The Consumer Goods and Services Ombud (CGSO) has warned consumers to exercise caution when transacting with PC Link Computers following a substantial increase in consumer complaints.
The company’s websites — pclinkshop.co.za and pclinkshop.com — have also disappeared.
Over the period from 1 April 2021 to 29 April 2022, the online PC hardware and accessories retailer has racked up 215 consumer complaints at the ombud.
According to the ombudsman, there are currently 134 open cases against PC Link Computers.
“Due to the non-cooperation by PC Link in resolving complaints referred to them, the CGSO has been forced to terminate these cases and report them to the National Consumer Commission for possible investigation and enforcement.”
It added that, despite the actions taken by the CGSO, aggrieved consumers are still required to lodge their complaints with the National Consumer Commission (NCC).
The CGSO said it is clear that PC Link is employing bait marketing where it advertises goods as being available, with no intention to deliver the goods ordered.
“When the CGSO office started dealing with the complaints against this supplier, they responded directly to the complainants, providing them with refunds and delivering the outstanding goods,” it said.
“However, for unknown reasons, PC Link has since stopped cooperating with our office on the open cases, hence the issuing of the warning.”
Ombud of the Consumer Goods and Services sector, Maguata Mphahlele, said that PC Link is potentially in contravention of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA)
“Taking money from consumers and then failing to deliver the goods and services on the agreed date and time is a possible contravention of sections 19 and 41 of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), and the CGSO cannot stand by and allow rogue online suppliers to steal the hard-earned monies of consumers,” she said.
Section 19 of the CPA states that suppliers are responsible for delivering goods or services on the agreed date and agreed time or otherwise within a reasonable time after concluding a transaction or agreement.
MyBroadband spoke to a PC Link representative last year after several people wrote in to complain that the company had taken their money and not delivered their goods.
Customers also complained that they were promised refunds that hadn’t materialised.
A representative told us at the time that the complaints against them mainly stem from customers who don’t realise there was a difference between PC Link’s .co.za and .com shops.
The .co.za store offered locally sourced items that distributors have indicated were available at their South African warehouses.
On the other hand, PC Link’s .com site offered importing services that were affected by global supply chain disruptions.
“Unfortunately, I have come across a large amount of clients that place an order from the import website but email me with the local websites turnaround time,” the representative for pclinkshop.co.za told MyBroadband.
They said PC Link had been around for more than 10 years and that accredited payment gateways would not do business with a company that is not legitimate.
In the cases MyBroadband investigated, PC Link eventually issued refunds — albeit much later than they promised.
MyBroadband contacted PC Link Computers regarding the ombudsman’s notice and its websites going offline, but it had not responded by publication time.