Respect for the CPA, kudos Cape Union Mart pavilion

Posted on March 04, 2012

I have had a TomTom Go Live 1000 for the last 3 months or so, and it has worked really well. Whenever I am driving around Johannesburg I am most grateful for the ability to see what is going on in the traffic and have the GPS direct me around problems, saving me time and aggravation.

In the last week the device has started giving problems. It won’t charge properly and keeps restarting (every 5 to 15 minutes) which is a real pain when it is directing you on a route you don’t know. Further, with the lack of charge it wouldn’t connect to the cell network so there were no traffic updates, making the device rather useless.

I had bought the device at Cape Union Mart at Canal Walk in Cape Town. The Pavilion branch in Westville, Durban is closest to my house so I went there this morning to try to sort out the problem. The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) makes it quite clear, faulty in the first six months the consumer gets the choice of Refund, Replacement or Repair. That’s the theory anyhow, in practice it seems to seldom work out that way.

I went into the store, explained the problem and the guy behind the counter was helpful to a point. He first implied that the “top of the range” device had a common fault and lots of people were having the same problem, and that TomTom had withdrawn it and were replacing it with a new model, cold comfort. He then explained the process of getting it replaced, which involved phoning TomTom (they aren’t open on weekends), getting a reference number, then coming back to the store, waiting for a replacement etc. It sounded like a long drawn out process and wasn’t going to work well for me given my travels and work schedule. He tried to call a branch in Jhb to set it up so I could do the swap there, but didn’t have a lot of luck with getting assurances the process would be smooth and work.

At this point I reminded him of my CPA rights and requested a refund as I could then just go buy another device elsewhere and bypass all of this problem (as well as extend my warranty by another 3 months). He took this well, and then offered to swap it with (a new one) they had in the back of the store somewhere. I agreed and left a few minutes later with the new device. Why he didn’t offer this when we first started the process I don’t know, but I was still happy with the outcome.

Thanks to Cape Union Mart for respecting the CPA, even if you did need a little coaxing and reminding. Don’t forget your rights, you can have a successful outcome to other painful situations if you just remind the service providers of your rights.


Finally got my phone back from Vodacom… Thanks Helena and @UysPJ

Posted on August 03, 2011

My ongoing saga with Vodacom with respect to my faulty phone is now (mostly) resolved. Thanks to Helena and @uyspj.

Background for those who missed it :

  • Got a new HTC desire on contract during late May
  • It worked for +- 10 days then died
  • Took it back to Vodacare, they confirmed it was dead (at very least the battery was stone dead and couldn’t be “boosted”), I asked for replacement under CPA as I thought was my right, they said go back Vodashop
  • Vodashop manager was extremely unhelpful, said CPA doesn’t apply to them, and they don’t represent Vodacom
  • I left the phone at the shop (on the counter and walked out) after laying a complaint with Vodacare against the shop
  • Same day I laid a complaint on Hello Peter
  • Had various interactions with Vodacom people over two months, nothing useful – weeks would go by while they were “waiting for feedback” from someone else

I sent a twitter message to @uyspj (just one) who responded immediately. Thank you Pieter, I really do admire you for interacting with your clients and following through on your actions.

@uyspj had Helena call me the next day, she asked a whole lot of questions, I mailed through what I had and forwarded various SMS’s, Helena then followed up for me.

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Vodacom vs the Consumer (Protection Act) – We lose, four nil – for now!

Posted on July 13, 2011

Vodacom and MTN continued their strong financial performance over the last year, and executives from these companies benefited from the higher profits, with the CEOs take home millions as revenues and profits increase in the telecommunications market. Vodacom’s annual report for the year ended 31 March 2011 reveals that CEO Pieter Uys received a total remuneration of R13,190,826 – up from R10,700,571 a year ago. (Article from Mybroadband).

So how are we, the consumer doing? Well, we have a new Consumer Protection Act (CPA) that came into effect from 1st April 2011 to help protect us in our interactions with the big boys who have the money (and lawyers) to make sure they get their way most of the time. Andrew Weeks’s article written back in October, “The Consumer Protection Act and the cellular industry Q&A“, gave me hope that things would change (link here).

Let’s see how things stack up.

Compensation for no service (or service interruption)?

Just a few days ago there was a major outage on the Vodacom network. Customers lost signal in parts of the country (from Cape Town to Johannesburg and inbetween) for most of the day. Many incensed customers let their dissatisfaction be known, thousand of posts appearing on Twitter all day. Pieter Uys, to his credit, ate humble pie and give his apologies on twitter, on Radio, in full page newspaper adverts and in other forums. The question then arose, will customers be compensated, and if so how.

National Consumer Commissioner Mamodupi Mohlala said that an apology from Vodacom is not good enough, and that Vodacom should refund their effected subscribers as laid out in the Consumer Protection Act (CPA). Mohlala told Radio 702 that if Vodacom’s subscribers can prove loss of income they can claim compensation from Vodacom through the CPA.

Update (25/7/2011) : 7 complaints were received by the Commissioner and forwarded through to Vodacom for comment. Nothing received back yet but this is still under investigation and could result in sanction. Details here  @ Good news indeed for the consumers.


Vodacom vs the consumer

Who's your daddy

Vodacom : No way

Vodacom spokesperson Richard Boorman said that Section 54 of the Consumer Protection Act does not make provision for a claim for damages such as loss of business or income.

“We will be responding directly to ICASA and the National Consumer Commission with respect to their inquiries on this topic,” said Boorman. (from Mybroadband)


Vodacom 1  Consumer 0

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Getting what’s due in terms of the Consumer Protection Act

Posted on April 06, 2011

The new Consumer Protection Act came into effect from the 1st April 2011.  To quote from the DTI website : “I know my rights. Do you know yours? you have rights as a consumer.  understand them.  enforce them.”

On the plane on Friday night I read in the paper (don’t remember which one, think it was one of the Cape local papers) that as consumers we now have the right to cancel an advance booking, and that the supplier may deduct a fee if we do so, but that they cannot refuse to provide a refund. Over the weekend I was looking at airline tickets and found that Travelstart have a policy which is in contravention of this. Simply put, unless you pay extra for a “Cancellation policy” you cannot get a refund for a ticket cancellation. This appears to me to be in contravention of the Act so I mailed them as below :

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