Widow's kitchen misery - company promises to deliver new cupboards

ONE-SIDED: Gloria Ntshalintshali of Diepkloof, Soweto, is accusing a supplier of reneging on fitting her kitchen units after she had paid the full purchase price Photo: Bafana Mahlangu
ONE-SIDED: Gloria Ntshalintshali of Diepkloof, Soweto, is accusing a supplier of reneging on fitting her kitchen units after she had paid the full purchase price Photo: Bafana Mahlangu

WHEN Gloria Ntshalintshali bought kitchen units from Classic Steel Kitchens in June, she did not know she was entering into a one-sided contract.

A one-sided contract is when a contract gives a service provider more rights than the consumer.

Ntshalintshali, 59, of Diepkloof, Soweto, and a mother of four, says after the cleansing ceremony for her late husband, she wanted to change everything that reminded her of their earlier memories.

She renovated her house by repainting the walls. After burning his clothes that she could not give to relatives, her next step was to renovate the kitchen after receiving her husband's death insurance payout.

"I still wanted a steel kitchen in his memory but not the old-fashioned type," Ntshalintshali says. "My daughter then googled a company that manufactures the modern type."

She was happy to engage Classic Steel Kitchens who promised to do the job by the middle of July.

Ntshalintshali visited Classic Steel Kitchens's offices in Edenvale for a quotation.

She was told to take measurements before they could give her a quotation or start to manufacture her units.

As she is not an expert, Ntshalintshali asked someone to take the measurements on her behalf.

After giving the measurements to Classic Steel Kitchens, Ntshalintshali paid the full purchase price of R14854, which included a delivery fee.

At the time Classic Steel Kitchens were manufacturing units for Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and undertook to deliver hers within two weeks. Ntshalintshali says she was later told to fetch her units herself.

She hired a van to fetch the units in August but when she got to the firm, she found that the units had not been manufactured.

In the meantime, she had removed her old kitchen units to make way for the new ones.

Ntshalintshali now stores most of her groceries in buckets and under her bed as the kitchen unit a neighbour lent her is too small for all her goods.

She has now been told that she will also have to get someone to instal the units although Classic Steel Kitchens had promised to manufacture and fit the high-quality units when they were still courting business from her.

A man who introduced himself as Heinrich told Consumer Line earlier this week that Ntshalintshali's units were ready but said that the company did not get involved in the fitting.

"We also made no undertaking to deliver the units. She must fetch them herself," Heinrich said.

But it seems Ntshalintshali's misery will soon be over as the company later agreed to deliver her kitchen units after Consumer Line stepped in.

The company had a change of heart yesterday when Richard Dicks of Classic Steel Kitchens told Consumer Line there were a few snags they needed to attend to before they could help her.

"We will deliver them tomorrow," Dicks said.

  • For a contract to be valid and binding in terms of South African law and the Consumer Protection Act, among other aspects there must be a meeting of minds, meaning the consumer and the service provider must agree in writing or verbally on what must be done, how and when.
  • The necessary formalities must be observed and the contractual obligations must be possible for performance.
  • The deal should not be on a "take it or leave it" basis with a person with clearly less bargaining power.
  • The service provider must not penalise a consumer who wants to terminate a one-sided contract.
  • The Consumer Protection Act describes these contracts as unconscionable acts or practices which might occur during or after the consumer has entered into a contract.

- Additional information sourced from Polity.org.za


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