

I contacted the guy running the company and his response wasn't very helpful. When I mentioned that I'll be covering the issue in the media he said he'll be talking to his lawyer. Let's see what someone with an understanding of the law says to him. If the lawyer wants to talk, they know where to find me. If they want to get threatening, I'm looking forward to a good laugh.

If he doesn't cooperate, I think legal action might be the right approach but we can use various channels to make him do the right thing. We can involve the courts, the Police, the Competition and Consumer Authority and even the local Council to see if they want to renew his trading licence. I'm sure we'll find a way to make him to behave properly.

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