Saturday, 2 September 2017

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can’t they repair my broken TV?

I bought a television on high purchase from a furniture store in the Main Mall Gaborone last year. The selling price was P8,999 but through high purchase was P18,999 of which I managed to pay more than P10.000.

I happened to miss some installments due to financial problems which I alerted them about. Then my TV got damaged due to a power cut and I went to them to inform them about the television. To my surprise they told me that they can’t repair nor replace it because of my arrears and when I asked them to at least take it back because I can’t pay something that I am not using. Still they are refusing even though the television is still under guarantee. Please help!

Unfortunately you’re in a very bad situation. Let’s start at the beginning. It’s not “high purchase” although I can understand why anyone would think it is. It’s certainly a very high-priced way to buy something. Your own figures show this. You were buying something that was available for P8,999 cash but for more than double that price on HIRE purchase. That’s what it’s really called. The word is “hire” and it’s very important that you understand that. Until you pay the last instalment you’re only hiring the TV and only then will it becomes your property. The other thing to understand is that the hire purchase agreement that you signed certainly included a clause saying that their obligation to fix the TV if It went wrong was only valid if you were up-to-date with your instalments.

Finally, even if you weren’t in arrears, I suspect they wouldn’t have repaired anyway because it had been damaged due to a power cut or the power surge that followed it and these events are often excluded from the warranty. It wasn’t, after all, the store’s fault that there was a power cut.

A quick tip. Install a surge protector with every sensitive electrical item or on your main distribution board. It might prevent expensive items from exploding when there’s a power surge.

Probably the only thing you can do is to rapidly catch up with your instalments and then see if the store can then honour the warranty.

Must I keep the box?

I bought a Huawei smart phone around March this year. In less than a month after purchasing the phone, the phone began freezing and switching off on its own. I then took it back to the shop and they tried to fix it and when I collected it the mouth piece was damaged. They refused to fix the mouth piece. After a few days the phone began freezing and switching off on its own like before. I took it back and they tried to fix the phone but failed to fix it and then they agreed that they will give me a new phone since they failed to fix that one.

Yesterday when I went to the shop they told me to bring the box of the phone. I told them I misplaced it and then they told me that they I won't be given a new phone because of the misplaced box and they can't help me anymore. Is this right?

Who cares about the box? How does it matter?

Well, it DOES matter if you agreed when you bought the phone that the box was so important that you needed to keep it. But did you? Did you sign anything saying that you agreed to keep the box the phone came in? If you did NOT sign such an agreement then the store can’t demand it. Section 17 (1) (d) of the Consumer Protection Regulations forbids a company from causing “a probability of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the legal rights, obligations, or remedies of a party to a transaction”. Making up a rule after a problem occurs that you must supply the original packaging is clearly causing such a confusion. Section 17 (1) (e) also forbids them from “disclaiming or limiting the implied warranty of merchantability” unless they made the requirement to keep the box very clear when you bought the phone.

I suggest you double check whether there is any evidence that you agreed to keep the box and if there isn’t, go and explain the law to them. See if they feel like obeying it before we escalate things further.

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