Check goods on delivery to avoid hassles

2014-12-29 00:00

IF you’re making any furniture and appliance purchases this festive season ­remember to give your new goods a thorough inspection before waving the deliverymen goodbye.

This is because while the law is on your side, it may not always be easy to get damaged goods or those that are delivered in the wrong style or colour replaced, as consumer Joel Manamela discovered.

Manamela had been pleading with OK Furniture Polokwane for almost a year, by the time he complained to me, that he had assembled a brand new bed he had bought at the store, only to find the mattress was larger than the base set.

“I immediately phoned the sales lady who promised to report the problem to her seniors and she would give me ­feedback. She didn’t come back to me as promised,” Manamela said.

Manamela visited the store and escalated his complaint to a senior staff member, who advised that he was mistakenly given an extra length mattress, and promised to replace the unit. But several calls later, the promise remained unfulfilled.

“I also made up to four follow-ups with head office and every time I was promised that they will find out the progress of the complaint and they will come back to me before close of business on that day … I ran out of options with OK ­Furniture with their empty promises,” ­Manamela said.

When I contacted holding company, Shoprite Furniture Group’s managing director Aubrey Karp, he put the mismatched unit down to human error and immediately apologised for the “unacceptable” service.

“We sell both standard length base sets and extra length base sets. Mattresses are packed separately to bases and in both cases the fabric is the same, so ­human error crept in, and the incorrect mattress was delivered,” Karp said.

Karp agreed that in terms of the Consumer Protection Act, Manamela was entitled to return the unit and he promised to honour the consumer’s choice to have it replaced.

“This is just unacceptable service on the part of the sales person and the manager. Not only did they not react timeously to sort out the customer’s complaint, but they also broke company rules by not documenting the complaint, so unfortunately no record and escalation of the complaint took place,” he said.

Karp said staff were trained to understand the CPA and the company took ­every complaint “extremely seriously”.

“We have apologised to the customer for the lack of action to resolve his query timeously,” he said.

Manamela confirmed that OK Furniture had contacted him and made arrangements to deliver a new unit next week, but he said the experience had destroyed his faith in its customer service.

Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman Neville Melville said consumers had the right in terms of Section 19 of the CPA, to inspect deliveries to ­ensure the correct type and quality of goods before accepting them. He advised consumers not to accept delivery if goods were damaged or the incorrect type and to take a high resolution photograph and write a note on the delivery slip in such cases.

“Goods remain at the suppliers’ risk until the consumer has accepted delivery. It’s therefore important to only accept delivery once you’re satisfied that the goods are of the type and quality you ­expect, because once delivery is accepted the risk passes to the consumer,” he said.

In cases where the incorrect type or quality of goods has been delivered, ­Melville said, consumers have 10 days to return them in terms of section 20 of the CPA.

Melville added that section 55 and 56 of the CPA require all goods to be sold with an implied quality warranty.

This warranty gives consumers the right to goods that are reasonably ­suitable for the purpose intended; are of good quality, free of defects and in good working order; and durable and usable for a reasonable period of time.

“If the goods do not comply with these standards consumers have six months in which they can return the goods and ask for a replacement/repair or refund,” he said.

Importantly, this excludes cases where consumers are found to have abused the goods and caused the damage.

Melville added that in cases where ­deliveries are not made on the agreed date, consumers can cancel the transaction and demand a refund.

• Send your consumer complaints to consumer@3i.co.za

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