Beware of lay-bys

SOME service providers still disregard the laws relating to lay-by agreements and take full advantage of gullible consumers.

SOME service providers still disregard the laws relating to lay-by agreements and take full advantage of gullible consumers.

If Lerato Sehoole was an of those ignorant consumer she would have given up on the money she paid to Brian Solomon of Mod-Trix, a distributor of children's furniture in Gauteng.

Sehoole put a bed for her daughter on lay-by at Mod-Trix in June this year.

The full purchase price was R3649. She agreed to pay half the amount though the deposit payable on a lay-by agreement should only be 20percent.

A month later she paid a further R600, for which she was issued another receipt.

By then the store probably knew it would relocate because that process doesn't happen overnight, Sehoole says.

"No one told me they were relocating, though they were aware my goods were in their possession and I was still paying for them."

Sehoole says she found the store closed in August and concluded that they were a fly-by-night company out to fleece consumers of their hard-earned money.

"At first I thought it was not closed, but I then saw there was nothing in the store and they had not left a forwarding address."

Sehoole says she only got to know their whereabouts from the owner of a store next door.

When she eventually found them - in Marlboro, Johannesburg - she decided to cancel her contract and demand her money back. But she was referred to the terms and condition of the contract.

But these terms she was referred to had nothing to do with the lay-by agreement she entered into.

They also had a voetstoots clause meaning goods might be delivered with defects and Sehoole would not contest that or cancel her sale based on the damage.

"That is what you get when you deal with crooks.

"They are quick to tell you their terms and conditions, forgetting there is nowhere in their contract that says I would find the shop relocated," Sehoole says.

Solomon told Consumer Line that they had wanted to deliver Sehoole's bed but she had refused to take delivery.

He said Sehoole was quick to approach Consumer Line for help when she had not paid for her bed in full.

Solomon said Sehoole was a rude and abusive consumer who hurled all sorts of insults at him whenever she called.

"She has called me more than 30 times demanding her money and swearing at me.

"I have refused to refund her because I still wanted to deliver her bed."

He denied that they left their previous premises in Boksburg without a forwarding address.

Solomon said their lay-by agreement was binding and clients would not cancel hence he insisted on delivering the bed.

But he later agreed to refund her money after admitting that he did not follow the laws regulating the lay-by agreement.