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Watch out for suppliers trying to mislead you about warranties

15 May 2019 2:28 PM

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler examines buyers' rights and the just-released Banking Services Ombudsman's report.

Have you ever tried to return an item within the warranty period and been told your warranty is void because of a cosmetic defect?

The reason given could be something silly like a stain on a car seat, or something quite unrelated to the problem like being told that because you punched an extra hole in a sandal's ankle strap it negates the fact that the sole has come away from the upper.

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler says this kind of response from a supplier would be ridiculous and unfair.

Quoting Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman Magauta Mphahlele, she points out that it would also be illegal in terms of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

Suppliers relying on stains, scratches and the like implies that the CPA intended for a warranty to apply only if the goods are not used. This would be ridiculous and defeat the purpose of the CPA.

Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist

If the item has been used according to manufacturer instructions and has not been tampered with, then the warranty stands. Normal wear and tear is not altering as per the definition of Section 56.

Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist

Section 56 of the CPA says that if you buy something and it becomes defective in some way within six months, you have the right to your choice of a refund, replacement or repair, provided you haven’t caused the problem yourself.

Knowler says it is vital that you know what your rights are in terms of the Act.

A lot of people are denied warranties because of these cosmetic issues and if you don't understand your rights you then lose out.

Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist

She also discusses the just-released Banking Services Ombudsman's annual report for 2018.

Among the findings is that out of more than 7000 cases opened by the Ombud’s office last year, 37% were related to maladministration by the bank concerned.

That's the word that the Ombud's office uses when a bank doesn't follow its own internal procedures and that led to their customer suffering some kind of loss, distress or inconvenience...

Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist

Maladministration also covers failure to conduct an affordability assessment when granting credit... in other words, reckless lending.

Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist

Knowler also notes that since January, credit card fraud has spiked, although this is of course not mentioned in the 2018 report.

She says among the measures to protect yourself, the most important is to have your bank's fraud hotline number saved on your cellphone.

If you get a call purporting to be from the fraud department you can end the call and phone the bank directly to verify if there has in fact been an incident of fraud linked to your account.-

For more important tips from Knowler, listen below:


15 May 2019 2:28 PM

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