Evetech accused of breaking the Consumer Protection Act

South African technology classifieds forum Carbonite recently announced that it had banned PC hardware retailer Evetech from having any dealings on its website.

The owner of Carbonite made the announcement on Sunday 26 July and cited the retailer’s “blatant disregard for decency with regards to their warranties” as the reason behind the decision.

When asked what Evetech had been doing to warrant the ban, the owner pointed to a recent thread on the website which detailed a warranty dispute as “the latest in a long list of issues” on the topic.

In the example provided, a Carbonite user said they purchased a power supply unit (PSU) from Evetech which stopped working after two months.

Offering insufficient compensation for warranties

After returning the product, and Evetech confirming that the issue fell under the product’s warranty, the customer was informed that the original PSU was out of stock.

The customer was offered R900 Evetech store credit, despite the PSU being worth R1,399 on Evetech’s website.

According to the customer, Evetech cited “depreciation and use of the PSU” as the reason for the offered credit being of a significantly lower value than the price paid for the PSU by the customer.

After complaining about the situation, the customer was told that they could take the R900 credit or exchange it for a different PSU that was priced at R100 less than the original product.

The customer refused these offers and complained that Evetech was not abiding by the Consumer Protection Act. After receiving no further response, the customer called Evetech support.

Eventually, the customer was offered a different PSU which was of a higher value than the original one purchased.

“Don’t get me wrong, even though that this sounds positive, I’m still left very confused/frustrated that it had to get to this point,” said the customer.

A history of similar complaints

Perusing Evetech’s HelloPeter page offers many other complaints from customers accusing the retailer of similar irregular warranty redemption practices.

“Item sent in in January for a warranty claim, no feedback from them. Have to continually chase up. Finally get a reply: The only thing we can give your client is in store credit to purchase something else , and that’s not even going to be full price as depreciation value will apply. For an item that has been sitting with them for half a year, get a depreciated credit!” said one user.

“They didn’t want to refund me full paid price on a faulty returned motherboard. They offered about half of what was paid . Reasons given was ridiculous,” said another.

“Purchased a computer in 2018, some parts under guarantee for 3 years. Just before lockdown had problem with CPU, took it in. They sent it to supplier but could not be checked before lockdown. I then purchased another CPU as was told they would exchange when back from suppler. I paid R5,000 for original and R3000 for the new one. I now get a R1,500 voucher back which is not acceptable,” said a third user.

Other complaints

This is not the only complaint commonly levied against the company – others include poor customer service response times, and products incorrectly being listed as in-stock.

Examples of complaints regarding these issues are below.

“I ordered a headset on the 13th of May. The headset arrived broken two weeks later. I then requested a replacement product…which they didn’t provide. I then requested a refund which I am still waiting for……15 days of waiting and still no refund.”

“These people had the information wrong about one of their products, misleading me into believing they had the part and did not even look to see if they physically had it in stock. [They] invoiced me for an item they never even had, so they had sent me a different item than what was on my invoice and just told me to keep it and said it was compatible. So I tried to see if it would work, it did not, I call them and say it doesn’t work and I want a refund. I sent it back and now they claim I broke it and will not give me my refund,” said a user.

What the Consumer Protection Act says

The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) imposes an automatic warranty which all goods must comply with.

Section 55 of the CPA dictates that goods:

  • Are reasonably suitable for the purposes for which they are generally intended.
  • Are of good quality, in good working order and free of any defects.
  • will be useable and durable for a reasonable period of time, having regard to the use to which they would normally be put and to all the surrounding circumstances of their supply.

Section 56 states that within six months after the delivery of any goods to a consumer, the consumer may return the goods to the supplier, without penalty and at the supplier’s risk and expense, if the goods fail to satisfy the requirements and standards contemplated in section 55, and the supplier must, at the direction of the consumer, either:

  • Repair and replace the failed, unsafe or defective goods, or
  • Refund to the consumer the price paid by the consumer for the goods.

Section 57 also highlights that this imposed warranty is in addition to any other implied or express warranty or condition stipulated by law or by the retailer.

