Consumers affected by delay in goods delivery

June 15, 2018

When consumers purchase goods from traders or engage service providers, they do so because they have a need for that product or service.

This becomes the basis on which consumers initiate their purchases.For farmers, timing is everything. They toil the land and plant and harvest produce according to seasons and most t farmers buy goods that will complement their work.

Traders are counted on to provide or deliver these goods in a timely manner to ensure a fruitful harvest.Unfortunately, this was not the case for Danny, who had purchased Urea manure from a trader and had to wait for 4 months for it to be delivered.

In September, 2017, Danny ordered two 50kg bags of the fertilizer through a government grant. He was informed by the trader that the delivery would be made once the stock was available.

Being a responsible consumer, Danny kept going back to the trader to check if the supply was available as his plantation of about 3000 dalo plants was in need of the manure.

After 4 months of waiting, Danny was told the stock was still not available. However, when Danny visited the store he noticed that 20kg bags of Urea manure was available and being sold by the trader.Danny then requested if he could be given five 20kg bags of the fertilizer instead of waiting for the rest of the stock to arrive.

Unfortunately, Danny was denied this request by the trader.Frustrated with the delay in delivery, Danny then lodged a complaint with the Consumer Council of Fiji.

The trader was in informed it was in breach of Part 7, Section 88 of the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission Act 2010 for accepting payment without being able to supply as ordered.During intervention, the Council was assured by the trader that the manure would be delivered as soon as stocks arrived and they will continuously update Danny on the arrival of the shipment.

Danny was finally provided with the two bags of 50kg manure in January 2018.In cases similar to Danny’s – where fertiliser is needed for crops – delays in delivery cause not only a waste of valuable time but potentially a huge monetary loss.

Delivering a purchased good within the specified timeframe or within a reasonable period is a basic responsibility of traders.

These delays in the delivery of goods shows a lack of logistical planning and accountability on the part of traders.While the council acknowledges that some delays are out of the traders’ control, there remain instances where the delays could have been avoided or resolved much faster for consumer satisfaction.

At the very least, traders should not accept money for goods when they cannot guarantee a delivery period.An alternative would be to inform consumers to pay when the product they are after is available thereby saving time and money for the consumer and ensuring their business reputation is maintained and the consumer is satisfied.

Danny’s frustration dealing with the untimely delivery of goods is not an isolated case. Since 2016, the Council has received 177 complaints worth $161,759 regarding the issue.

Based on the complaints, products being out of stock or the wrong products being delivered were two major areas of concern highlighted by consumers.Further to this, there are many consumers who shop online and face similar situation when goods ordered are not delivered on time.

One such consumer was Jenny, who purchased clothes via social networking site Facebook. Jenny paid $3144 for the order and she was anxiously waiting for the delivery based on the date specified by the trader.

When she did not receive the package, Jenny lodged a complaint with the Council.

Unfortunately, the trader provided a refund that was less than half the amount she paid. This case was referred to the Small Claims Tribunal.The Council calls on traders to be fair and ethical when dealing with consumers.

Consumers spend their heard-earned money on goods and services and expect quality products and services provided in a timely fashion.Consumers facing similar issues can call the Council’s toll free helpline on 155.

Please be advised that the Consumer Council of Fiji will be moving to its new office at Level 5, Vanua House, Victoria Parade, Suva, from 28 May.