Shoddy service and defective goods top consumer complaints

2019-07-03 06:01

THE Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman (CGSO) has warned consumers about suppliers failing to provide good quality services.

The CGSO fielded 2 191 complaints compared to 1 495 in the equivalent period in 2018, an increase of some 47%. Heading the list of complaints were issues relating to the quality of services rendered.

According to the Ombudsman Magauta Mphahlele, shoddy service and defective goods routinely top the list of complaints fielded by the CGSO and this quarter was no exception.

About 32 % of all complaints received related to services.

The top service complaints relate to services not being of expected quality, not on time, not as promised, penalties charged for cancellations, overcharging and the refusal to remedy or refund.

Weddings, car rentals, funerals, renovations, transport, accommodation, online orders and beauty treatments are some of the specific products and services that consumers complain about.

In terms of section 54 of the CPA, consumers are entitled to the following when entering into service agreements or contracts with suppliers:

>Timely performance and completion of the services

>Timely notice of any unavoidable delays in the performance of the services

>High-quality services, which consumers are entitled to expect

>Use, delivery or installation of goods that are free of defects and of a quality that persons are generally entitled to expect, if any such goods are required for performance of the services.

“Section 54 gives good guidance to suppliers on how to maintain good customer relations and service levels.

They are basically required to deliver on their promises and to let their customers know if the service will not be delivered as agreed or promised.

“They must further advise consumers of the terms and conditions relating to cancellations and related penalties, under what conditions refunds will be given, and what procedures and time-frames consumers need to comply with.

All these must be provided to consumers in clear and understandable language and must not be hidden in small print,” Mphahlele said.

Suppliers who are not able to provide services in line with section 54 are required to remedy any defects in the quality of services performed or related goods supplied; or refund the consumers a reasonable portion of the price paid for the services performed and goods supplied in the event of these being sub-standard.

Should a supplier fail to remedy a defect in the service or related product, the consumer can approach the CGSO to attempt to reach an amicable settlement.

Should the CGSO fail to successfully assist the parties to reach an amicable settlement, the consumer can lodge a complaint with the National Consumer Commission who, if warranted, can refer the case to the National Consumer Tribunal.

The Tribunal has the power to order a refund or any other suitable remedy, including fining the supplier 10% of their annual turnover.

The Ombudsman urged consumers to be vigilant when entering into service agreements by paying attention to cancellation time-frames, penalties, delivery times and procedures for returns and refunds.

Where deposits or up-front payments are required, they must make sure they trust the supplier or have done proper background checks on the company.

“Our advice is to rather, where possible, opt for progress payments based on the work completed and avoid any full upfront payments before the service is completed or product delivered,” Mphahlele added.

— Supplied.


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