CONSUMER FORCED TO BETRAY SOWETAN

VENDING Association of South Africa has agreed to assist an aggrieved consumer who is being forced to betray Sowetan in exchange for her R193000 refund.

VENDING Association of South Africa has agreed to assist an aggrieved consumer who is being forced to betray Sowetan in exchange for her R193000 refund.

A month ago, Consumer Line carried a report about PK Vending Machine Distributors, which was accused of swindling consumers.

Some of the complainants got their money back after Consumer Line intervened. One consumer was given three postdated cheques for R25000. The others have not confirmed their refunds.

Antoinette da Sousa said PK wants her to sign an affidavit denying that she complainedto Consumer Line before the company will refund her.

This was her second complaint to Sowetanin two weeks after we published her complaint against PK.

Da Sousa paid R193000 for five vending machines in March. She later realised that she had been sold old machines.

She protested and demanded her money back, but was told they were willing to refund R20000, "which I rejected with the contempt it deserved".

She said she later found out that the machines were sold for R25000 each and not R45000 as PK had told her.

She was presented with a sworn affidavit to deny telling Consumer Line that the company had taken her for a ride. If she agreed to sign the affidavit, she would get back her R193000, Da Sousa said.

She called and complained toConsumer Line that she was being unduly influenced to deny ever lodging her complaint against PK with the newspaper.

Da Sousa said she was also advised to have the affidavit attested at her local police station.

"But I refused to do so as this would be lying under oath," said Da Sousa.

PK has admitted that it intended using the affidavit in court against Sowetan, if they received it.

PK client liaison Adelle Rochestertold Consumer Line that the company has two independent recordings of meetings with Da Sousa in which she denies having spoken to Sowetan.

Rochester said Da Sousa was instigated by Norwell Mhlongo, a former employee of PK, to complain against the company. She suggested that Da Sousa would not have voluntarily sought help after they sold her second-hand equipment for R193000.

She accused Da Sousa of using Sowetan to extort more money. She said they recorded the conversations because they believed they were being manipulated.

"All PK requested in the latest settlement agreement is a date by which Da Sousa would provide such correspondence [her letter denying that she spoke to Sowetan] as she willingly said she would provide it.

"In fact, she signed the first agreement to this effect and scratched out the date," said Rochester.

Vending Association chairperson Max Hurwitz, who volunteered his service to the aggrieved entrepreneurs, is investigating PK.

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