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Gas safety during load-shedding, why your cellphone number may be recycled and online purchase delivery

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

01 April 2022 - 15:01
Each network has its own 'don’t use, you lose' dormancy period for cellphone numbers.
Each network has its own 'don’t use, you lose' dormancy period for cellphone numbers.
Image: 123RF/NENETUS

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

Delayed online purchase delivery — what are your rights?

Before you place an online order, do yourself a favour and do research on how long they’re taking to deliver orders on average.

Mandisi engaged me this week about an online order he placed with a major retailer. “They promised delivery within five to seven days, but I’ve been waiting almost three times that long,” he said.

“I want a refund. Can I just not accept delivery from the courier?”

If he’d bought the item in a physical store, yes, he could do that for a full refund. That’s thanks to the Consumer Protection Act, which states, “If the supplier delivers goods on a date or at a time other than as agreed with the consumer, the consumer may cancel the agreement without penalty”.

But in the case of online orders, the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act applies, and it states, “The supplier must execute the order within 30 days of order placement ... unless the parties have agreed otherwise”.

If they fail to do that, the consumer may cancel the order “with seven days’ written notice”.

If the goods ordered are not available the retailer must “immediately” notify the customer “and refund any payments within 30 days after the notification”.

Mandisi has sent his notification of cancellation and is counting the days.

Don’t give your cellphone network a reason to take your number from you

If you don’t use a SIM card or recharge it with airtime or data regularly your cellphone network will most likely disconnect you and recycle your number.

They do this because there is a finite number of cellphone numbers available.

Each network has its own “don’t use, you lose” dormancy periods, so make sure you know how long you have if you have a second “just in case” phone or an elderly relative who has a cellphone for emergency use only.

There’s another way you can lose your number — fail to pay your cellphone service provider what you owe them.

Rebone stopped paying her Vodacom account when her income was affected by the Covid-19 lockdown. She made an arrangement to pay off her R9,000 debt monthly and converted her contract to prepaid. But when she defaulted on her payment arrangement the network “confiscated” her number.

Load-shedding got you cooking with gas? Best you do it right

SA's largest short-term insurer is urging households to make the shift to gas appliances, given Eskom’s latest load-shedding forecasts.

Santam says SA is likely to see 61 days of power outages between now and August, which could mean load-shedding every three days.

Up to now, Santam’s most common load-shedding-related claims have been power surge damage, spoiling of fridge contents and burglary-related claims. But with many consumers switching to gas appliances, the insurer is concerned about a spike in gas-related claims — explosions and fire.

“Whether you’re considering buying a gas stove or have already bought a gas heater for winter, there are several safety considerations you need to prioritise when you have your gas appliances installed," says Rowland Ramalingam, head of non-motor claims at Santam.

  • Gas equipment and systems must be installed in accordance with SABS requirements (SANS087).
  • When a property with a gas appliance installation is sold, a certificate of conformity must be obtained for the gas system and provided to the purchaser.
  • Only gas bottles containing less than 19kg of gas may be stored inside a building.
  • When using gas stoves, ensure that there is sufficient ventilation, don't open the gas flame too high and make sure the gas is turned off properly after use.

“A reputable insurer can help with risk management and mitigation,” Ramalingam said.

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

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