Repairs with no happy endings - what now?
27/06/2018 Your electronic device or car has finally returned from the repair shop but instead of functioning normally, it is worse off or there seems to have been new damages as a result of the repairs.
There seems to be some confusion regarding whether or not you can return a product twice, for different issues, still under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act. The short of it is yes, you are still protected by the CPA as long as you return the product within six months of purchase or three months in the case of failed repairs.
“Repairs at your own risk”
The service provider cannot hold you liable for damages that occurred during the repair period on the basis of repairs being performed at your own risk. The CPA entitles you to a six month implied warranty on goods, and as such relieves you of the risk associated with the repairs. This is why you have the additional right to a three month warranty on all repairs.
In a similar fashion, the store will be responsible if your property goes missing during the repair period. The CPA requires stores to take adequate measures to ensure the safety of their customer's property, this includes insurance over those items where necessary.
How do I prove the damages occurred during repairs?
It is easier to prove that repairs have simply failed, i.e, the same issue keeps resurfacing meaning that the ’repair’ wasn’t effective. It is however a completely different story if the repairs have resulted in additional issues or left your item in worse condition. For instance, you take your phone in to have your screen fixed or replaced and when it finally returns, the speaker or some buttons suddenly don’t work.
Fortunately for consumers the CPA places the burden of proof on the supplier, which would in this case be the store that repairs your phone. The same would apply to a scenario where you find that your phone’s battery is not your original battery, while it may be an honest mistake, this is not always the case. Parts switching is especially prevalent in the motoring and gadgets industries.
What you can do
The responsibility to prove non-negligence or competence may lie on the repair shop, but there are still some steps you can take to ensure you get the better end of the stick when it comes to repairs.
Understand the repairs: To avoid a case of he said, she said, make sure you are clear on what the issue is and the type of repairs that will be performed. Sometimes, there are unavoidable ‘immaterial issues’ that will be caused by the repairs that won’t warrant a CPA return later on. However, most stores will try their best to restore the item to its original state, so if something doesn’t look right after repairs, they will most likely help you with it.
Inspect the item: If you fetch the item yourself or it is delivered by a representative of the store, make sure you inspect and test it in their presence and ask questions if something looks out of place. It is important to pay attention to the item in its entirety and not just the repaired component. As it were, sometimes no repairs are performed at all!
Take notes: This practice could be the difference between a positive and a negative outcome. Always take notes about how the item operated when it was returned, if you had suspicions about something as well as on which dates and who you contacted to rectify the mistake.
It seems ridiculous that repairs would cause more problems for you, but it occurs more often than you would think. Although the CPA was introduced years ago, there are still one too many instances where consumers are convinced otherwise by service providers. It is useful to get clued up about your rights and learn to speak up - if something feels like a violation of your rights, it most likely is!