IT MATTERS TO MARIA: Laptop beyond repair
When Lana Wilson took her laptop to a Bridgetown store last month to purchase a power cord she thought it would have been a very simple buying process.
But when she left the store her laptop was damaged beyond repair and she is upset that to this day she has not been compensated.
Explaining the situation, Wilson said she was directed to the Corner Store at Ricketts Street during her search for a power cord.
She enquired about the item and one of the sales clerks handed her a package containing a universal attachment with different size connectors.
“I asked her if she could open the package so I could test it to make sure that one would fit my laptop. She was standing behind the counter and I walked over to her with my laptop in my hand and she plugged in one size but it didn’t fit, so I took out another one and gave it to her and she plugged it in.
She said the sales clerk then proceeded to press a lever on the other end which was attached to a socket.
“I asked her what she was doing and she just dropped the cord and walked away and dealt with another customer.”
Shortly after, another clerk came over to her.
“I told her there didn’t seem to be any power and to check to see if there was any activity on her end. She took up the same lever and started pressing it back and forth and I asked her what she was doing and she said it was to turn on the computer. She dropped the cord and walked away. I looked away for a few seconds and then I started smelling smoke and when I looked back my laptop where the plug was in started to smoke.
“I pulled it out and I told her to check what was going on by the socket and she pulled it out.
A shocked Wilson said she asked the sales clerk what had happened. “She looked at the plug and she was mumbling under her breath. I asked her where I could get the computer fixed and she directed me to a nearby store.”
Wilson said she asked to speak to the manager and the sales clerk wrote a number on a piece of paper and gave her. “I asked her for the manager’s name and she just walked away.”
The woman said she took her laptop to the repair store and left it there to be checked.
“On my way home that evening I passed by the Corner Store and I went into a store next door and asked a gentleman if he knew who was the owner of the Corner Store, he said to me ‘I am’.”
Wilson said she proceeded to tell him what had happened and he told her that no one had reported the incident to him but advised her to take the device to a repair shop. “He told me the store would pay for the repairs.”
However, she said the next day she was informed by the owner of the repair shop that her computer could not be fixed. “He told me it was completely fried and there was nothing he could do.
Wilson proceeded back to the Corner Store and spoke to the owner again informing him that her computer could not be repaired.
“He said to me that he spoke to his girls and they are telling him that I plugged the cord into my computer so he cannot pay for any repairs.
“I was very upset and I said, ‘Are you serious? How can I just climb over your counter to plug in something?’ He said let’s go over and confront the girls.”
However, Wilson said when they got to the store, before she could say anything the sales clerks literally told her off.
“They said, ‘You come in here and plug in you thing and you went and tell the boss that we burn your computer; you burn your own computer’.
Overcome with anger, she walked out of the store and went to Central Police Station where she was referred to the Fair Trading Commission, which advised her to speak to the office of the Public Counsel.
However, after making her report there, she said an officer contacted her a few days later and told her she had spoken to the owner of the store and he insisted he was not compensating her, adding that they could not represent her either because the computer was being used for business purposes.
“I am very unhappy about what has happened. I can’t get any work done because I have lost all of my important information and now I have to be using my son’s computer,” Wilson complained.
Pointing out that she lived in England for 30 years before returning to Barbados eight months ago, Wilson said she was appalled that there appeared to be no adequate redress for consumers.
When contacted, the owner of the store, Prakash Mahtani, said he could not compensate Wilson because she plugged the cord into the computer herself.
“She went to the Public Counsel and we had a meeting with the Public Counsel and we explained the facts to him. The fault lies with her putting in the power cord. The girls advised her against it and she insisted that she knew what she was doing.”
He said his employees had worked with him for many years and he accepted their version of the events.
“She didn’t even buy the cord . . . . We have been selling this cord for computers and people have been buying them and they have been working beautifully. People have come back and bought more and more. I sold 50 of those cords and I have not had one of those returned to me,” he said.