May 3, 2017
The high costs associated with timber is no secret given that it is an essential product for the construction of houses and buildings. It is imperative for consumers to practice vigilance and pay attention to details prior to confirming their order and also taking the delivery of the timber products.
The Consumer Council of Fiji has recently been receiving complaints from aggrieved consumers who did not receive timber products according to their specifications. In particular, consumers were concerned with the fact that despite placing orders for custom sizes they were being delivered timber of varying sizes.
In one peculiar case at hand, Raju who is in the process of building a single story flat in the central division, ordered 33 pieces of 16ft (4.8m) 4” x 2” timbers from a reputable hardware company.
While placing his order the salesperson informed Raju that the timber will be delivered within two days according to the specifications.
After two days when the order was dropped off at his construction site, Raju was handed over 25 pieces of timber of varying lengths (running feet). Shocked to see the quantity, he quickly enquired on why it was 25 pieces instead of his initial order of 33. The company personnel reassured him that some of the timber pieces were longer than others, hence, when added the total length of the timber meets his requirement.
Raju blindly gave into the explanation and failed to measure the timber lengths to ensure the explanation relayed to him was factual. Not suspecting any issues, he signed off the delivery docket.
However, the problem ensued when the timbers were actually put to use by his contractor as it was insufficient to complete the work according to the timber order placed. The contractor advised Raju that the timber delivered were not sufficient which in fact indicated that it did not add up to his required timber sizes.
A frustrated Raju contacted the company asking for a legitimate response and action on the matter. Unfortunately, he was informed that his signature was on the delivery docket which proves that the goods were accepted according to the order placed.
Feeling deceived, Raju brought his case to the Council’s attention.
The grievance raised by him and other consumers on related timber matters prompted the Council to conduct a minor research with five (5) major timber traders in the Suva area to establish the cause of the problems.
From the findings it was deduced that all the companies sell timber in running feet and only one company sells timber according to customers’ specified measurements.
In other words, if consumers do not cross check the timbers delivered against their specified requirements, they may get short changed. Consumers should not blindly believe that the timbers delivered in running feet will match their requirements, rather, they should make efforts to measure the items if needed upon delivery. This will ensure their money’s worth.Consumers need to exercise their line of responsibility because the Sale of Goods Act 1985, section 31 (1) outlines that if sellers deliver to the buyer a quantity of goods less than he contracted to sell, the buyer may reject them, however, it further states that if the buyer accepts the goods so delivered, he must pay for them at the contract rate.
During delivery of the items, if consumers are not satisfied with the order then they should not accept the items by signing the delivery docket. Sometimes consumers are pressured by the delivery staff and also assured by them that the issues will be sorted by their boss and in the interim if consumers can accept the items. Consumers MUST not receive the items on this assurance.
If under strange circumstances you decide to accept the items then you must write accepting goods under dispute before signing the docket.
After payment when consumers contest the supplied items, the process may become cumbersome and costly.
Hence, the Council is calling on consumers to be vigilant when accepting goods from the sellers be it for any product(s). If they have doubts with the supplied quantity they should verify their uncertainties properly to their satisfaction prior to accepting the delivery. This will ensure that consumers are not duped as was in the case of Raju.