Saturday 29 October 2022

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my refund?

Hello sir. I bought an SSD for P400 from a technician. Upon buying it I got to test it at home and found out it does not work. That was two weeks back and he has been saying he will refund or give me another one for two weeks. Kindly help me sir.

Let's start with the basics. 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". Section 16 of the Act says that if the goods fail this test within 6 months, the consumer may return the goods for a replacement, repair or a refund. In this case it was quite simple, this guy offered you a refund. So far, so good.

However, as often happens, he let you down. Despite promising you the refund, he's now spent three weeks wasting your time with empty promises.

I contacted the guy and to begin with he was helpful. He told me a long story about his problems with his supplier, the items he'd supplied you in the past and something about the compatibility of the SSD he sold you. He finished by saying that he would "give him cash before Wednesday next week". I asked him if was certain of that and he was very clear. "Yes", he said.

That was two weeks ago. Nothing has happened yet.

His latest approach is to refuse to believe it's me he talking to. Am I really the Richard in The Voice? Perhaps I'm an imposter? No, I hope he now knows this is the real me.

Let's hope he can find the P400 that he owes you soon? Otherwise I suspect he's not going to have many customers left.

Will they fix my shoes?

I bought shoes at a store at Game City on the 19th of June 2022 amounting to P2,300. I only started wearing the shoe on the 27th of June 2022. I then realized on the 13th of September that the shoe was tearing on the side. I then contacted them in what I presented as a complaint for a possible refund or replacement. The shop Manager got my contacts and advised me that she would get in touch with her supervisors and give feedback. I could pick from her attitude towards my complaint that I was not going to get a satisfactory answer.

A day after she sends me a WhatsApp message telling me her supervisors have come back to say there is nothing they can assist me with because their return policy provides that an item can only be returned within 7 days. I reasoned to her and she bluntly refused and advised me to take the matter up with anyone who can assist me. I am here feeling robbed that a shoe costing P2,300 should not display the characteristics of the one I got. I kindly request for your assistance regarding this matter.

This one is simple.

I've heard this story many times before. A consumer buys shoes from a store and very quickly there's a problem. However, the store refuses to accept any responsibility and says nothing can be done. Sometimes they blame their customer for damaging the shoes.

Of course it's possible that some consumers DO damage their shoes. It's possible. However, in every case I've heard I've believed the consumers.

The secret is to bypass the store completely. I'll get in touch with the manufacturers themselves. They have a reputation to consider and they'll protect it like they'd protect their baby. I'm confident that they'll help you out. I'm also confident they'll be speaking to the store and encouraging them to treat their customers a little better.

Saturday 22 October 2022

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

When should they deduct?

Mr Harriman please help me. My phone hasn't been working well and I really needed a phone so the only option for me was to get a phone on credit. And I did, then comes payment time we agreed that they debit my account on the 21st of each month the first instalment being last month but they did not debit as agreed. On the 23rd September I receive a message stating that my account hasn't been paid and I have to make an urgent payment by the 25th September. I made a plan and went on the 24th September and paid cash. Before paying I told them it was supposed to have debited on the 21st September but it did not. They advised that I just pay cash because the system does that at times

Then to my surprise on the 26th September they debited the account after making me pay over the counter. I called them and told them how unhappy I am and I need the money as it was the only money I had for the independence holidays and I had to use it. So they kept on saying there is no refund at all once I have paid that's it. After 2 hours of arguing they then decide to ask me to come fill forms for a refund which they still need to ask for from South Africa and up to today they haven't given me my refund. Please help.

I think this store needs to learn a few things.

Firstly, they need to learn how to process payments. They need to take a very careful look at the processes they have for setting up these payments and making sure they work properly. Clearly they don't work properly today. They also need to take a very careful look at the way they deal with problems.

The mark of a really good organisation is that they look at their processes and system through the eyes of the customer. Do these processes only serve the company, or do they serve the customer as well?

I've heard from so many people like you, who have agreed with a supplier that payments will be deducted on a specific date but then the supplier decides to make the deductions on a different date, just for their own convenience. Whether it's a bank, an insurance or telecoms company or a technology store, it's disrespectful, rude and just wrong.

I contacted someone I know at the store and they alerted management. You'll get your money back in a day or two. I'm sorry it wasn't in time for the Independence celebrations.

Where's my refund?

On May 28th this year I bought a Kids tablet from a store in Sarona Mall for P850.

In June I returned it back as it was not working properly. They took it and promised to get back to me as they are taking it for repairs. A month passed but I kept on checking but got nothing from the Sales Rep. At some point she told me I must forget since it seemed I won't get it nor any refund.

Last week the owner of the shop is telling me stories that he still wants to see receipts and job cards from his office since he fired all staff. I called him today and he tells me that his partner is away outside the country so he will wait for to come next month. I am concerned, I just need a refund from them.

This company is treating you with complete disrespect and you've been patient enough. The situation is actually very simple. They sold you an item that was faulty and you returned it. They had the choice to repair it, replace it or refund you but what they chose instead was to do nothing.

