Last Friday, an engineer Tobison Oluso tried in vain to hold his anger and frustration in check as he could not understand why a shop within Ikotun Egbe shopping Mall would refuse to give guarantee on products purchased from it.
In his anger, he called ConsumerWatch pointing out that even the receipt issued to him was bearing, ‘goods purchased in good order cannot be returned or money paid refunded back to the buyer’.
“I did not notice all these till I got home and had a closer look at the receipt. Again, I expected a guarantee but did not know there was none. At this point, I went back to the shop and demanded a refund of my money which I did not get,’’ lamented Tobison Olusola.
He appealed to ConsumerWatch to intervene and appeal to the electronics company, ‘Y.K Electronics’, to revert their policy and issue him with a guarantee on the LG television set he bought or take the television set back and refund his money.
However, manager of the shop, Mr. Kola Ojo, explained, though arrogantly, that the shop on its own cannot give buyers guarantee on any product as they are not qualified to do so as they did not manufacture the product.
Pointing to a carton of an LG television set which has a silver and red sticker bearing, ‘2 year warranty’ MEZ64833201, he observed that the manufacturer had already guaranteed the product and there was no need for further guarantee from the retailer.
On the additional information on the receipt which stated that ‘goods bought in good condition are not returnable nor can money be refunded to buyers’, the manger explained that sometimes customers buy goods in excellent condition, damage it at home and bring it back to the shop for an exchange or a refund.
“We make sure we sell goods that are in good condition. If it is electronics, we test it for buyers before they leave the shop. If the buyer then goes with the product and comes back later to claim it does not work, we will not accept it nor refund the customer,” emphasised the shop manager.
Yes, it may not be the responsibility of the retailer to issue guarantee or warranty, as he is not the manufacturer, but he is the person between the buyer and the dealer or manufacturer. It is his sole responsibility to clear any confusion the buyer may have concerning guarantee or any other worries over his purchases.
The buyer does not have access to the dealer or the manufacturer but the retailer does.
Presenting the case to LG electronics, a top management staff who preferred anonymity, said that LG television sets come with two years’ guarantee. “If anything happens to the product as listed in the conditions of the guarantee, we encourage the consumer to take the product to our Service Centre at No. 22 Boma Rd. Apapa, Lagos, for a free replacement of a part or servicing subject to what is wrong with the product.
“Depending on what is wrong with the product, the consumer may not need to spend more than two hours in our service centre as we have a fully equipped and modern service centre with world class professionals to attend to customers.”
However, the LG staff warned that the product concerned must be genuine LG product, adding “that is why we advise consumers to patronise LG brand shops which are located all over the nation.”
Speaking further, he said, “Though a retailer cannot give guarantee on a product but good customer service requires a retailer to offer the customer the opportunity of taking the product on his behalf to the manufacturer’s service centre or nicely directing the customer to the manufacturer’s service centre.
“In the case of Tobison Oluso, the product was not even damaged; he just needed more assurance and explanations. The retailer could have made the customer satisfied by offering more reassurance by telling him that if anything happens to the product within the specified guaranteed period that he should bring the product back so he will assist him to take it to the service centre,” explained the LG staff.
Both the Standards Organisation of Nigeria [SON] and the Consumer Protection Council [CPC] of Nigeria have repeatedly and on different occasions condemned the idea of business men printing ‘goods sold in good condition are not returnable, exchanged or money refunded’ on receipts.
The two government regulatory agencies had promised to get businessmen to stop the ugly development, but so far nothing concrete has been done.
The former Director General, (CPC), Mrs. Dupe Atoki, had accused retailers of short-changing consumers and abuse of consumer rights with ouster clauses such as ‘no refund of money after payment’ and ‘goods received in good condition cannot be returned’ on their receipts, while the then DG, Standards of Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Dr. Paul Angya, wondered if the statement was in anticipation of a product failure.
Both DGs made the allegations in Sheraton Lagos at the interactive forum of CPC with stakeholders on enforcement of warranty and guarantee on products and services.
Atoki, while addressing key industry operators in automobile, electrical/electronics, heavy duty equipment, on-line markets and superstores subsectors of the nation’s economy, regretted that Nigeria was the only country where such clauses are printed on receipts.
“The situation in Nigeria is a sharp contrast as traders boldly print on purchase receipts terms like ‘no refund of money after payment’ and ‘goods received in good condition cannot be returned’. It is unacceptable that a producer, distributor or trader will attempt to completely vitiate the right of the consumer to redress by caveats of this nature.”
Describing the situation as intolerable, Atoki said that manufacturers and retailers will be given a time frame to remove the statements from their receipts, warning that at the expiration of the time frame, the agency will come hard on those who refuse to comply.
She warned that “the statement should not be a blanket statement, it should be subjective. Take each situation and analyse it fundamentally,” adding that on face value, the product may look okay while it may have manufacturer’s defect which can only be detected when the buyer puts it to use.