Embroidery machine deal a horror story
Certain service providers have no regard for the Consumer Protection Act 12 years after it became law.
Yet since the advent of the CPA, Consumer Line has rarely had to deal with a service provider who had fallen foul of multiple sections of the act and was more belligerent when approached for comment, instead of resolving the problem.
A week ago, Lesigo Nkosi, 37, approached Consumer Line after she bought a defective embroidery machine she intended using for her business.
Nkosi said one of her suppliers referred her to G&G Garments, a company that manufactures personal protective equipment (PPE) and other related garments.
She said though G&G does not sell machines, they agreed to sell her one of their units. Ali Gora, the owner, told her the embroidery machine was fairly new and only had a problem with a central processing unit (CPU) card, which could be replaced for R2,000, Nkosi said.
"Ali was calling nonstop, saying he has a buyer and I must pay to secure the machine, that's why I paid upfront," Nkosi said.
She said she paid R110,000 for the machine but there was no contract stipulating the terms and conditions of the purchase, as required by the CPA.
"I was verbally told about the CPU defects, which I ordered Ali to repair before taking the machine but Ali insisted that I write that I was taking the machine as is
[voetstoos]," Nkosi said.
The CPA states that the seller cannot make a consumer sign a contract that takes away their rights and outlawed the sale of any goods as is.
Nkosi said Gora told her that he would send his technician to fix the defects, which she must pay for, but she expected him to fix it and had not budgeted for the repairs.
She said section 55 of the CPA requires the service provider to provide goods that are suitable for the purpose for which they are generally intended, and that any defects should be fixed at no cost to her.
Section 55 (2) of the CPA states that the goods must be in good working order, free of any defect, usable and durable for a reasonable period of time.
Section 55 (5) (a) further states that it is irrelevant whether the product failure or defect was latent or patent or whether it could have been detected by a consumer before taking delivery of the goods .
Nkosi said Gora insisted on delivering a machine that was not ready for her needs.
Two days after taking delivery, Nkosi cancelled the sale. On arrival at her premises Gora's technician allegedly demanded R1,000 to have the CPU fixed, which she paid. But she said the technician demanded R40,000 more to repair other defects.
"It was at this stage that he [Gora] disclosed the rest of the defects and I believe that he misrepresented the condition of the machine and negotiated in bad faith," Nkosi said. "I had no other option but to cancel [the sale] and return the machine to Gora."
Two days later, Nkosi returned the machine to Gora, who has subsequently demanded a storage fee of R10,000 more from her even though she cancelled the sale within two days of taking delivery.
"I had no option but to cancel the contract and return the machine to Gora for a refund as he had no replacement machine and his technician could not repair the defects without demanding further payment from me," she said.
Nkosi said the CPA allowed her a seven-day cooling off period to cancel the contract and added that in terms of section 56 of the act she can return the defective goods to the supplier to either replace the failed or defective goods or refund her.
"This is the worst unfair business practice I have ever heard of and believe that this should be exposed," Nkosi said.
Nkosi said Gora has ignored a letter of demand that her lawyer sent him in January. "Yes, I wrote that I'm buying the machine as is, but one defect was disclosed and that should not take my right away to return and demand my money back as I have not used the machine not even a single day," she said.
When approached for comment Gora told Consumer Line there was nothing he could to do to help Nkosi.
"What do you expect me to do? ... And who do you think you are? I thought I was talking to an intelligent person. You are not the president of this country and you cannot tell me how to do and how to conduct my business. I will sue you in person as well as Sowetan," bellowed Gora before ending our conversation abruptly.
Consumer Line has now referred Nkosi's complaint to the Gauteng Office of Consumer Affairs, which had agreed to consider her complaint.
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