That's obviously not good enough.

I really don't care about the problems they have within their company, about firing all their staff and about the partner being out of the country. None of that is relevant, none of it is important.

I contacted the store and they said they received your complaint and that "we have explained to her that unfortunately there was no paper trail of her tablet and the person who was assisting her left the job now verification of the device is still rough but we are working on it and we will call her very soon".

I don't care about their failure to keep paperwork and neither should you. They need to give you a complete refund or the world will soon know how much contempt they have for their customers.

Sunday 16 October 2022

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

The collapsing Jojo (an update)

Last month I answered a question from a reader who asked this:

"I engaged a compony for installation of a Jojo tank at my farm. I paid them the full amount and 2 days after the installation the structure collapsed owing to their poor workmanship. They then promised to buy the Jojo tank and re install the structure. It's been over a week since their promise and now they are not even taking my calls.

How can you help? Or do you suggest I move forward?"

I suggested then that the time for patience and tolerance was over. I said that Section 14 of the Consumer Protection Act says that when "a supplier undertakes to perform any services for or on behalf of a consumer, the consumer has a right to" they have a right to expect the supplier to do their job "in a manner and quality that consumers are reasonably entitled to expect".

A Jojo tank on a stand shouldn't fall over in any circumstances other than perhaps earthquakes and powerful storms. Neither of these things happened this time, It fell over because it was badly constructed and it's obviously the job of this supplier to fix it.

The bad news is that despite lots of promises and even sending me his WhatsApp location to prove he was nearby and ready to fix the problem, nothing has happened. Nothing at all.

So what next?

One option is to involve the Competition and Consumer Authority. They can approach this guy and compel him to explain himself and then remedy the situation. Another option is to seek an order from the Small Claims Court for a refund. Perhaps the most effective option is for the customer to identify the company who let him down so badly in the Consumer Watchdog Facebook group? I know the consumer is telling the truth because I've seen the pictures and the supplier has also admitted that he's responsible. So maybe that's the first thing to do?

Where's my wiring?

I desperately need help. In April I asked this young man to wire my house. He came to see my house and told me he can get material through his company where he can get better discounts. So I sent him P3,620. He never came back to me, he always had stories and reasons up to date. I reported him to Mochudi Police but they never assisted me saying they don't handle such cases.

Please help me here, where can I get proper help to report this young man. I need my money back.

This guy is very suspicious. I'm a bit confused. In a conversation you told me that you hired him as an individual so what is this about getting discounts through his company? I wonder whether he's trying to separate a personal contract from his normal business dealings? There are many ways of trying to avoid tax if a company owner channels business through their personal account rather than through the business.

But in fact things are more complicated. You sent me a picture of his business card which describes the various things his company does, installing generators and solar panels, household electrical work, air-conditioners, refrigeration equipment, cold rooms, it's a long list. But here's the strange thing. The company doesn't exist, CIPA have no trace of it. Or of him. Obviously he exists, just not in the way he suggests.

Regardless of all this there is one very simple truth. You paid him a lot of money to do some work for you and he didn't do it. He now owes you one of two things. He can either do the work or he can give you a full refund. However, we already know that he's a bit suspicious and I don't think you should trust him to do do anything electrical in your home. Please don't take that risk.

I've contacted him and asked him when he's likely to pay you a refund. So far I've had no answer but I won't give up.

Saturday 8 October 2022

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay this much?

I'm writing to make enquires about the running of unregistered motshelo scheme. I am one of the members
We're charged 10% interest when borrowing money.

I borrowed P4,300 back in July 2021 and then my employer closed his company during Covid-19 lockdown. I didn't manage to pay back anything until when I got another job in May 2022. On the 22nd July 2022 I said I was ready to settle my debt. They said the money had accumulated, and that in January this year it was P8,000. I paid P9,040 because I wanted to increase my contribution so that by December I should get a better an amount PLUS my interest.

To my surprise they're saying I still owe a balance of P7,000+. According to my calculations I have paid more than I was supposed to, I have sought for advice and I need a second opinion from you Sir.

I deeply regret the choices I made I just thought we were ladies from the same village. Now I need answers as to why exactly are they demanding some more money when I already paid. NBFIRA told me that's an illegal scheme and my interest shouldn't exceed the money borrowed. Could you please advise?

I'm not going to disagree with NBFIRA because they're right. Clearly this is an illegal motshelo scheme. I'm betting they're not registered with NBFIRA and they're also breaking the "in duplum" rule which says that when a debt is settled, the amount of interest cannot exceed the capital amount that you still owe. You borrowed just P4,300, you've paid back P9,040 and they still want another P7,000? That's a total of P16,040, nearly four times the amount you borrowed. That's crazy. At least some of the money you've paid should have reduced the loan amount and not just paid the outrageous interest this scheme is charging.

I suggest you speak to whoever is administering this scheme and pass on the advice from NBFIRA and insist that they do the maths again and this time come up with a better result. Either that or you submit a formal complaint to NBFIRA.

