Saturday 25 November 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Both cars were bad. What can I do?

In September I found this Nissan March advertised on Facebook. I inboxed the owner. The price was 16k and I negotiated to 13.5k. I stay in Palapye and the car was in Mogoditshane. Before I paid I asked the owner if the car had any faults and his answer was "No faults". I asked my brother who is staying in Gabs to go and meet the guy so I can send the money and he can collect the car. I paid and he collected the car. He complained about the worn out tyres so I sent money for two tyres and petrol so that he can drop it here at Palapye for me.

The car arrived the following day, when checking it the doors were not locking, windscreen was cracked, left indicator was not working, boot was not closing, the lights were bypassed by a cable (both the front and the back), shocks, CVs, stabilizers were dead, sensor cable was dead. So I started buying all these things and fitted them.

I inboxed the owner and he said ok let me give you a Mazda 3 hatchback but with top up of 5k. I asked him about the faults and he said no faults. This time around I asked him to drop it here in Palapye because my brother was not around and he agreed. He requested 500 for petrol and I sent but after sending it took him 2 days to deliver the car. The car arrived 16th October at around midnight and he instead of him coming he sent someone. The guys arrived, handed the car and took that other one then left for Gabs, but before leaving he told me I should replace the bolt for the left back shock because on his way to Palapye they came out and the car was making a terrible noise on that shock and also the other front wheel was replaced with a very small spare wheel. So I refused to give him the agreed 5k instead I gave him 3k because I had to fix the shock and tyre.

In just a week I already found the car was giving me more problems, the oils were leaking, water bottles were broken, CVs were dead, door locks are damaged, handbrake not working, some front lights not working, the left back light broken, the car looks like it has had an accident before. So I replaced CVs, water bottle, gearbox oil, handbrake oil, bolts for shocks. I did this in just one week. The second week I inboxed him to come get his car, I don't want it anymore. His response was I stayed too long with the car. Last week I went to Gabs I called the guy, he did not answer, so I called the guy who delivered the car. He refused to give us the location of their garage in Mogoditshane. When we were just about to give up the guy answered and he said he was on his way to Zim and he will come back this coming week.

Yesterday I Inboxed the guy again, I asked him to give my money and get back his car or give me Toyota Vitz and the guy said I should bring the car so that he can sell it for me, but he can only sell it for 23k, but I've spent around 29k on his cars, I even bought new tyres for this car because the tyres were dead and the wires inside were visible. Help me please.

I'm really sorry to hear about this, honestly I am. But you need to forgive me for what I'm about to say. Obviously this car dealer is shady, we can all see that from what you've reported. However, you've made almost every possible mistake you could have made.

Firstly, on two occasions you paid for vehicles you hadn't test-driven or had inspected. Even an amateur would have spotted some of the obvious faults with both of these vehicles if they'd just taken a look before paying. I know you live far away from the dealer but you should have organised a friend or mechanic to take a look at the vehicle. Secondly, you accepted each vehicle and paid your own money to have the many faults fixed. You should have rejected the vehicles as soon as they arrived and demanded a complete refund instead of trying to fix them.

I think the best thing you can now do is approach the authorities. The Competition and Consumer Authority have had some success in the past dealing with shady car dealers so maybe they can perform come magic?

Saturday 18 November 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

How much can they charge me?

We hired certain lawyers in back in 2017 for a court case. We had paid all the money which was agreed. The was no written agreement. We verbally agreed on the amount.

Till today the matter is still before court so the lawyers have started billing us the money we didn't agree from the start (hidden costs). They have never called us to the table to enlighten us about the bill.. When we ask them they threaten they will take our bill to court and so forth. So in this matter how do I handle it? Please kindly help.

It's very important to understand that like every other profession, lawyers offer a range of different qualities. I've met some attorneys who are highly intelligent, educated and understand their area of the law in the greatest detail. They're also completely committed to their clients' welfare and offer only the very best advice and service.

Then there are others. I've met some who clearly have no real understanding of the law, some whose legal understanding is very poor indeed. I've also met some that are only in the job for the prestige. And the money.

I don't know the lawyers you engaged but they should know how important it is to have agreements in writing. Unless they don't want that for some reason? Also they need to learn to communicate better. They need to be constantly updating you on the progress your case is making and the costs they're incurring. I suggest you write or email the Managing Partner asking for a summary of the fees charged so far and what they anticipate charging you in future. Copy your message to the Law Society as well.

The lesson for the future is that legal agreements need to be in writing. And lawyers that don't insist on that are acting very suspiciously.

Where's my refund?

On 26th September I ordered a table from a company I discovered on Instagram. I made a deposit of P600 for it. The order was to take 9 days to complete. I was in contact with the owner of that establishment.

On 9th October I asked for progress and was told the delay is because we had Independence holidays so that week I should expect my table to be delivered on the weekend. Then I was told they experienced a lot of power cuts which slowed down the time for material turnover so I'll have the table Tuesday 17th, latest Wednesday 18th. On Thursday 19th I was then told the supplier was having a problem with their machinery so I am to be refunded.

So Tuesday 24th October I made a follow up on my refund and from then up until now I'm tossed to and fro about my money to the extent that I am getting different stories. I am asking that you help me get my refund because they have been giving me stories which are not consistent.

