Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

On February 14 I bought a pair of trousers for my husband at a store at Rail Park Mall in Gaborone.

Unfortunately when I got home he found out that they were a bit small for him, so the following morning I took them back. I told the security man at their entrance that I wanted to exchange the trousers for a bigger size and he gave me an exchange sticker.

I took another pair from the store for an exchange only to be told by the shop attendant that they do not exchange goods which are on sale. I told her that I did not know and was never told about it, and she told me that she cannot help me.

I asked for her Supervisor, told her my story and she told me the same thing. I asked her whose fault it was since I was never told about this before and that even on their receipt of purchase there was nothing about this issue.

She told me that they cannot write everything on the receipt as they will need to do it in a book form. She also said such things were usually said out verbally but I was never told otherwise I would not have taken the trousers in the first place as I was suspicious that it may be small.

I appeal for your assistance in this matter as I believe it was their fault and not mine and also their conditions give them too much power over us the consumers!

I think this store needs some education on the law and, perhaps more importantly, good customer service.

Let’s begin with the Consumer Protection Regulations. Section 17 (1) (d) forbids “deceptive methods”, specifically “causing a probability of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the legal rights, obligations, or remedies of a party to a transaction”. By coming up with this business about the goods being on sale they are trying to confuse you.

If it’s true that they were on sale, and that the store wasn’t prepared to exchange such items then they should have made that perfectly clear to you in advance, before they took your money. What’s more, Section 17 (1) (f) forbids a store from requiring you to waive your rights “unless the waiver is clearly stated and the consumer has specifically consented to it”.

I think it’s simple. If the store wanted you to waive your rights to return unsatisfactory goods then they should have asked you to sign something to that effect. They didn’t so your rights remain exactly as they should be. So long as you haven’t damaged the trousers then you have a right to a replacement of the correct size. If they can’t find the right size then it’s time for your money to be refunded. Simple as that.

As for their customer service, do they really want people to learn that this is how they treat their customers?

I’ll get in touch with the store and see what they have to say for themselves.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I received an email from someone called Susan Shabangu saying she was a Minister in the SA government, telling me that her husband had died and asking me to help her get $30.5 million belonging to him out of South Africa.

She says that I can keep 20% of the money for myself. Can I believe her? Is this real?

No, it’s certainly not real. It’s a scam.

Susan Shabangu is indeed the Minister of Mineral Resources in the South African Government. She is also a widow. However that’s where the truth ends. This email is nothing to do with her and it’s nothing more than an advance fee scam. You can assume that if you respond to the email there will sooner or later be a demand for you to pay the “advance fee” that the scammers are really seeking.

It will probably be a lawyer’s fee or a charge to open a bank account. Of course it will all be nonsense but by that stage the victim will be so keen to get his hands on this fictitious money that he’ll pay it. That’s when the scammers will disappear, laughing their heads off and spending the money.

I suggest that you either delete the email or reply telling him what you think of him. Don’t feel any need to be polite!

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The Consumer’s Voice is brought to you by Consumer Watchdog.  We’re here to help consumers with problems with suppliers, to help consumers stand up for themselves and also to help suppliers improve the services they deliver.  It doesn’t cost you a thing so if you need our help you can reach us by email us at [email protected], by post to Consumer Watchdog, P. Box 403026, Gaborone or by phone on 3904582 or fax on 3911763.  Read the Consumer Watchdog blog where you can comment, celebrate and complain at consumerwatchdogbw.blogspot.com.  Also join our Facebook group called “Consumer Watchdog Botswana”.

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