What can I do?

Kindly advise if this is worth suing or taking up with the legal team. I bought phone at a dealership in May. 2 weeks ago it showed that it couldn't read the sim slot 2 and I took it back to them. They told me that they would be sending it to Gaborone and it should be back in 2 weeks. 2 days before the 2 weeks I go there just to check if its back yet and they didn't have feedback for me and called the place to enquire but were told that the person fixing my phone is out of office.

On Thursday when I called to enquire I was told the phone has arrived. The sim slot has been fixed but they have also flashed my phone. When asked why they say the phone also had a software problem that needed to be updated hence they flushed it without my consent or at least backing up my information.

Richard the information that they erased is worth more than millions in value literally. Some is evidence that I am to use at court. A spreadsheet with loans. Screenshots of my loan agreements. Loans worth over 100k and convos between myself and the people who owe me. Conversations and proformas as well as proof of payments for stuff that I have ordered in China.

Kindly assist.

I'm sorry but I don't think I can offer you any assistance. Firstly, it was very unwise to hand over a phone that contained such important information without first taking a backup. Yes, the repairer should probably have asked you before wiping the phone but you should have been much more cautious. From what you told me, your business and much of your personal life depended on that information. You should have been backing this up on a daily basis. There are plenty of free backup services available these days. There no reason not to be using them.

Secondly, from what you said, and our later conversation, you were using that phone to operate a microlending business that hadn't been registered with NBFIRA. The bad news is that if you had been registered with NBFIRA they would likely have banned you because you failed to keep reliable records but as you weren't registered you face a different set of NBFIRA's rules. Perhaps worst of all for you, you probably no longer have any way to enforce any of the loans you made. Bu as you were making them illegally, can you really complain?

Saturday 1 October 2022

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is my phone new? (An update)?

A few weeks ago a reader of The Voice complained about a phone she bought. She said:
"I bought my iPhone XR from a store, they claimed it's a new phone, but the battery health wasn't 100%, also the model number according to Apple community is a refurbished phone. A month into using the phone it kept crashing. I had to send it back to them and they claimed it needed a software update, which wasn't true because I had already updated it. It also came with a damaged box and no charger.

And they informed me that a cellphone shop in Square mart is their supplier, and the supplier is not willing to assist with the query. They claim that it has been 8 months with the phone. I showed them the complaint I sent them about the phone being refurbished in January, hardly 3 weeks after buying it, So they are the ones who didn't escalate my issue well on time with their supplier, and that isn't my problem. So I told them I still demand a new phone and not a refurbishment. They said they'll call you so you help them hold their supplier responsible."
My reply a few weeks ago was simple. I said:
"Firstly, selling a refurbished phone as new is illegal, contrary to Section 13 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act which says that a supplier must "inform a consumer that the goods sold are used goods by … placing a label on the goods that indicates that such goods are used goods (and) placing a notice on the invoice issued to a consumer".

Secondly, do they really think consumers can't identify a refurbished iPhone when they see it? It's simple. If you check the model number of an iPhone, the first letter describes its origin. If it starts with M it's new, F means refurbished and N, like in your case, means it was a replacement phone. Someone in the world returned their new iPhone to an Apple store and it was replaced with the phone you now have. And guess what? Most replacement phones have been refurbished.

Next, like you, I really don't care about their relationship with their supplier. That's their problem, not yours."
The latest update is that the store is still refusing to do the right thing. They've told their customer that I wasn't able to help them with their supplier so nothing can be done to help her. That's silly. Ridiculous. Nonsense. While I'm sympathetic to their situation, their business dealings with their supplier are their business, not yours and not mine. I've contacted them again and ask them whether they really think it's acceptable to treat a customer this way?

Must I pay after so long?

I bought a phone on hire purchase agreement from a furniture store in December 2014. It was brand new from the box. In less than 7 days the phone started freezing and becoming slow. I took it back to the shop and they told me that they will take it for repairs. I told them that the phone was still very new and it didn't deserve to be sent to a technician. I requested that they exchange and give a different phone. I was told that they will contact their suppliers and call me.

After a week I went back to them and I was told that the supplier hasn't responded to them. A month passed still awaiting their call but nothing. I paid for December but didn't pay for end January 2015. Around March 2015 I went back to them and I honestly don't remember what they were saying regarding my phone. I never bothered to check on them again. I waited for 6 years and 9 months for them to call and explain themselves but they failed and instead I received a call from a firm they use to collect their debts, saying that I owe them for the phone that I only used for less than a week. They say I should pay them the full amount which I can pay but will they bring back my phone?

This is insane.

Yes, you breached the terms of your hire purchase agreement and that's always a bad thing to do. Even though you didn't have the phone you were still committed to make the payments. However, this situation is completely absurd. They've had your phone for SEVEN YEARS and they still expect you to pay for it?

I'll contact them and suggest they either need to fix this issue immediately or find a psychiatrist.