Saturday 25 February 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my laptop?

I bought a laptop from a store in Game City in August 2022. The laptop had a 1 year warranty. I then realised that the laptop does not have network drivers. I was far in Lobatse and needed to use it for school work but I got the drivers installed. Around September I realised that the battery lasts for only an hour. I felt that this is too much now and I contacted the store for assistance. They took the laptop with the claim that they are going to fix it. On my return, they told me it was not the battery. It was the capacitors and they had changed them. However the battery remained the same. I kept on following the store and they claimed they have ordered the battery and it will arrive in the second week of January 2023. The second week of January arrives and there is no battery. They again took my laptop to go and fix it. It got worse. The technician left a screw inside which short-circuited the charging system. Right now, the laptop works well connected to the power only. I approached them and what I got is that I should fix the laptop, buy a new battery and they will refund. I'm so exhausted because of these guys. Please help me.

This is a complete mess. Can this store do ANYTHING right?

Firstly they sold you a laptop that wasn't "in good working order and free of defects" as required by Section 15 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act. Any new or even second-hand laptop should have the basic network drivers, the bits of software that allow it to connect to the world. Clearly there's something suspicious about this device if it can't even connect in 2023.

Then there's the issue of the battery. New laptops these days have batteries than can last for several hours and the battery in yours only lasted an hour when you bought it? That's not good enough. And now let's add in the incompetence of their staff who leave a loose screw inside the laptop that caused further damage.

Finally there's their suggestion that YOU need to fix the laptop and get a new battery. That's crazy. It's not just the laptop that has a screw loose, it's the store management as well. It's their job to fix this issue. I contacted the store and they told me that the battery "will be replaced this week". They later told me again that "it shall be done this week".

Not true. A week later, there's still no solution.

I'll contact the store one last time. I saw that you posted a complaint in the Consumer Watchdog Facebook group which named the store. Maybe that will motivate them to fix this issue finally?

Who did it?

Since last year I have experienced P214 disappearing from my husband's account every month. In early January when I went to withdraw money it showed there was no money. I called the bank but they could not give me an answer. Last night we discovered after calling the bank, they said it's Netflix.

The lady at the bank was saying they can't reveal who did this but I heard that bank staff can do this?

There's good news and there's bad news.

The good news is that you later told me that you had spoken online to Netflix and after you explained the situation they said they would refund 12 months of monthly subscriptions. That's clearly good news. It also suggests to me that Netflix understand that sometimes people's accounts are misused and they're prepared to do something about it. Never underestimate what an international brand will do to protect its reputation.

Now for the bad news. Your credit card has been compromised. Someone has used your card to purchase a Netflix subscription. Yes, it's possible someone in the bank did this but there's a much more likely explanation. It's someone who had physical access to your card. Maybe it was a waiter in a restaurant, a cashier in a supermarket or someone in a store where you swiped for some airtime.

However, it's much more likely it was someone you know. I've heard of this situation many times before and it's almost always a family member or a friend who did this. The first thing you should do is ask your bank for replacement cards with different numbers and different CVV numbers. Then you have a choice. Ask some serious questions of everyone you know. Or pretend this never happened. It's not a choice I envy.

Saturday 18 February 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

They took my supplements!

Kindly help with information on which authorities I can inquire from or rather report to. At the border police officers confiscated my non-medicinal fruit supplements because they said they don't recognize what they are. Initially they said I should take them back to SA, which I was willing, seeing that if I did not I could lose them. Then they called each other on the side and decided they were taking them.

They did not give me a document showing that they took my things and I took a picture of their form, and they asked me to delete (of course I backed it up) and threatened to look for me if I posted it.

A health representative who took goods because she doesn't recognize them yet wrote banned goods. I believe I have a right to at least take them back or get a form that indicates that they have confiscated my goods for a specific reason.

I'm a big believer in rules and procedures but they need to be followed fairly, openly and respectfully.

Let's begin with the supplements. We have very strict rules in Botswana on the importation of medicines and supplements and BoMRA, the Medicines Regulatory Authority publish on their web site a very long list of the various products that have been approved. You should start by seeing if these supplements are on the list. You also need to consider how much of these supplements you brought across the border. Was it just a small quantity or an amount that might appear to be suspicious?

Then we need to talk about the conduct of the officials at the border. They were within their rights and doing their job by inspecting products brought across the border but that doesn't allow them to ignore your rights and treat you like a criminal. You deserved to be given a receipt and a reasonable explanation for why your goods were seized. I suggest you speak to the right people in Immigration and get their feedback.

Will they give me a refund?

I need your help. Last year November I registered my son at a private school. I paid the registration fee of P200, the development fee of P2,000 and stationery P250. In December I got a job in Gaborone so I had to relocate together with my son.

Then in January just before school was reopening, I wrote them an email requesting for a refund but till today they tell me stories every day and they say the development fee is non-refundable and they can only refund me P250 for stationery.. But my son never attended even a single lesson in their school. They are even failing to help understand how the development fee is non-refundable.

I thought it can only be non-refundable if at least he attended at their school then later transferred. They are still falling to refund the P250 that they said they can refund and this is the second month since I requested for a refund. I call them every day and it's stories all the time.

Please help me, I need them to refund me.

I suspect you'll be out of luck.

It's normal practice for private schools to charge various fees when you first sign up your child as a pupil. There's often a registration fee that covers the paperwork and a development fee that contributes towards the development of the school, things like new buildings, sports facilities and technology. I think most private schools do this.

Then there's the agreement you signed with the school. If you check the agreement I'm sure you'll find a statement saying that those fees are non-refundable. That's assuming you signed it?

If you think about it, at least some of this is reasonable. The school reserved a place for your child that could have been given to another child. Your decision not to go through with your agreement isn't their fault, is it?

