Saturday 10 June 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

What price is right?

Good evening Richard. I need help. I went to a store in Lobatse. I wanted a kettle and the assistant showed me where they are and I picked one. The price by the kettle was P180.00. When I was by the till I realised after paying that I paid P295.00. I then alerted the teller, telling her that the kettle is P180.00 not P295.00. The other assistant ran and told the manager and they both went there and changed the price tag, but I had already noticed what they were doing.

I told them I have to get that kettle for the price I saw and they refused and gave me another kettle and told me that it was the one for that amount. I had to wait for almost an hour to be assisted. They refused to give me the kettle with the price I saw. Instead they gave me a different one and said that was the one worth that price I saw. They gave me the kettle I didn't want. 

I think this situation is very simple. The store offered the kettle for P180 and that's the price you should pay. You know who agrees with me about this? The law.

Section 11 of the Consumer Protection Act describes some very simple rules about how prices should be displayed. Firstly, it says that goods can't be displayed without their price. That's simple. It then goes on to say something just as important, that the price must be displayed in Pula. That might seem obvious but you'll probably have seen prices shown in Rand or without any details of the currency, just a number. In the past that's been a common way for South African chains to charge us the Rand price in Pula. I think the law means there must be a 'P' to make sure we're being charged the right amount.

However, the best part comes next. Section 11 (3) of the Act says that a supplier "shall not charge a consumer more than the price indicated or displayed for goods or services." Simple as that. Clearly this store hasn't read that Section or perhaps did read it and doesn't understand it. But that's no excuse.

I'll contact the store and remind them how simple the law is.

Why can't they cancel it?

Good day Richard, I hope you can help me. I have a funeral policy which I cancelled on 7th March via email. I was told it would be terminated within 30 days so when they deducted money for same policy from my March salary I was not surprised since the 30 days had not elapsed. But then they deducted again in April. I sent an email requesting that they rectify the error but I was not responded to. I sent another one and it was still not responded to. I called the office on Friday last week but was advised to call on Monday and given a name to assist me but nobody is picking the phone. So I tried to send them messages on Facebook to which I was told to give my details and someone will get back to me but nobody did. I texted again to remind them that nobody had gotten back to me yet but that message was ignored. Yesterday I sent another Facebook text this time I threatened that if I was not assisted by end of day today, I would take my issue to Consumer Watchdog. So then somebody responded that they had escalated the issue and they would get back to me but still nothing. So if you would help me I would really be grateful.

So far you've done everything any human could have done, using every possible means to contact them and cancel your policy. I don't know what else you could have done.

However, despite all of your efforts, this company doesn't seem to treat you seriously. I wonder if they know that Section 14 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that a consumer has a right to services that are delivered "in a manner and quality that consumers are reasonably entitled to expect"? We are also entitled to "timely performance and completion of those services".

In other words, I think you have a right to reasonably quick responses to requests for things like cancellations. I understand, like you, that they can't happen immediately but you cancelled this policy three months ago. That's not timely and it's not reasonable. I'll let them know.

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