In this week's Consumerwatch, Wendy Knowler looks at the demise of two iconic South African brands and tries to find out
how their customers will be affected.
In this week's Consumerwatch, Wendy Knowler looks at the demise of two iconic South African brands and tries to find out how their customers will be affected.
GREYHOUND & CITILINER
Greyhound and Citliner’s financial woes weren’t caused by COVID-19, but clearly the pandemic didn’t help.
“Declining passenger numbers and poor regulatory compliance in the bus passenger industry has resulted in both our brands - Greyhound and Citiliner - incurring significant losses for several years,” said Unitrans Passenger in a media statement about those two coach brands coming to a permanent stop from February 15.
The impact of Covid-19 regulations limiting inter-provincial travel and coach occupancy levels, and the closure of the Zimbabwe and Mozambique borders have exacerbated the situation.
- Unitrans Passenger
The company was unable to turn a profit despite reducing operating costs, optimising routes, and introducing new technology to its coaches. It also failed to sell the two coach brands, Unitrans Passenger said.
“The company values its loyal customer base and regrets the discontinuation of services [after 37 years]. All tickets bought for services after February 15 will be fully refunded and information regarding that process will be communicated through social media platforms and the Greyhound call centre - 011 611 8000. Affected ticketholders are also invited to email [email protected]."
I asked the company when the last bookings for trips after February 14 were accepted and how long affected passengers would have to wait for refunds, but sadly didn’t get a response.
The Clicks group announced this week that Musica
will stop trading at the end of May.
It’s very sad, because it was such an iconic brand for so many years, and those of us of a certain age will have memories of many hours browsing the latest CDs in one of their stores, but when last did you buy something at Musica? Well, exactly. That’s not how we buy our music anymore.
Several people have asked me questions about Musica gift vouchers, what will happen to the warranties on products which will be valid after the end of May, and whether the Clicks group would consider converting Musica vouchers to Clicks Clubcard points.
Musica will honour all gift cards and warranties at Musica stores while they are still trading. It's still too early to advise re redemption of gift cards and validity of warranties once they stop trading on 31 May, but they are working on a solution. As soon as I have more info, I will let you know.
- Clicks’s external media liaison person
The CPA warranty of six months from the date of purchase will still be valid by the end
of May in many cases, and what’s supposed to happen is the retailer takes
responsibility for any defective goods during those six months, but I’m
guessing the advice will be to approach the respective suppliers directly.
The Hilton Durban Hotel closed its doors last month, another COVID-19 casualty, and one of 1000 Hilton hotels to close since the start of the pandemic.
Jan Van Der Putten, who is Hilton’s Vice President Operations - Africa and the Indian Ocean, told me that it’s a temporary closure and that the hotel will re-open, but that doesn’t help those who’ve made bookings for events in the meantime.
People like Tracy, who booked a Hilton Durban function room for her February 13 wedding for 80 guests, and paid the hotel R28,690.
I was made aware of this and told that a refund would be issued to me, and submitted all the documents as requested by the Hotel however, there has been no update since - their phone line is dead and no one responds to my emails. I need to plan for another venue but can't, given the circumstances. I really don't know where else to turn to. Please help me.
My media query landed up in Van Der Putten’s inbox and he immediately undertook to make a plan for Tracy - either to host her wedding at the Hilton Garden Inn in Umhlanga or give her a full refund.
When I spoke to Tracy yesterday, she was tending towards the alternative hotel option.
Good to know! I wish all my wedding-related complaints were resolved that quickly and amicably! I get that wedding service providers are in a world of pain, but so are their customers.
Bottom line - if a venue or caterer or anyone else is unable to provide the service on the agreed date - because of a government restriction or any other reason - that doesn’t involve the couple choosing not to go ahead, they are legally entitled to a refund.
That money they took from the client was for the provision of a specific service and they don’t get to put that money into your bank account, spend it on other things, and then say "sorry, no refunds".
If the couple agrees to a postponement that’s fine, but they can't force them to have a tiny wedding mid-week in the off-season.
Sadly there’s a lot of that happening in the industry.
Hats off to those wedding suppliers who refunded their clients or bent over backward to make sure they don’t lose out.
Please email [email protected]
Main image courtesy of @RealMrumaDrive/Twitter
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