As I've said before, we all understand that businesses often have delays beyond their control. However, it is the job of suppliers to keep us informed when these delays happen. It's also the law. This supplier clearly either forgot about this or doesn't care. They should have told you when the delays first happened and then when the refund was delayed.

I contacted the supplier and he promised to refund you within a few days.

Update: The refund was paid.

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

When will it be finished?

I need your advice. There is this interior company. I engaged him in 2021 to do my house interior in Letlhakane. He was to do everything inside the house, electrical works, plumbing, tiling, wardrobes, and kitchen. I had paid everything in full because I wanted to ease it on my side.

He started it well, but during the course of 2023, he started giving me bad service. The job was not done properly, and some not finished. I approached him and complained, and he will promise better service of which he didn't fulfil. I have been patient enough with him. To date, he is still promising to come and finish up, he comes up with stories every time. Where we are now, the ceiling is complete but left with painting and closeups, the lighting is complete, the floor tiling is 80% done but poorly, the wardrobes, TV stands, headboards, and kitchen sides are at 0%.

He said he is coming Friday after missing Wednesday but he didn't, he keeps promising like that. I told him if he doesn't honour his promises I am seeking help.

I agree 100%. You've been patient enough with him. Perhaps too patient. I'm sure we all understand that businesses sometimes have unexpected problems that cause delays but we pay contractors because they're experts and should know how to deal with these problems. At the very least we deserve what Section 14 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says we should get: "timely performance and completion" of the services we pay for and "timely notice of any unavoidable delay".

I contacted the supplier and explained your concerns. To their credit they responded very quickly, saying that they: "have an small issue with the our sub contractor who was supposed to have left yesterday" and that they "will surely close this as soon as we can". They asked that you "give us this month to complete the works".

Hopefully now they'll get things done?

Why won't they fix my bed?

Kindly assist me here. I purchased a bed from in May this year. Two weeks later the bed started having some funny noise. I immediately notified the store assistant who seemed to be responsible for complaints. He then told me that he would send a report to the manufacturer and he promised me that I would get a call from the manufacturer who unfortunately did not call. I then did a follow up again with the store. Fortunately this time around they called and asked me to send videos of the bed and the pictures of the bed of which I did. Ever since then I haven't heard from them but in a dire situation as this bed poses a threat to my health.

I think the staff in this store need a good night's sleep on a comfortable bed because clearly they're tired. Tired of customers, tired of complaints and tired of doing the right thing.

What they seem to have forgotten is that you didn't buy the bed from the manufacturer. You bought the bed from the store, the retailer. Section 16 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that when we buy something, "the producer or importer, the distributor and the retailer each warrant that the goods comply" with the obligation to sell goods of good quality. So the retailer can't say it's the manufacturer's responsibility to fix the problem. It's everybody's responsibility. In particular it's the retailer's responsibility.

I'll contact the store and remind them that they sold the bed and it's their job to come and collect it and fix it, replace it or refund you.

Monday 6 November 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where are my licenses?

I saw one post where you helped one lady with a consultant issue and I'm hoping you could help me also.

I gave one lady money amounting to P1,900 as a deposit for cleaning and supplies commercial licenses in November 2021. I never received any documents till today. I tried it all to get help from the police to different ministries with no help. Right now there's a cleaning license accumulating arrears in my company name at Gaborone city council. I can't close the file because they need the original license of which I don't have.

Yes, if you search you'll find that we've had many complaints about 'consultants' over the years. Almost always it's the same story. They take your money, promise to do the work and then there's a mixture of delays and silence.

There' s nothing wrong with using consultants. A good consultant either knows things we don't, or they just have enough experience to know how to get things done quickly and efficiently, particularly if it involves government bureaucracy. Anyone who's tried to get business permits and licences knows that it can be a time-consuming and confusing experience. That's why it's sometimes worth spending money to get an expert to do it for us.

But, like in all industries there's a range of skills, talent and reliability available. There are good consultants and there are bad consultants. I think I know which type you've got.

I contacted this consultant and they said they'll "check files" and come back to me.

The lesson? Before you engage a consultant, ask around. Ask your family, friends, neighbours, workmates, anyone with experience if they've used a consultant and would they recommend them. You might even find that these days you don't need one. If you do, maybe suggest a 50/50 payment plan. 50% up front, the balance on completion. That's always a great incentive to be reliable.

Do I need the packaging?

I bought a tv, I used it for a period of two weeks and it was working just fine. After two weeks it stopped working. I called the store and alerted them about same. They requested me to furnish them with the details of the tv which I did and they came collected the tv. Then when they had already collected it they said I should take a photo of the box all sides. By that time I had already disposed the box. Now even to date they have not assisted me with the replacing or repairing the same tv. They are saying they are waiting for a technician from the supplier and also they say the box should be availed for them to assist me so I humbly seek your assistance regarding the matter. What should I do in the matter?

What do readers think? Is it reasonable for a store that sells an item like a TV to demand that you keep the packaging it came in? Personally I don't think so. However, it IS a reasonable thing to do if you have some storage space. I recently bought a small Smart TV (it's amazing what bargains you can find if you shop around) and I have kept the box in case I need to move it. But that's because I had some space available.

But unless the TV has somehow been damaged, which I doubt because you said it worked ok for the first 2 weeks, it's up to the store to identify what the problem is. The box isn't relevant.

I contacted the store to see what they suggest. I think the first thing they should do is identify what's wrong with your TV before making unreasonable demands.