Friday, 17 June 2011

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

We had bought a king size bed for more than P10,000 from a furniture wholesale store in the Broadhurst area. After one year, the base bed completely broke down to pieces and as I am writing this message, I and my wife are supporting the mattress with bricks. When we alerted the shop owners about this, they told us that the base bed had a 12 months guarantee only, and therefore there was nothing they could do. We bought this base bed in August 2009 which means the bed is almost 2 years old now, but we used it for just over 12 months before it broke down.

We are therefore appealing to you to help us get a fair deal on this issue if you can. We feel cheated and humiliated.

Unfortunately I suspect there is not much that can be done in this case. The warranty you were given, even though it was pitifully short, was a fair warranty so long as you hadn’t been, errrr…, shall we say “misusing” the bed. If you’d had problems during the first year then clearly the store should have remedied them but it’s now just too late.

Personally I find it remarkable how shoddy much of the furniture is that stores sell. While they often look special in a store you only have to get them home and look under the soft covering to discover that they’re often made of scrap wood.

When you buy furniture I think the lesson is to demand to see how it’s been made. Ask the people in the store to turn it upside down and show you the insides. There’s nothing unreasonable about this. You wouldn’t buy a computer without knowing a bit about it’s components and you certainly wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a spin and looking under the hood so why not with furniture?

This is even more important if you’re buying it on credit. And before you sign that credit contract ask yourself why the store wants you to pay for 2 whole years but will only warranty the item for one year? It can’t be because they are making massive profits from money-lending and realize that their products are rubbish, can it?

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

On the 28th of May 2011 I bought a DVD player from a Chinese shop in Mogoditshane. I never had time to watch any DVDs because of my work so over the weekend, the 5th of June to be precise I thought of watching a movie since I was off, but the DVD player could not play it went on and off so I switched it off and thought of taking it back where I had bought it since it was still less than a month.

When I got to the shop, the lady working there tested it and confirmed it was not working, but despite all this, the lady in charge raised her voice at me and told me they is no refund unless they fix it for me and they charge me for that service

I therefore think that is not fair and I am kindly asking your good office to help me with this situation and advice me on what procedure to take.

Let me start by asking a question. When you bought this DVD player did you sign an agreement saying that the store could treat you like dirt? Did you sign something saying that you freely, voluntarily and without any pressure waived away your legal rights as a consumer? Did you sign a form saying that you would allow them to treat you with contempt and disrespect?

I thought not.

I suggest that you go back to the store and explain to them that they have breached their obligations under the Consumer Protection Regulations 2001. Specifically they have breached Section 13 (1) (a) of the Regulations which says that a supplier “fails to meet minimum standards and specifications” if they sell something that “is not of merchantable quality”. If they don’t understand “merchantable quality” you can tell them it means “fit for the purposes for which commodities of that kind are usually purchased”.

A DVD player should be able to play DVDs. It should just work. If it doesn’t work they must either replace it or repair it entirely free of charge. Simple as that.

If this doesn’t persuade them ask them whether they want to be named so everyone knows how badly they treat their customers.

The good news

A few weeks ago we reported on the debt collector who were avoiding paying their customer the money they had collected on her behalf. They finally paid up and reader is happy again.

We also reported on a furniture store who had taken a deposit from a consumer for a bed but had failed actually to deliver anything. The consumer, being an honest guy, had nevertheless continued making payments. We got in touch with the MD of the store chain and within days the entire thing was sorted out and the customer was refunded everything he’d paid.

See? It’s worth complaining and persisting until things get fixed.

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