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The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) is often inundated with calls and visits from people complaining about the reluctance by retailers to compensate or replace faulty goods, lack of guarantees among other problems.
A consumers’ option, if one has a problem with goods will depend on:

  • When the item was bought (time).
  • Whether or not your rights under consumer protection laws have been breached
  • Who you bought them from
  • What outcome you want.
  • If the agreement you made with the trader has been broken, a consumer is entitled to have matters put right. It is the person who sold you the goods who is responsible for sorting your problem out, and not the manufacturer.
  • If your rights under consumer protection laws (in Zimbabwe, it is the Consumer Contracts Act of 1994, or the Small Claims Court which are specific to matters we are talking about) have been reached, you have the option to seek redress and get compensation. 
  • You may be able to reject the goods and get a refund and/or compensation. You may also be able to ask the trader to replace the goods or repair them. If the trader is not able to replace or repair the goods, you may be able to get a reduction in the price you paid, or end the contract you made when you bought the goods. 
When you buy goods, they must be: -
  • Of satisfactory quality. This means that the good must be free from faults, including minor ones
  • Accurately described
  •  Fit for their purpose
  • You may only have a legal right to reject your goods and claim a full refund, if they do not meet one or more of these requirements. There are some types of sale to which these legal rights do not apply. For example, if you bought the goods from an individual, you only have a legal right to get your money back if the seller described them wrongly. You are allowed a short time to examine goods and try them out, but you must tell the trader about the fault as soon as you discover it.

You will not be able to get a full refund if you have: -

  • Continued to use the goods
  • Tried to repair the goods in any way
  • Kept the goods for too long without telling the trader you want to reject them.
  • Even if you are not entitled to a full refund, you may still be able to get compensation
Compensation when you cannot get a full refund on goods
    • You may not get a full refund, even if you have all your legal rights. For example, if you have used the goods for some time before they show signs of being faulty, the trader may offer you some money as compensation, instead of a full refund. The trader may suggest a practical solution that you would prefer to accept, for example, making a claim under a guarantee, but you would still be entitled to ask for financial compensation.

When the trader refuses a refund on goods

  • The trader may refuse to refund you, even if you have the legal right to ask for your money back. They may offer you alternatives such as a repair or an exchange. Some traders refer you to the manufacturer or say that you should claim on the guarantee. However, you do not have to accept this. If you want a refund but the trader does not offer one, you can go to court or use an alternative dispute resolution e.g. come to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe to enforce your rights.
Repair or replacement of goods
    • A trader, who agrees to carry out a repair or provide a replacement, must do so within a reasonable period of time, and without causing you any significant inconvenience. If you ask the trader for a repair but this turns out to be impractical or to be too expensive, the trader will not be obliged to repair your goods, but you can choose to have a replacement instead. In the same way, if you have asked the trader to replace your goods and this turns out to be impractical or too expensive, the trader will not be obliged to replace your goods, but you can choose to have a repair instead. If neither repair nor replacement is practical, you can choose to get a reduction in price or a full refund.
    • Consumers should also buy only from reputable shops because they offer back up services or compensation mechanisms. If you encounter any problems invoke the law or visit the nearest CCZ offices.
    • AVOID buying from shops that have disclaimers clauses like NO RETURNS NO GUARANTEES.
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