Saturday 16 March 2024

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay?

I need your assistance. I found out at my bank today that I was blacklisted by a furniture store. I have returned the bed I bought with high purchase from them on the 14 October 2022 letting them know that I am out of employment at the time. They now say I owe the amount P6,609 though they say they sold the bed too. I talked to the accounts dept who informed me that I owe more than P8,000. They say though I returned the bed they were still charging which was not what I was informed. I was told to return the bed so that the debt would stop accumulating. Please assist me. I need to know if this is right or wrong.

Unfortunately, some of what you've been told is right and some is wrong. The bad news is that there is no good news. You almost certainly DO owe the company a lot of money.

One of the many horrible secrets about hire purchase is that the goods you receive and the money you owe are not connected. It's called 'hire purchase' because you are hiring the goods until you pay the final instalment. Only then have you purchased the goods. Until that time the goods still belong to the store.

What this means in practice is that if you fail to pay your instalments, the store can immediately repossess them (because they still own them and you don't) but you will still owe them the hire costs for the remainder of the period you agreed to. Some stores will sell the repossessed goods and deduct the money they get from your balance but others don't even do this. Either way, you'll still owe them a lot of money and that amount will only increase as they add interest and penalty fees.

The best thing to do is to speak to the store as soon as possible and try to negotiate a repayment plan that you can afford and that the store can accept.

And don't buy thing on hire purchase again. It's much better to save money and buy things for cash.

What should they do?

Good day Richard. I have a situation here, I bought a Tecno Pop 7 phone from a store in Game City about a month ago. After a system update the phone had a technical glitch, it went on Device Lock mode, I couldn't access anything. The instructions on the screen explicitly said I should return to the seller which I did. I went to check on them to get a status report or a replacement phone since I don't have a working phone at the moment.

I asked the owner of the store to replace my phone with another of the equivalent amount or to reimburse me with the amount I paid so that I buy a working phone, but he refused stating that according to the Consumer Protection Act, they are allowed 21 days to fix the phone but their warranty terms did not state this.

Richard, I need help with this matter urgently because I am greatly inconvenienced. I was not given a courtesy phone and I feel I am being taken for a ride. Please advise on the way forward.

Unfortunately the store is correct. The Consumer Protection Act does indeed say that the store has a right to attempt to repair a faulty item. In full, it says that the store can choose to repair it, replace it or to refund you. But it IS their choice which option they prefer.

However, it says nothing about a 21-day period, they're making that bit up. The Act suggests that there must be "timely performance and completion" of any services but it doesn't mention a particular time.

Something the store might not know, or perhaps chooses not to tell you is that if they repair the phone and then the same problem happens again within 3 months, they lose the option to repair it. Then they can only replace it or refund you.

Together, let's educate the store on what your rights really are and suggest they hurry up?

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