I am a very happy person today! Earlier today, I received the good news that I “won a case” against a Safari Lodge. Well, I guess you can’t really call it “winning a case” since it never went to court. It only went to the consumer complaints commission, nevertheless it shows how far South Africa has come.. Here’s a bit of background to the story:
About 16 months ago, South Africa introduced the Consumer Protection Act. One of the most advanced consumer protections acts in the world, if not THE most advanced one. Based on its counterparts from all over Europe and mostly Canada it has taken the best of all of them and combined it in one. As it also interfaces with my field of work I became quite acquainted to it, especially in regards to cancellation policies, refunds, etc..Typically German, we (as in the company I work for) stick to the rule and the law in this case.
My story here though is purely personal and I was on the other side of the wall. I had booked my aunt and uncle, who will come to visit me at the end of the year, into this super luxurious safari lodge in Welgevonden. Very African look and feel, with quite a colonial touch. Deposit of 25% had just been paid, when for various reasons (one of them flight changes) I needed to cancel their stay. Please note, that I cancelled in JUNE!! Their stay was scheduled for end of December. In my opinion this is surely enough time to find an alternative consumer (or rather guest in this case). Well, the lodge didn’t think so and refused to refund the deposit. So, I wrote them a nice letter stating the relevant paragraph of the CPA which clearly says:
17 (2): Subject to subsections (3) and (4), a consumer has the right to cancel any advance booking, reservation or order for any goods or services to be supplied.
(4) (c) the reasonable potential for the service provider, acting diligently, to find an alternative consumer between the time of receiving the cancellation notice and the time of the cancelled reservation; and
(d) the general practice of the relevant industry.
Again, in my opinion 6 months notice is definitely a reasonable timeframe for the supplier to find a new consumer!
Are you interested in their response? ” Our refund policy stays as is, our practice is general industry practice”. So, no refund!!!
Of course, I have done my research and industry standard is 31 days prior to arrival no refund. And I agree.. 31 days might be too short notice to find an alternative guest, especially for a luxurious lodge for which guests from overseas usually plan their stay well in advance.
My next step was that I wrote to the consumer complaints commission. A few days later, I got an email from them saying that they are now assessing the case and they will revert back to me within 14 days. This was about 10 days ago. Today, I got a call from my aunt saying that the full deposit has been refunded into their account! How efficient is that??? I am so impressed. The consumer complaints commission must have contacted the lodge immediately and threatened them with a court case since I was obviously right!
So, deposit refunded, new lodge booked and I am happy with the efficiency of South Africa’s consumer complaints commission! A real good example of how things should work. Impressive!
By the way, the new lodge booked has a more modern, contemporary look and feel and a cancellation policy of full refund of the deposit up to 31 days prior to arrival! Loving the lodge – Clifftop Lodge