No comfort in faulty Bradlows lounge suite

Thuli Zungu Consumer Line
Neo Makhubela took furniture retailer Bradlows to task after she was sold a lounge suite that did not live up to her expectations. /Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Neo Makhubela took furniture retailer Bradlows to task after she was sold a lounge suite that did not live up to her expectations. /Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Consumers have a right to return defective goods.

The Consumer Protection Act states a consumer has the right to return defective goods, within the first six months for a refund, exchange or have the goods repaired at the supplier's cost.

Neo Makhubela, 23, had exercised her right to have the goods exchanged, but later opted for a refund.

After Consumer Line stepped in, Bradlows agreed to credit her account with an amount of R27000 - the total she had paid since September 2017 - for a lounge suite she later discovered was defective.

What the law says about returns and refunds

Not every good entitles the consumer to return the goods.

The defect should be material or render the goods less useful.

The same defect must have resurfaced after the supplier was given a chance to repair it.

The Consumer Protection 
Act does not require the consumer to return the goods in the original packaging, while goods bought online need to be in the original packaging and must be done within 14 days in terms of the Electronic Communications Act.

The mother of one said that when the lounge suite was delivered the first time, the material was torn. She returned it in exchange for a new one.

But the second lounge suite was also falling apart and the material was tearing in places, she said.

The Southgate, Johannesburg, branch of Bradlows had initially agreed to cancel her contract, but later offered to credit her account with R8400, minus an amount of R16930 that they allegedly paid for the insurance to cover the lounge suite while she was still indebted to them, Makhubela said.

"I will not accept a credit of R8400; their goods were not durable and suitable for the purpose I bought them," she said.

Ankia van der Pluym, a customer relations manager at the JD Group, the owner of Bradlows, apologised for Makhubela's experience.

"Clearly the customer's experience did not meet the expectations in terms of the after-sales service we should provide. We sincerely apologise for this overall experience," she said.

The JD Group said it also wanted to assure Makhubela that "this is not the customer experience or service we strive for".

"After an investigation into the matter, we have decided to replace the customer's lounge suite with a new one," Van der Pluym said.

She said they would not give her a full refund, but would credit R27000 into her account to allow her to buy another lounge suite.

Makhubela chose another lounge suite worth R29000 and agreed to pay the difference.

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