Saturday 25 December 2021

The rules on advertising

The Consumer Protection Act 2018 did something new. Something that had never been done before.

It included strict rules on how companies can behave when they advertise their goods and services. 

There were hints in earlier laws but this was serious, specific and comprehensive. And it's good. And it came with serious penalties for those companies that decide not to behave properly.

Here's a brief summary of the rules. 


Suppliers MUST NOT make false claims about:
  • The nature of a product and its uses 
  • Whether something is new or used 
  • If something has been approved 
  • When or for how long it's available 
  • When it can be made available or delivered 
  • The price 
  • Warranties, guarantees and consumer rights 
They MUST:
  • Advertise goods for the real price 
  • Have enough stock to meet reasonably expected demand 
  • Disclose any limitations on the stock available 
  • Indicate how long the goods will be available 
  • Understand that if they fail to disclose how long something will be available, it must be available for one month 
  • Understand that if goods are not availed as advertised the consumer can cancel the purchase and get a refund. 

When something is offered for sale:
  • The information provided on goods for sale must be accurate, clear and complete 
  • The price must be displayed clearly 
  • The price must be displayed IN PULA
  • They supplier must not charge the consumer more than the price displayed 

If a supplier breaks these rules they can face a fine of up to P50,000, jail for up to 3 years, or both.

Saturday 18 December 2021

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my stuff?

In September 2020 I paid for building material amounting to P15,000. Then my builder lost the receipt/invoice. I report the issue to the supplier. Their Security Manager advised me to give them 3 months for them to check if the material did not leave their shop. After 3 months the manager kept telling me they have not yet managed to resolve my issue. I tried to go to other managers in the shop they told me he is the only one I have to deal with.

I went to Consumer Affairs and they told me there is nothing much to do because its me who lost the receipt. They advised me to be patient with them. They talked with the Security manager but they eventually gave up. I have been patient with the Security Manager even up to now. They are still telling me they have not yet balanced their books, therefore, they can not help me.

I need you advice on what I can do now.

This is really unacceptable. I understand that you lost your receipt and that makes life a little bit more difficult for the store. I get that and I'm sure you do too. However, I can understand this being difficult only if the store doesn't keep any records. But it's 2021. They'll have a computerised point of sale system that connects to their billing system and they can easily find a record showing that you bought these supplies on a particular date and a particular time. If you paid for the goods using your bank card they'll definitely have very detailed records but even if you paid cash they a professional supplier will still have records.

There are two possibilities. Either they don't have detailed records of things they've sold in which case they're incompetent and can't be trusted or they can't be bothered to check for you in which case they're also incompetent and can't be trusted.

I'll get in touch with the store for you and remind them that they have an obligation to act professionally, promptly and respectfully. They can't wait 15 months without giving you what you paid for and make up excuses about why they can't.

I need that money back!

Richard I need your help because I feel I have been unfairly mistreated. On the 1st December I ordered a smart watch online from a local company, it costed P499. The site promises free next day delivery. After 2 days with no word from them I called and the man told me the watch is out of stock, and he promised to get back to me with a solution to my predicament. I waited for a call which never came through, had to call him several times until I was referred to someone else who he said he was his brother. He advised I top up with P200 to get a different watch which I did instantly. I was told the watch was gonna be sent through the following day. 2 more days pass with no watch or an explanation on what the hold up is. I'm told the brother is in SA and he is the only one who can confirm the shipment of my order. I eventually get assistance from someone else and he assured me he will send the watch on the 9th. When the watch is about to be sent they told me they are sending me one that costs P529 but I paid P699.) He eventually sent the watch.

Now here is the thing, They advertised something which is not in stock and it's still advertised as available. They failed to communicate with me unless I called them. I had to pay for the delivery myself because they didn't pay the couriers. Right now I am an unhappy client, feeling unfairly treated and I want some of my money back.

It's not even about the money, it's about the principle. Please help.

I think we need to teach this company a few lessons. Firstly, they need to learn some common courtesy. You don't treat a customer with such rudeness.

Then they need to learn about Section 5 of the Consumer Protection Act which is called "Prohibition of false or misleading representations". This section talks very clearly about making false claims in advertisements. Then there's Section 7 which is entitled "Bait advertising" and this talks about the same things. It also says that a supplier who breaches these rules on advertising can face "a fine not exceeding P50 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to both". I don't think they need to go to prison yet. That's unless they fix this problem and offer you the money you're owed. Then I think handcuffs might be necessary.

Saturday 11 December 2021

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

He's ignoring me!

I gave someone a deposit of P700 to manufacture steel window frames for me on the 9th of November. He has been taking me from pillar to post since, claiming there isn't any material in all GC shops. I asked him to return my money on several occasions as my project is lagging behind and on all counts he promised to do so. He is not taking my calls any more. On 26th November I used another SIM card and I pretended to be somebody else and I asked for a quote. He quoted me and assured me that material is available.

What can I do?