Additionally, the Consumer Goods and Services Ombud (CGSO) states that the supplier cannot force a consumer to have goods repaired if they would prefer a refund or a replacement.

Update – Evetech responds

Evetech told MyBroadband that it must be noted that the components in a bundle, PC build, or upgrade kit are reduced to make the bundle more affordable.

This means that a customer purchasing an item individually pays the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), while those purchasing upgrade kits or custom desktop build orders pay less than the MSRP for these same components

“Items found faulty in a kit or a build will, therefore, be credited based on their price in the kit or build, not as an individual component,” said Evetech.

It also noted that stock availability, replacements, or swap-outs are a consideration when determining what can be offered as a replacement.

Evetech’s full statement can be read below.

We would never undervalue our customers, in any circumstance. In most cases, there is a single item that becomes faulty and would need to be tested and replaced. However, in these cases, the single item comes from a bundle, a PC build or upgrade kit. We ensure to reduce the prices on all these bundles to make them more affordable. Item purchased individually are based on MSRP whilst items in upgrade kits and custom desktop build orders are not, this results in single components being more expensive than items in kits or builds and therefore credit passed in a kit or a build will not be of the same value as if the item was purchased individually. Items found faulty in a kit or a build will, therefore, be credited based on their price in the kit or build, not as an individual component. Stock availability for swap-outs or replacements can also have an impact on this and are dependent on what is offered by the manufacturer as a replacement.

[Incorrect in-stock listings] come down to two things: Supply chain issues and delays in order processing.

The biggest contributor to these issues with stock availability is the expected ETA on stock continuously having to be pushed back due to delays, sometimes moving stock ETA back with weeks if not months. Combining that with delays in order processing due to reduced staff levels during lockdown resulted in orders being processed as “in-stock”; however, the existing stock was yet to be allocated to orders placed prior. The system works with a “first-in, first-out” system. If the system has processed a payment that was made for the same item a minute earlier, unfortunately, that person will then receive the item. Evetech takes orders online and via email; this is why we have the first-in, first-out policy after payment has been made.

When issues occur where stock is unavailable we will always offer either a replacement for similar specs or offer you a refund on the product and in most instances we offer a replacement with a better spec product if we have the stock available. Should the only available replacement be significantly more expensive we will offer it at a reduced price in order to compensate for the inconvenience.

Admittedly there was a significantly large delay in items going out to our customers. We have taken steps to keep customers informed of the delays and to make sure they were informed before placing an order that there are delays in delivery. We reached out on all our social media platforms regarding the delays, posted the official letter that was sent to us by Aramex and also placed notification banners as well as an FAQ page with the lead times and additional information on the front page of the Evetech website.

There was also a complete operational halt at the two main depots for our courier service, Aramex, which resulted in even more delays due to their backlog that had to be resolved after operations resumed at the depots. By the time that Aramex reopened, their depot was full with deliveries that needed to go out whilst working with a very limited staff base. Initially, there was a predicted 5-6 day delay for Aramex to catch up, however, the full extent of the backlog was more serious than initially predicted and resulted in delays of up to two weeks for deliveries to take place.

In terms of the customer service complaints, we have done our absolute best to ensure that we answer every email as fast as we possibly can with the limited staff that we had due to lockdown restrictions.

Since our phone lines have been active after the initial lockdown, we have been averaging 1,000+ calls received per day to our sales department with a missed call ratio of less than 10%. We do not have a call centre and have to manage all the calls internally. Emails to our sales team were averaging 3,000+ per day. That sudden influx and not being able to hire and train new staff to assist the existing sales team because of the lockdown restrictions, resulted in extensive delays.

In terms of support, it is a similar issue to that of the sales team. A limited amount of staff dealing with a monumental amount of emails and queries daily.

Majority of delays have however been resolved and orders have been dispatching at the normal lead times for some time now. Any delays that arise are resolved as quickly and with as little inconvenience to our customers as possible.

We are fully invested in improving all the systems here at Evetech so we can ensure a more fluid process from ordering to delivery and support. We appreciate our community and we want to make sure that we can make every section of Evetech as easy and seamless as possible for the best experience.

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Evetech accused of breaking the Consumer Protection Act