A suite deal: Wendy on warranties

A suite deal: Wendy on warranties

A defective lounge suite and a couple who tried to get justice for more than a year, only getting it when I took up their case with head office.


This simply should not be happening four years after the CPA came into effect. 

Jerusha Ramchunder bought a R5000 Gomma Gomma lounge suite from Russells in Amanzimtoti last August, Russells being one of the many furniture brands owned by the JD Group.

By November she’d spotted a few defects, and when she reported this to the store, they advised her to wait until the New Year, as the suppliers would be closing for the festive season break.

So here’s my first piece of advice: the first six months after purchase are golden when it comes to the warranty, because it’s the Consumer Protection Act warranty which all goods automatically get.

As I’ve been saying over and over for four and half years now, if something you’ve bought becomes defective in some way within six months, you have the right to return it for YOUR choice of a refund, replacement or repair - no matter what a company tries to tell you about their internal policies or what their suppliers will or won’t do.

So don’t waste those six months by putting off lodging your complaint, allow yourself to be fobbed off by a motor dealership’s reassurances, for example, that you just need to let your new car “run in a bit” and the problem will go away.

All that will happen is your precious CPA warranty will be fast running out.

When those six months are up, the supplier’s warranty takes over, and it’s far inferior to the CPA one - they almost always insist on a repairing rather than replacing or refunding.

That’s because it costs them the least, of course, and they don’t end up with second-hand goods.

Even with the six-month CPA warranty period, many retailers will respond to a customer’s defect complaint by saying: “No problem, we’ll have it repaired for you!”

And if the consumer doesn’t know they have the right to choose something else - a refund or replacement - they’ll go along with it.

Jerusha's lodges a complaint

So getting back to Jerusha’s case, she took the advice of the Russells store in ‘Toti and lodged a complaint about her defective lounge suite only in January, by which time it was five months old, but still within its CPA warranty.

But it was many weeks before the suite was uplifted by Russells for inspection, she says.

(By the way companies may insist on having a product technically assessed to rule out user abuse being the cause of the problem rather than a manufacturing defect.)

The suite was found to be defective, Jerusha says, and her request was for a replacement suite, but a repair was carried out instead.

When the suite was returned, she says, it was in a worse condition than when it left.

“There were staples visible all over, a few of which actually hurt my mum whilst cleaning,” she said. 

When she complained, Russells agreed to replace the suite. 

Then things got a bit complicated. The replacement suite also had protruding staples and it was agreed a second replacement would be forthcoming.  That was two to three months ago, Jerusha said.

Last month she decided she wanted a refund rather than a replacement - something she was entitled to from the moment the defect was confirmed, given that the suite was less than six months old at the time.

But last week she was informed that “the lady at head office" said the suite would be replaced again.

At that point Jerusha contacted me for advice.

“This has been an ongoing battle with almost no feedback, or follow ups,” she said.  "90% of the calls made between Russells and the suppliers, were made by myself. 

“Can they actually not provide the refund, given that this defect and problems were initially reported 11 months ago and then formally reported nine months ago?”

Based on what Jerusha had told me, my answer was no - she was indeed entitled to a refund. 

So I took up her case with Russells’ chief executive Pat Kimmince, who got back me to say that despite there being some counter claims by his team, as to what went wrong with the suite, he’d taken the decision to refund Jerusha. 

So good for them, but some lessons to be learnt, I venture to suggest, from this year’s saga, on both sides.


1.If something breaks, report it immediately, in some recordable way, not just in person or on the phone, because timing is everything with the CPA. You have six months to use that golden repair/replace/refund warranty.

2. Know that in those first six months you don’t have to accept a repair - you can insist on a replacement or refund.

3. If you do accept a repair, and it breaks again within three months, in any way, the company can’t repair it again - you then get to choose between a refund and a replacement. 

Here is part of the lounge suite.

A suite deal: Wendy on warranties

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