What if your warranty expires during lockdown?

What if your warranty expires during lockdown?

Expiring warranties travel cancellation compensation and the dangers of home brewing - Wendy Knowler gives the lowdown on the latest lockdown consumer news.


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What if your warranty expires during a lockdown? If the warranty on your laptop, washing machine or fridge expires during the six-week lockdown, will the supplier be obliged to honour it when it’s business as usual?

Technically no, but Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman (CGSO) Magauta Mphaphlele is urging suppliers to “take a humane and reasonable approach”.

The same applies to loyalty vouchers which expire during the lockdown, she said.

“The companies and brands that emerge intact from this pandemic will be those that put their customers first.”

 Latest on travel and other cancellations

The unprecedented nature of the pandemic has thrown cancellations and the associated rights and responsibilities of suppliers and consumers into the spotlight, says Consumer Goods and Services Ombud Magauta Mphahlele.

“While we understand that none of the parties is at fault, we are acutely aware of the impact of mass cancellations on the cashflow of suppliers. We, therefore, appeal to all parties to act reasonably, and where possible, for consumers to accept vouchers or postponements. Where this is not possible, the consumer is entitled to a full refund.”

If a consumer accepts a voucher in place of a full refund, it must be valid for at least three years, and there is nothing in the CPA which allows for a price increase at the time of redemption.

“We would need to look at the terms and conditions the consumer signed and then test them against the CPA’s Section 48, which speaks to unfair, unreasonable or unjust contract terms,” she said.

In reality, most airlines, local and international, are refusing to refund customers despite their flights being cancelled due to COVID-19.
They are only offering vouchers. And most are making those vouchers valid for just a year.

This week, Emirates Airline has released an updated “re-accommodation” policy offering ticket-holders affected by Covid-19 travel bans three options, including a refund. The airline had previously only been prepared to offer postponements or vouchers.

The new options are:

1. Keep the ticket: All Emirates tickets booked before May 31 for travel up to August 31 will be automatically extended for 760 days. Customers holding such tickets can rebook when they decide to travel again. Their ticket will be accepted for any flight to the same Emirates destination or to another city within the same Emirates region with no fees for changes.

2. Get a travel voucher: Travel vouchers are valid for one year from date of issue and can be extended for a second year. Customers can use for any Emirates product or service, including to offset charges for flights to any destination in any cabin class, or other services.

3. Refund: Those who have decided to keep their ticket or the travel voucher can also apply for a full refund, if they are unable to travel. "We would just like to seek our customers’ understanding that refunds will take time as we have a significant backlog to manage,” said Emirates’ chief commercial officer Adnan Kazim.

Mphahlele invited both companies and consumers affected by travel-related cancellations to contact the CGSO via its online channels.

Brewing your own booze

The president is still mulling over the call to release the ban on selling alcohol – but in the meantime loads of people are busy trying to make their own.

I received an email from a professional brewer based in Cape Town: 

"Many people are trying to brew or distil their own tipple. I shudder at the thought!

"I am lucky enough to work in the industry and know what I am doing, but I feel sorry for those who are at best only going to get massive hangovers from disappointing drinks, and at worst end up in the hospital or burn their houses down.”

A sobering thought!

I asked him to explain the dangers but he hasn’t got back to me, so I asked Dr Stefan Hayward, a research fellow at Stellenbosch University’s food science the department, now famous for the hand sanitiser made from bread scraps the project, to help us out.

"Homebrewing is not that difficult, provided you have the correct equipment/apparatus and you know what you are doing.
No human pathogens can survive in beer, but wild yeasts and fungi can contaminate beer and wreck the beer. So, good hygiene is important.

"Temperature control is also very important and critical for the yeast you’re using. Using the wrong temperature can lead to unwanted flavour production.
"Methanol in beer is not a big problem, as the levels are usually very low but higher levels of methanol are produced in fermented fruit products (listen up, pineapple brewers!)  and as with ethanol and other compounds are concentrated during distillation. 

"Methanol and other higher alcohols have lower boiling points than ethanol and are usually in the first bit of distillate, which is discarded. High levels of methanol can lead to blindness and when larger amounts are ingested, death.
"Finally, if someone is going to distil alcohol from a fermented mixture, it is important to have the correct apparatus and ensure there is good ventilation. Alcohol vapours can accumulate, which could be an explosion risk.”

READ: What if your Valentine's Day flowers are delivered late?

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Get in touch with Wendy via her website or her Facebook page. Please note that Wendy is not able to personally respond to every email she receives. If she is able to take up your case, she will contact you directly. Here are other avenues for you to consider.

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