Gatvol: This is what consumers are fed up with!


29/06/2018 This past month, we looked into what ordinary consumers are tired of putting up with. In this article, we look at the top complaint picks from our social media and analyse them according to the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act.

Warranty woes: Asanda's computer started blacking out and not charging randomly five months after she bought it. When she returned it to the store for a refund, she was told the store's policy was 'repair first, refund second.' After a month, the problem started again and once again, she took it in. When she got there, the store assistant and manager told her that unfortunately, most of the computer's warranty had expired while it was in storage. Unaware of her rights, she went on to sell the computer for what she could and bought another one from a different store.

The CPA prohibits the ‘repair first, refund later’ policy - Asanda actually has the right to demand a refund instead of having her laptop repaired first. Also, the manufacturer’s warranty only kicks in once you have bought the item, not when it is placed in storage or on the shelf. If Asanda had chosen to have the laptop repaired, she would have also received a three month warranty on the repairs done. This means that should the laptop have stopped working within 3 months after it was repaired, she could take it in to be repaired again at no cost to her.

READ: Electronic device returns and warranty woes

Unauthorised cellphone contract upgrade: After declining an upgrade on her existing phone contract, Evette was shocked to receive an email 'confirming the upgrade.' Despite several assurances from consultants about the cancelled upgrade, she still received an SMS from the courier company regarding the delivery of her new phone!

Even with the CPA’s provisions, some service providers still don’t give consumers full information when it comes to the different options available to them when their contracts approach expiration. Instead, they misguide them into agreeing to an upgrade! This is why you find many consumers complaining that they don’t recall authorising an update and service providers arguing otherwise.

In Evette’s case, it important for her to take note of any communication with the service provider. Once the new phone arrives, she should not accept it as that may be interpreted as an approval of the upgrade. Although she is very clear on her refusal of the upgrade offer, it is still important for her to write to her service provider expressing her decision, in order to avoid incurring cancellation fees.

Extra sauces? It seems to be a recurring experience that at restaurants consumers are asked if they'd like extra sauces and even serviettes, but never receive any. One Twitter consumer shared that she ordered a meal for 8 people and requested extra sauces but only received 2 sachets of ketchup!

This is especially a difficult situation if you order food online because you can’t really complain on the spot for a speedy resolution. In most cases, you can only give the restaurant feedback after a rather unpleasant meal.

If a restaurant gives you the option to request extra condiments, you are entitled to expect to receive what you ask for. Failure to serve or deliver your meal as per your request is unacceptable. If you experience this, you should raise an issue with the restaurant as this may help prevent this from happening again. If you are eating in, always address the issue with your waitress or the manager immediately instead of after your meal.

Food delivery gone wrong: ‘My friends and I waited FOUR hours for a large pizza [that] came as a small pizza!’

The first thing to look at is whether or not the delivery service is offered by the restaurant itself or outsourced. It is often hard to refuse to take delivery of an order if the driver doesn’t work for the restaurant. As soon as you realise that your order is wrong, raise an issue with the delivery driver and/or restaurant. If you can, call the customer care department and explain the situation, find out how they can rectify the order or if their proposed remedy doesn’t suit you then you can also ask for a refund

Another quick solution to a delivery that takes forever is to cancel it. Unfortunately, this will be on the terms of the restaurant if you had already been charged for it.

READ: What to do when food deliveries go wrong

The trend in complaints certainly echoes the Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman’s complaints report released earlier this year. According to the report, their top three complaints categories for 2018 so far are bad service, defective products and contract cancellation. In the first quarter of this year, nearly 1500 cases were opened! The upward trend of cases received by the ombud are a sure sign of more consumers enforcing their rights and holding companies accountable - kudos to them!

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