Paid in May, but still no couches

The Trade and Industry Department declared one-sided contracts an unfair business practice ages ago, but Rochester Furnishers continues to force unfair deals down consumers throats.

The Trade and Industry Department declared one-sided contracts an unfair business practice ages ago, but Rochester Furnishers continues to force unfair deals down consumers throats.

Consumer Affairs and the department (DTI) have agreed to investigate the alleged unfair business practice against Rochester.

Consumer Line was investigating Lolo Mojela's complaint when it noted that he had a one-sided contract. The contract gave the company more bargaining power and literally no rights to Mojela, who paid R12000 for couches.

The Unfair Business Practices Act declared one-sided contracts an unfair business practice because of the imbalance in the parties' rights and obligations. The DTI said such contracts exploited consumers' vulnerability.

Mojela paid the money for the couches in May and he expected to receive them within 10 weeks, as Rochester had promised.

Mojela said: "When I complained I was referred to the contract that allowed delivery as and when it pleased them."

He waited until December and was then told that the factory had closed for the holidays.

But company staff assured Mojela that they would deliver in January.

"When nothing happened and I went to their office, I discovered that they had no stock nor any idea when my sofas would arrive," Mojela said.

When he cancelled his contract he was told that the company had the right to hold him liable or to release him from the contract.

"They decided not to release me," said Mojela.

The contract exonerates Rochester Furnishers from liability if it did not deliver the goods. It also allowed Rochester to debit whatever amount they deemed fit.

Anton Odendaal of Rochester Furnishers said it is unfair of Mojela to order goods and then to cancel.

Odendaal said they would not take money from any customer unfairly or commit fraud, but when an item is ordered, they commit to suppliers, who are unforgiving when there is a cancellation.

"We end up paying 20 percent. If Mojela accepts the 30 percent cancellation fee, a refund will be done within 72 hours."

The contract states that if a client cancels an order, Rochester will take a 15percent cancellation fee or whatever amount it deems fit.

Mojela rejected the offer and is adamant that Rochester had breached the contract.

"They should penalise their suppliers, not innocent consumers," said Mojela.

Odendaal said that if Rochester had erred he will refund Mojela in full, and that he was looking forward to meeting Mojela in court.

"Hopefully you will be equally diligent in publishing an apology," Odendaal told Sowetan.

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