Ombudsman names and shames companies that you should think twice before buying from

 ·25 Apr 2019

The Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman Office (CGSO) has decided to name and shame companies that have failed to cooperate with its office in relation to monies being paid and goods or services not being delivered or provided.

The CGSO warned that consumers should be cautious when dealing with these companies.

“Due to the amount of monies paid by consumers and the refusal to refund consumers or deliver the goods paid for, we have taken the decision to name the suppliers who fail to make good when this happens.”

The intention, ombudsman Magauta Mphahlele said, was to warn consumers to be careful when dealing with these suppliers and to prevent further losses.

These companies include:

  • AF-FSL Glass Distributors – Consumers ordered aluminium doors and windows, but the goods were never delivered. The supplier is not co-operating with our office and it would appear that they are in contravention of Section 40 of the CPA, having accepted payment for goods that they have not delivered. They are further contravening Section 19 of the CPA, having failed to deliver goods within a reasonable time.
  • Benna Bok – Consumers ordered and paid for leather shoes and bags, but the goods were never delivered. Despite being the subject of a recent Carte Blanche expose, Benna Bok continues to operate, taking new orders even though the complaints with our office have not been resolved. When pushed, Benna Bok claims to be busy resolving the issue but thus far has failed to resolve any of the complaints directed to our office. The supplier is not co-operating with our office and it seems they are in contravention of Section 40 of the CPA, as well as Section 19 of the CPA, i.e failing to deliver goods within a reasonable time.
  • 4 Cities Removers – In this matter the consumers paid the supplier to move their furniture from one address to another. The supplier collected the furniture but failed to deliver it. In addition to being in possible contravention of Section 40 of the CPA, having taken people’s furniture and not delivered it, 4 Cities Removers is also in contravention of Section 65 of the CPA which provides that the supplier in possession of a consumer’s property must handle it with care and account for the property when required.
  • Milo Design – The complainants paid the supplier for furniture which never arrived. Milo Design is refusing to refund consumers, stating they have a non-refund policy. To compound matters, the goods that have been delivered appear to be of an inferior quality and numerous complaints in this regard have also been received. As a result, Milo Design would appear to be in contravention of Section 40, 41 as well as Section 19, which provides that the supplier must refund a consumer if they are unable to deliver on the agreed date and time. In addition, Section 55 and 56 refer to inferior quality goods.
  • Appliance House – Consumers paid the supplier for electronic goods online, which the supplier undertook to deliver. The goods were never delivered, entitling the customers to a refund. The supplier has ceased all communication with our office and is no longer refunding consumers. Again, an apparent contravention of Section 40,41 and Section 19 of the CPA.

Increase in complaints

In the first quarter of 2019, the CGSO said that it fielded 11,787 calls from consumers who were making enquiries, following up on their complaints and lodging fresh complaints.

It also received 2,191 complaints – 696 more than for the equivalent period in 2018

“While the majority of complaints we receive relate to poor service, defective goods, cancellation of contracts, overcharging and unfair contracts terms, we are beginning to see a steady increase of instances where these complaints relate to online purchases,” said Mphahlele.

Mphahlele added that the number of online platforms and stores where consumers can buy a variety of goods usually at highly discounted prices is increasing.

Because the highly discounted prices are said to be available for a limited period, consumers are quick to make payment in order to benefit from the discount only to discover later that they have been scammed when the goods or services are not delivered or are not of the quality described, she said.

“While there are reputable online stores that have good customer service channels and cooperate with our office, we are particularly concerned by the rise of suppliers who contravene Section 40 and 41 of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), effectively taking customers’ money and failing to deliver the requisite goods or services in return.

“This is unconscionable and constitutes false, misleading and deceptive representations in the marketing of the goods and services,” she said.

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