Happy customers

IT'S the end of another year and Consumer Line is happy to report that we were able to recoup a good few million rands for our readers.

IT'S the end of another year and Consumer Line is happy to report that we were able to recoup a good few million rands for our readers.

Some readers had their vehicles replaced, others received their tombstones and many received their furniture afterConsumer Line stepped in.

We thank all those companies that value and respect their customers. Sadly though, some businesses and service providers still do not know that happy customers are customers for life while those who are treated badly will take their hard-earned money elsewhere.

One of the most frustrating problems customers face is being sent from pillar to post when there is a problem.

We urge service providers to be fair, attentive, respectful and to listen to their customers. Consumers feel valued when service providers pay attention to them.

l We applaud UFO furnishers. They advertise their wares in accordance with the new Consumer Protection Act, which states that consumers should know which of their branches have sales and also which items are on sale.

The majority of the provisions of the Act will come into operation on 24 October 2010 so sellers and service providers that have not yet complied, have 10 months to shape up.

Businesses will have to change the way they communicate with customers and must remember that consumers have a right to fair, just and reasonable terms and conditions. Contracts must be simplified and consumers should be able to get a copy in their preferred language when they request one.

lConsumer Line thanks Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) for replacing Thembi Shongwe's vehicle in March. Shongwe bought a brand-new Polo Classic in February 2008. Six months later, the car caught fire while she was driving it. Her insurance company, First for Women, wrote the car off.

The manufacturer listened to Shongwe's complaint for six months. We intervened. VWSA wanted the insurance company to foot the bill and First For Women insisted it was a factory defect that had caused the problem. Finally, VWSA replaced the car. They also apologised profusely for the manner in which they threated Shongwe.

l Maxwell Peter was refunded his R100000 after we stepped in. Peter bought a truck from Eugene Olivier of Multi Truck Centre in August. Olivier had promised to deliver the truck within four days of receiving the money. On August 14, Peter deposited the money into their account. Then he waited. The truck was not delivered. He approached Consumer Line and within a few days his problem was sorted out.

l We also exposed PK Vending Distributors after the company was accused of swindling six consumers out of hundreds of thousands of rands. Sowetan readers said they paid the company R439000 between October 2008 and February this year, but received no vending machines. Some of them had used their life savings, while others had taken out loans. Palesa Majela was refunded R108 000, Chuma Qwelela R75000 and Thipe Pukane R40000.

l Attorney Mawande Dumeko was accused of pocketing half a million rand from her client Friday Ukhurebor after he asked her to transfer a property into his name. Ukhurebor complained that Dumeko failed to transfer the property and later withdrew her service without an explanation.

Ukhurebor has to date not received his money and the Law Society of Northern Province is investigating.

l Best customer service has improved in the banks. We received very few complaints.

l Tow truck companies must provide better service. Consumers must call their own insurance companies before they allow a tow truck company to tow their cars away.

Consumer Line urges the government to regulate this industry.

Consumer Line will return on January 18, 2010.