Windowless 'window seats', what not to do with your brand new TV and how to save your sandals in winter
Consumer watch-outs of the week
In this weekly segment of bite-sized chunks of useful information, consumer journalist Wendy Knowler summarises news you can use:
Beware the window seat with no window
Janette Bennett was looking forward to the last leg of a long international journey — a Johannesburg to East London flight with FlySafair.
“I was zombie-exhausted, but pleased that I'd selected a window seat,” she wrote on Facebook. “And what did I get? A 'window seat' without a window.”
To make matters worse, she said: “I could barely see the aisle as both seats next to me were occupied. I could not ask to be moved as the flight was packed. I felt I was in a box, a coffin. And honestly, it was my worst-ever hour-and-a-half in an airplane. For the first time, I had to fight a sense of claustrophobia, breathing deeply to quell the panic.
“It makes me mad that airlines sell these nightmare seats as 'window seats' — there is no indication at all that they don't have windows.”
I took up the issue with FlySafair’s chief marketing officer, Kirby Gordon. “This is an issue that comes up for many airlines,” he said.
“The window-to-seat alignment across our 37 aircraft is not exactly the same. Depending on minor model variations, there is sometimes a window and sometimes not — and when there is not, it is sometimes on 11A or 12A, or sometimes in between, leaving a sort of half-window scenario. It also affects row 19 and 20.”
With the configuration only being finalised the day before or sometimes only on the day of a flight, Gordon said, “we cannot confirm what the situation will be with regard to a window at that seat at the time of ticket purchase or at the time of check-in.
“What we do on the website to avoid this issue is block those rows from pre-purchase.”
Bennett didn’t pay extra to select that 11A seat when buying her ticket; she chose it when checking in. “But I do take the point that it would be worth including some sort of additional warning on check-in, to indicate that, when selecting those seats free of charge, you’re not guaranteed a window,” he said.
Gordon undertook to raise that internally.
Meanwhile, if you’re choosing your seat when checking in, and you’re after a window seat, remember the potentially windowless window seats are in 11A, 12A, and those in rows 19 and 20.
What not to do with your brand new TV
A friend called me with bad news last week.
“I’ve just bought a huge flatscreen TV, got it home, and as my wife and I were struggling to get it out of the box, my finger pressed into the screen, and now it’s broken.
Contact your insurer by phone or website and add your new TV set to your policy before you take it home from the store. And ask the store to arrange professional transporting and installation
“Do I have any recourse?”
Legally, absolutely not. A store assistant had switched that TV on in the store to show that it was working perfectly, so they can prove it was not broken when it left the store.
Besides, my friend knew exactly when and how that TV was ruined.
In issuing a warning about this scenario not too long ago, the Consumer Goods and Service Ombud said the most common cracks formed around the edges of TV sets were from finger pressure as their new owners tried to remove the sets from packaging — exactly my friend’s scenario.
What to do: contact your insurer by phone or website and add your new TV set to your policy before you take it home from the store. And ask the store to arrange professional transporting and installation of your new TV, if they offer such a service.
Makro, for example, has a "White Glove" delivery service which includes positioning and installation of the TV. It will cost you extra, but not as much as destroying your TV before you’ve watched a single thing on it.
These shoes were made for walking — all year round
We may not be properly out of winter’s clutches, but trust me, if you have sandals with moulded polyurethane (PU) soles, you risk them falling apart if you don’t wear them at all for half the year.
PU soles are widely used in some styles of top brands of “comfort” shoes, including Hush Puppies, Froggie, Tsonga, Green Cross, Clarks, Scholl, Blundstone, Bass and Ecco — all relatively expensive brands.
Ironically, the soles don’t disintegrate due to over-wear, they do so because of lack of wear.
The act of wearing the shoes puts pressure on the soles and squeezes out the moisture in the PU. When not worn for many months, the build-up of moisture begins to break apart the foam-like structure, a process called hydrolysis. Keeping the shoes neatly packed away in a box, in a dark cupboard, accelerates the process.
Usually, by the time shoes start to fall apart in this way, their six-month “implied warranty”, courtesy of the Consumer Protection Act, is long over by then, so you have no recourse.
Some manufacturers of shoes with PU soles tell their customers about the downside of those comfy, spongy soles; others don’t.
To stop the rot, so to speak, haul out your PU-soled boots in summer and your sandals in winter once every couple of months or so and walk about in them — even it’s just for a few hours in your home.
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