Meanwhile they should stop delaying with the amount they said they'd refund you. I'll contact them for you.

Saturday 11 February 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

What can I do?

I bought a phone in December, a Huawei Mate 10 Lite. It was new from the box.

It started expanding the battery and opening on the side and it cracked the screen by itself. So I went to return it this morning and they said if I returned it they will take 30% from the P2,000 I bought the phone with and they'll give me P1,400.

So I am asking if is the right process they are taking? I don't know if they are supposed to give me a new phone or refund me my money.

I need help.

Yes, you need help. But so does the store. They urgently need to learn some important lessons about consumer rights. And it's our job to teach them.

Your homework is to go back to the store and teach them what they need to do.

Firstly, explain to them that this phone clearly has an old battery which leads us to wonder whether it's really a new phone? Given that this model is 5 years old, it's fair to ask if it was really new? Teach them that Section 13 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that a supplier selling used goods must disclose that clearly at the point of sale. Failure to do so can lead to a fine of up to P50,00 or a prison term of up to 3 years. Or both.

Secondly, they need to learn from you that a supplier who sells faulty goods, and an expanding battery that cracks the screen is definitely faulty, must repair it, replace it or refund the customer if they return it within 6 months after buying it. There are no fees to be paid for this. None. Given that this phone is wrecked, I don't think a repair is a suitable choice. It's either a replacement or a refund.

The third lesson is simple. Do they want the public to know how they ignore the law and treat their customers with contempt? I hope they don't. Consumers can end a business very quickly if they exercise their rights and take their money elsewhere. 

Update: The store saw sense. She got a new phone.

Where's my refund?

May you kindly assist me with my security company. In January 2022 I got into a contract with them for alarm installation and security service provision. However, after months of paying monthly subscriptions of P550 I realised the alarm was inactive because of wrong installation issues. I reported the matter to management who rectified the problem and promised 3 free months to make up for that. However they continued with monthly deductions despite this communication through email and phone call.

I am always the one calling making follow ups. They never bother to engage me as their client. This persists because the contractual agreement was made through debit order and I couldn't cancel the transaction at the bank and payment suspension can only happen from their accounts office. The agreement was they refund me 2 months and suspend payment for December. They only suspended payment for December when I was furious with them. As for the refund they are refusing to fulfil their promise. They claim they have paid but when I request for proof of payment they won't produce it and they keep on saying they are confirming. Now they are no longer taking my calls.

I would be grateful if you can assist since it has been months of cat and mouse game with this security company.

The bad news is that I've had a few complaints about this company in recent weeks. The good news is that I'm sure they'll do their best to fix this. I hope the owners are experienced business people who know how to do things correctly, and that the problem is the staff lower down who don't fully understand the commitment that needs to be made to fixing problems.

I'll alert the management and I'm sure this will be fixed very quickly.

Wednesday 8 February 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can I get a refund after 2 years?

I paid P1,000 for long sight eye lenses at an optician and did not get my spectacles because they didn't have any frames that I liked, They said they don't have stock because of Covid. This was in 2020. They advised me to go and decide if I'll just take what's available then or wait for new frames. It happened that I was away for some time and I still needed specs so I went to a different optician where I was.

I paid for both lenses and frame with this new optician and got my specs. So this year I decided to go back to my previous optician to tell them I managed to get both lenses and frame from a different optician and I requested for a refund. They refused to refund me for the lenses that I paid for but didn't use. They are saying there is a 3 months period which long elapsed that's why I don't qualify for refund and it's shocking because they never communicated this information the time when I paid for the lenses. Can you help me get my refund?

I think you might be out of luck. Firstly, we need to ask what the first optician did in 2020? Did they do an eye test for you? Did they start to produce the lenses for you? Did they spend that P1,000 getting lenses for you? How much work did they for you?

Then you went quiet on them. For more than 2 years. Is it their fault that you disappeared after they did some work for you?

You later told me that they had given you a receipt but you lost it. I wonder whether that receipt had small print that explained this 3-month period? It's hard to know after all this time.

I think the best thing to do is to ask the first optician for a copy of their standard receipt and then ask them if they might reconsider giving you a refund of the P1,000 you paid them. However, I think we both know what their answer will be.

Can I exchange it again?

Hello Mr Richard you once really helped me around 2021 so I am here once again asking for your help. I bought a polo v-neck T-shirt worth P300 at a store in Game City the size being large for my friend. Unfortunately it was too small, he stays in Jwaneng we then changed it there taking extra large which also did not fit.

Now I took it back to where I first bought it explaining that I would like to return it and top up taking a different one but they refuse to help saying you can only change an item once which is something customers don't have information about. Please please help me we can't keep something that doesn't fit when there could be a solution. Please help. I want to top up and take a different one.

I told them am topping up with P150 to get the other 1 worth P450 because the one I bought was P300. Please ask them to just help. I understand their procedure but I was not aware of it. I plead with them to allow me to top up.

Let's start at the beginning. We consumers don't have a right to change our minds. When we buy something that's in a good condition we don't have a right to take it back because we don't want it any longer. We're only allowed to take something back if it's faulty or if it was mis-sold. That includes buying things following false advertisements or if the seller lied about what the product was or the purposes it could serve.

Of course there are some stores that offer a lot more than that, particularly with clothing. They allow you to return something if it's still in perfect condition. But that's not a right, just excellent customer service.

In this situation you've chosen one of the better stores. The first t-shirt you bought was the wrong size for your friend and they allowed you to exchange it for a larger version. Good service, don't you think?

But a second time? Are they really expected to do allow you to exchange it again? In normal circumstances I'd probably say no, you're asking too much. However, I think that because you've offered to top up the amount they should probably consider it.

I'll get in touch with them and see if they can be a bit more flexible.