The influx of consumer complaints relating to the sale and repair of pre-owned vehicles received by the Consumer Protection Office is said to be a cause for concern. This was said by Commercial officer Obed Rankwe at the workshop between the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) officials and Motor Industry dealers on Thursday. Rankwe said statistics have shown that consumer complaints relating to sale and repair of pre-owned vehicles are among those that are in the lead. According to Rankwe in 2015/16 financial year their office received a total of 1571 consumer complaints and 272 of these were cases from the motor industry. According to statistics this constitutes 17% of the total complaints. “This might seem to be a small number, but taking into consideration the cost to an ordinary consumer, the problem is magnified to levels beyond comprehension,” said Rankwe.
It has emerged that while the complaints are increasing motor dealers continue to be uncooperative with officials making it difficult to address them. Rankwe went on to explain that the workshop was held so that motor dealers and consumer protection officials can come together and addresses how the issues can best be resolved. The consumer affairs officials gave a strong caution to the dealers to start being cooperative. Commercial Officer, Ikanyeng Gaeromelwe urged the dealers to always respond to summons to their office and send people who have decision making power to avoid delays. Most of the complaints received are for unfair business practices that leave consumers disadvantaged. Gaeromelwe said some of these include failure to disclose information to consumers, lack of displaying prices on the commodity sold and taking long to repair and refund. She also revealed that at times the dealers chose not to respond to inquiries from their office and also dishonour summons.
Business Botswana’s Julius Kamodi urged the motor dealers to start addressing issues effectively to avoid them reaching the consumer office. Kamodi said consumers are always right and they have to be treated as such. “The complaints that I hear of should have not even reached this office; they should have been resolved at your workplaces,” Kamodi told the motor dealers. Botswana Used Motor Vehicle Dealers Association chairman Arshad Niyaz said his newly registered association is working to bring together motor dealers and address the issues that are raised. Niyaz, however, called on the consumer protection office to educate Batswana on buying so that they know their responsibility. He said they formed the association to make sure that they improve their service across all the motor dealers.
On the way forward an officer in the Consumer Protection Office Tshepo Ntlhe said to avoid increasing complaints businesses need to set a systemic complaint management system to address consumer queries and complaints on time. Ntlhe said dealers have to hire qualified mechanics for proper and satisfactory repairs of the vehicles to avoid unnecessary complaints.