The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) have been accused of thwarting a customer’s effort at seeking redress for being sold used tyres as new.
The customer, Mr. Obafemi Bolaji, told SaharaReporters that on 2 December 2016, he placed an order for three new Goodyear tyres from Infinity Tyres, located opposite Mobil petrol station, Ring Road in Ibadan.
On delivery, he checked the tyres to see the dates they were produced. However, he discovered that the place where the production dates are normally written had scratches, an indication of an attempt to conceal the real date of manufacture.
Sniffing fraud, he called the tyre dealership and was told by a man with an Indian accent that he could return the tyres and collect a refund. Mr. Bolaji said he asked if the man with the Indian accent knew what he did was criminal and the man dismissed his complaint by saying: “Nothing will happen.” Disappointed, he phoned the CPC office in Akure, Ondo State, where he resides.
“I was asked to write a petition detailing my complaint,” he said.
On 8 December, 2016, Mr. Bolaji said he submitted the petition at CPC office in Akure. The next day, he took the tyres to the office, where he was told that he would be accompanied by CPC officials to Infinity Tyres office in Ibadan on 11 December.
What followed next should have put him off, but the possibility of getting redress made him agree to the indecent proposal made by CPC officials. “I was told that I would bear the cost of fueling the commission’s vehicle that would take us to Ibadan and I agreed.
On 10 December, recalled Mr. Bolaji, he called the Ondo State administrator of CPC to confirm if the trip to Ibadan would be undertaken as agreed. The response he got was a dampener. “The administrator said the commission’s vehicle was faulty, but asked me to come so he could transfer the matter to the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON),” he said.
Irked by the levity with which his case was being handled, Mr. Bolaji said he sent an e-mail to the CPC headquarters in Abuja on 12 December, 2016. The mail detailed the uncooperative attitude of CPC officials in Akure before proceeding to the SON office in the Ondo State capital to personally lodge a complaint.
At SON, said Mr. Bolaji, he was asked to bring a copy of the petition submitted to the CPC on 13 December, 2016.
He was told by the state coordinator of SON to come back six days later for a meeting with the representatives of Infinity Tyres.
On arrival at the SON office on the agreed date, he was, however, told that the tyres had been taken to Ibadan. “I was then told to travel to the SON office in Ibadan, which was not the agreement we had,” he stated.
His grievance doubled, as he felt that being the one who reported the matter, he should not be made to go to Ibadan. Infinity Tyres, he argued, should have been invited over to Akure.
But the desire for redress was strong, making him agree to go to Ibadan in the hope that the matter would be resolved between 28 and 29 December. He left Akure for Ibadan on 28 December. But on arrival, Mr. Bolaji said he was told that the Oyo State coordinator of SON was on leave and nothing could be done until he resumed.
Frustrated, he sought and, luckily, obtained the phone number of SON’s Director of Compliance. He placed a call to him on 31 January to lodge a complaint. He was asked to return to the SON office in Akure on 2 February, 2017, for a meeting with representatives of Infinity Tyres at 11.15am
“I got to SON office by 11am, as the meeting was scheduled for 11.15am. A few minutes later, I saw the representatives of Infinity Tyres - an Indian and a black man - drive in. They joined me at the reception. After a while, they were called in, leaving only me at the reception, where I waited for one and a half hours,” narrated Mr. Bolaji.
When the men from Infinity Tyres left, he was called in and told by a SON official that the matter had virtually been settled and what was left was for Mr. Bolaji to collect a refund or be given three new tyres. He found this very disagreeable.
“I saw this final act of SON as that of impunity, insensitivity and irresponsibility. I was never briefed of what transpired inside while I waited at the reception. I was not allowed to say anything. They did not care whether or not I had suffered discomfort since I bought the tyres,” he said.
More worryingly, explained Mr. Bolaji, was that one Mr. Ahmed of the SON office in Akure, who was at the meeting, was speaking for Infinity Tyres as though he was the company’s attorney.
Mr. Bolaji said he eventually took the original tyres back after the meeting and feels very badly treated.
“I have the recorded phone conversation between myself and Infinity Tyres agent.
"I am embittered and feel cheated. I could have returned those tyres immediately and collected my money, but I felt I should not keep quiet because people die daily on our roads because of fake or expired tyres. Many innocent Nigerians purchase tyres without checking the dates,” he said.