What can you do? You can get angry, that's what you can do. You can get even more angry than you are already. This sort of thing is happening way too often and the time has come to take the battle to the people that let us down and then refuse to talk to us. My patience with such people has disappeared and I think yours should too.

The first step in this battle is to contact this guy and explain to him what the Consumer Protection Act says about situations like this. Section 14 (1) of the Act says that where:
"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".
The Act doesn't say exactly what "timely" means but I think we all know when something is NOT "timely". This guy obviously doesn't know what it means.

The Act also says that as consumers we are entitled to "timely notice of any unavoidable delay". Again, I don't think this guy has a clue about this.

I really respect your investigative skills. More consumers should do what you did. Use another number to call someone who's let them down and see if they still exist. Then ask some questions to find out the truth.

I'll also contact this guy and see if he really wants a battle with you, me and the readers of The Voice. He needs to know he'd lose.

If you break it, you pay for it

A member of the Consumer Watchdog Facebook group recently posted a question about breakages. A store put up a sign near the plates they were selling saying "If you break, you pay". Was this fair? Was it legal? Was the store allowed to post such a warning?

Yes, they most certainly are.

I think it's quite simple. If you break something that doesn't belong to you, you replace it, don't you? If I came to your house and broke something, wouldn't you expect me either to replace it or pay you to do so? I don't see that it's any different in a store.

Obviously, a decent store with a compassionate manager might be tolerant of minor mistakes. They might think that a very minor financial loss is insignificant compared to their relationship with a customer. But that's just good customer service, not a consumer right. There are also circumstances when I think the store should be more relaxed. If they've stacked things in a way likely to make things get damaged, then they need to take some responsibility.

Some members of the group asked whether the store's Insurance would cover the damage. Yes, in principle it might but in practice it won't. Insurance policies almost always include an excess amount. This is an amount that the customer pays before the policy pays out. This is done specifically to prevent customers from submitting small claims and not swamping the insurance company with endless paperwork. Anyone with a home or vehicle insurance policy will know about this. You pay the first couple of thousand and the insurance company pays the rest. I suspect that if the store has an insurance policy they won't be able to submit a claim for just the price of a plate when their excess might be a few thousands.

The lesson is simple. Treat a store's property the way you would treat a friend's property. Even when they're not your friend.

Saturday 4 December 2021

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why won't they take it back?

Good day Richard. Kindly assist. I asked my sister in gabs to buy a TV. She managed to buy the TV but when she finally sent me the details I discovered that its FHD instead of the UHD. I asked her to return it and ask for a refund or because its not what I wanted.

Now they are giving her a hard time. They're saying they only return faulty products but the return policy says otherwise.

How do i get them to assist her accordingly because they are refusing to take it back.

Firstly, let's admit that you are one of the lucky ones. You chose to buy something from a store that has a generous returns policy. Most stores only offer what the law demands. That says that we can return items only when they are faulty or when the item was somehow mis-sold. They don't allow you just to change your mind if you don't like the item or it doesn't meet your needs.

But this store is one of the better ones. Some stores decide to go above just what the law demands and offer their customers something special. These are the stores we should support because they offer much more than others.

This store has a "7-Day Return / Exchange Policy" which says "if you are not completely satisfied with your products, we will gladly exchange them, or alternatively, refund your money, provided the original receipt is supplied, and that the goods purchased are not used, still in their original condition and packaging, and in a condition for re-sale".

I respect that. That's a real advantage to consumers like you and me. However, it seems that some people in this company have decided that they know better than the company policy and have decided you deserve less than they offer other people. In your place I would be very angry.

I contacted the store and asked them to look again at this situation and apply their own policies. Let's hope they can read their own policy and do the right thing?

Update: The store responded saying that the 7-day policy only applies to items that are faulty which is simply NOT what the policy says. I've tried to explain to them that the Consumer Protection Act is very strict and says a supplier can't just make things up if they feel like it. They also complained that you took 6 days to change your mind. It's a long time since I studied maths but isn't 6 less than 7?

Where's my CV?

I paid a certain document consultancy agency money for them to do a CV for me. They said that the CV will be ready in 24hrs which wasn't true. I had to keep calling them amd bothering them. Then finally they sent a CV that seems to be an edited version of someone elses CV, with wrong qualifications, mixed up details which i brought to their attention.

I brought it to their attention and they said they would fix it but nothing. Their phones are off. Is it possible to get my money back in this case since they failed to do their part? Not only that when I call they switch their phones off.

Yet again a company thinks it's ok to go silent on a customer who has paid them good money to perform a service for them. Why do they think this is a good idea? Do they really think we'll give up?

The Consumer Protection Act says that we are entitled to services that are delivered "in a manner and quality that consumers are reasonably entitled to expect". I expect that if I pay someone to do my CV they should at least include my details, not someone else's.

I contacted the company and but didn't get a reply.

Update: They didn't reply to me but I understand they you your completed CV, this time with your details, not those of a stranger. I hope it's ok now?