Lowdown on returns after looting, generic cellphone chargers and cars online

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler’s ‘Watch-outs of the week’

30 July 2021 - 14:34 By wendy knowler
Are you using a generic charger with your cellphone? Be aware that could invalidate the six-month Consumer Protection Act warranty and the manufacturer’s warranty, which takes over from the seventh month.
Are you using a generic charger with your cellphone? Be aware that could invalidate the six-month Consumer Protection Act warranty and the manufacturer’s warranty, which takes over from the seventh month.
Image: 123RF/NENETUS

In this weekly segment of bite-sized chunks of useful information, consumer journalist Wendy Knowler summarises news you can use.

A perfect storm: mass store looting and a no-receipt-required recall

Supermarkets have no right to refuse to refund you for your recalled tins of Koo veggies if you don’t have a till slip proving where you bought them. Or, more to the point, that you bought them at all.

The timing of Tiger Brands’ massive recall couldn’t have been worse, coming just a few weeks after the mass looting of hundreds of shops in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

One can understand managers — especially those working in recently looted stores — being a bit jittery about issuing refunds for goods to people who don’t have receipts. All week I’ve been hearing from consumers, mainly in KwaZulu-Natal, who got the “no can do, not without a slip” response from store managers when they tried to return stock to supermarkets.

Ingrid Fakathi wrote: “I went to Checkers Davenport with Koo baked beans. However, I was not assisted because I didn't have proof of purchase, yet Tiger Brands said we can take the recalled products to any supermarket for a refund.”

The Checkers store in Davenport Square was cleaned out by looters on July 12.

Responding, Shoprite said the group would be “reiterating to stores again” that recall refunds may be done with or without a receipt.

“We apologise to customers for any confusion caused.”

The “no receipt, no refund” response wasn’t confined to Shoprite and Checkers stores.

Arvin e-mailed: “With the product recall, l have contacted three major retailers — Makro, Pick n Pay and Spar — to inquire how to return the stock l have in my possession.

“Each one indicated l need to provide a proof of purchase for the products. This is not possible as l purchased the product in bulk and l am not in possession of the slips.”

The Spar Group’s merchandise executive Mike Prentice told TimesLIVE: “Categorically and emphatically no till slip is required for recalled items. Our retailers should be aware of this, but we'll send another communication to them.”

Massmart’s group corporate affairs executive Brian Leroni said he’d followed up with all the group’s operations directors to make sure receipts for products returned to Cambridge or Makro stores as part of the recall would not be required for consumers to get refunds.

Buying a car online? Here’s how you can tell it’s a scam

Who doesn’t love a bargain, especially in these trying times? Unfortunately fraudsters know that and are very skilled at exploiting it.

A scam that is rife at the moment has fraudsters putting up websites in the name of well-known auctioneers, such as Aucor, and telling those who inquire they can buy a car “off auction” if they pay a deposit to secure it immediately.

The scams always involve a too-good-to-be-true price and urgent requests to pay on-the-spot to avoid losing the deal.

Jacques van der Linde, who sits on the board of the SA Institute of Auctioneers, says it’s important for consumers to realise two things about genuine auctions:

  • An auctioneer may not withdraw a bank reprocessed car from a scheduled auction and sell it to an interested party. “The banks require the car to be auctioned; no exceptions,” he said.
  • A  reputable auctioneer will always allow you to view a car first. “These crooks tell their potential victims they can come to look at the car, to make them feel reassured it’s not a scam, but when pushed for details, they are very cagey,” Van der Linde said.

The automotive group brand Motus had also been hijacked by fraudsters to lure unsuspecting consumers.

Corporate affairs executive Berenice Francis said: “Legal operators conform to responsible consumer practices and allow for reasonable time periods between making a purchase decision and placing a deposit or making a payment. When buying a high-ticket item like a car, be very suspicious if the seller pressures you into making a payment very quickly.

“Anyone buying a vehicle will need to be taken through a FICA onboarding and verification process as bona fide car dealers are not allowed to accept cash into their bank account without understanding the source of the funds and the client who provided them.”

It pays to know how things are supposed to happen so you can easily tell the legitimate operators from the scam artists.

Generic charger could cost you plenty

Are you using a generic charger with your cellphone? Be aware that could invalidate the six-month Consumer Protection Act (CPA) warranty and the manufacturer’s warranty, which takes over from the seventh month.

In the case of most cellphone brands, the manufacturer offers a 12-month (from date of purchase or delivery) warranty.

Samsung’s warranty is 24 months.

While investigating the case of a Samsung cellphone owner’s warranty claim — a charging issue — being rejected because the phone’s screen had a small crack at the top, I had sight of a sign listing all the other things which will cancel the manufacturer’s warranty.

This is one: “The use of a generic charger and/or charging cable will void the Samsung warranty.”

I’m pretty sure Samsung is not the only cellphone manufacturer with that in the small print.

Your CPA warranty only applies if you use the goods as instructed by the manufacturer. In this case that includes using the charger which the manufacturer recommends.

CONTACT WENDY: E-mail: consumer@knowler.co.za; Twitter: @wendyknowler; Facebook: wendyknowlerconsumer


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