Vanity and greed – two human conditions that see many a consumer part ways with their money.
Tell people that they’ve won a pile of money, or that there’s a miracle potion or pill that will magically make their fat or wrinkles disappear, and you can be sure that enough of them will fall for it to make you very rich indeed.
In April, Consumer Watch reported that while for years toilet paper manufacturers have been required by law to ensure that one-ply toilet rolls have at least 500 sheets, and two-ply rolls 350 sheets, this regulation was amended in March.
Now manufacturers can also produce rolls with fewer sheets. One-ply rolls can either be 500 sheets or just 300 sheets, and two-ply rolls either 350 sheets or just 200 sheets.
Reader Craig Matthew posed an interesting question to Consumer Watch recently.
Are bottle stores obliged to refund consumers on the 90c deposit paid on quart beer bottles when they are returned?
It seems to me that a lot of people are being hounded to pay debts they don’t owe, for all sorts of reasons.
In some cases, they have been handed over to debt collection agencies despite having settled their accounts, others have been the victim of identity fraud, and had huge debts run up in their name, and some have fallen victim to a fraudster working at a company they’ve contracted with.
Two recent reports have thrown “herbal” or supposedly natural products into the spotlight – the “100 percent natural” Coca Tea, which was found to be laced with cocaine, and the Skintocare capsules for the treatment of acne, which were found to contain lead and poisoned at least seven people in KwaZulu-Natal.
So how do you keep those gimmicks from creeping into the sales talk? And how do you get what you've been promised?
Here’s a consumer tip that will save you a lot of money, and hassle: get into the habit of making sure your interactions with companies are well-documented.
It’s been almost 18 months since the Consumer Protection Act came into effect, and certain key protections remain open to interpretation. The issue that crops up in my inbox almost daily concerns the expiry of prepaid vouchers for cellular services.
Well, what do you know: the supermarket group catering for this country’s poorest has been charging its customers a relatively exorbitant price for plastic carrier bags – far more than all the other major supermarket groups, including Woolworths.
Remember, if you pay for any goods or services with your credit card, if you do not receive them, either in full or in part, you can apply to the bank that issued your credit card for “chargeback”.
Essentially, your payment is reversed if your application is successful.
So, if you make an internet purchase with your credit card and the item doesn’t arrive, it’s not what you ordered or it’s defective, and the seller won’t refund you, you can apply to your bank for chargeback.
The same applies to any purchase made with your credit card.
I’m indebted to yet another sharp-eyed reader for this story. She wants to be identified only as Jenny, and she made a startling discovery when she looked at the nutritional table of a pack of Woolworths Slimmer’s Choice Danish-style feta recently, a product she’s bought for some time.
Whereas a serving’s kilojoule count of 90 is very prominently displayed on the top and sides of the pack, the count in the small print table is 121kJ – which is significantly more in a product marketed at weight watchers.