Saturday, 12 October 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is Global Green Network legit?

That depends if you consider pyramid schemes legitimate!

Several people have asked me the same question recently. They’ve been approached by various people, some in Botswana, others in neighbouring countries, encouraging them to join. Their web site (which was first registered three months ago) describes the business as “an international Empowerment Organisation with the ultimate design of uplifting life’s with entrepreneur development and migration facilitation as rewards for our business partners.” But that’s just words.


I contacted one of the recruiters on WhatsApp and she explained to me what the business really is. I asked her to confirm that to make money with GGN “we don't sell any products, we make money just by recruiting other people?” She was very clear and replied, “Yes we only market the business”. Another member of the WhatsApp group also said, “Yes in GGN we don't sell anything”.


The recruiter I spoke to, who was based in Namibia, was incredibly enthusiastic and has been bugging me ever since to join. I think that enthusiasm says a lot, don’t you? She clearly urgently needs recruits to make the money she was promised.

The bad news for anyone attempting to recruit into the scheme in Botswana is that Section 9 of the new Consumer Protection Act defines a pyramid scheme as a business in which income is promised or made “primarily” from the recruitment of other members rather than the sale of products or services. GGN’s own people confess that this is the case. The new Act makes it very clear that promoting, or even just joining a pyramid scheme is punishable by a fine of up to P100,000 or five years in prison. Or both. Is that a risk you want to take?

Where’s my car?

I bought a car at Mogoditshane on 11th June 2019 and I immediately noticed that it had a leaking engine oil which I reported. The manager said they can only repair it which I complied with. They took the car to fix the leaking oil and afterwards it had a "check engine light sign" which I reported and they said I should bring it for fixing. It also had a problem with water circulation. They took the car for the second time. To my surprise the car still had check engine light. I took the car to them and they tested with the machine and they explained to me that it was a sensor problem and I can bring it back to them to be fixed. I also informed them that there's a leakage of oil again. On 20th August the car engine died. They took the car for repair and now its 6 weeks since they took it and they still haven't fixed the problem.

My question is how long can I wait and what is the best route that I can take to attend this problem legally with minimal cost.


Unfortunately, this certainly isn’t the first time I’ve heard stories like this. I know it’s too late to give you this advice, but whenever you buy a second-hand car, there are several things you must do before signing anything or handing over your money. Firstly, and this seems obvious but you’d be surprised how often people fail to do this, but you must take the vehicle for a test drive. Even an ordinary driver might be able to identify some clues that something might be wrong with the way the vehicle behaves and responds. Secondly, ask the person or garage selling the vehicle for some evidence that it’s in good condition. Ask for a roadworthiness certificate if it’s an imported vehicle or for the service history. You should be looking for a vehicle that was cared for by its previous owners.

Lastly, and this is the most important recommendation, always get the vehicle checked by an independent mechanic or at least someone with more knowledge than you about how cars work. If you don’t know anyone, you can always “borrow” one from a garage you’ve used in the past. It might cost you a little cash or some beer but it will be worth it to get some specialist advice.

In your case I suggest that you write the seller a letter or email saying that Section 16 of the Consumer Protection Act of 2018 says that a consumer can return an item in its original condition within six months if it is not “of a quality that that consumers are reasonably entitled to expect”. You should also inform them that Section 17 says that when a supplier repairs something they must offer a three-month warranty on that repair. Do they want to be one of the first companies to be prosecuted for breaching this new law?

Saturday, 5 October 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can they take me to court?

I lost my job last year August and have not been able to get work since. I have a mortgage with NDB and have not been able to pay since Jan 2019. I then engaged the bank in July telling them my situation and asking them for options on what we can do so that I do not continue to owe them. The bank said they can do nothing but to litigate me at my cost and get a court order to take my house from me.

I wrote them a letter requesting them to not litigate me as I can afford the legal costs of litigation, nor want the added stress and emotional burden of being taken to court and my name being publicly published in the newspapers bringing shame and humiliation to my name and family name. Publicising my name in such a manner will also hurt my prospects of future employment. In the same letter I requested to them that I surrender the property to them immediately as the end result of the litigation will be the same. They refused and said it is not their process they have to litigate.

I wrote them another letter and asked for 6 months to sell the house privately. They agreed to give me the 6 months, the deadline is December 2019 but they said they will still go ahead with the litigation process and implement the court order in December 2019. I have had 2 offers to buy the house but both have fallen through. I really do not want to be litigated especially since I am willing to surrender the property without the added extra cost and emotional trauma.

Can you please help me to convince them to allow me to surrender the property please? They do seem to understand the mental damage they are doing to us. I know I owe them and I honestly would pay if I had money but I don’t. I hope you can help me Mr Richard. Please.


I’m really sorry to hear about this situation. I can’t imagine how stressful this might be.

Unfortunately, I think I can understand why the bank are being so strict. Not every customer is as cooperative and decent as you are. I hear plenty of stories about consumer being abused by banks, but I also hear many stories about customers who do their best to avoid their obligations. I suspect that the bank is being extremely cautious, based on their previous experience of some people in your position. They need that order against you in case you aren’t able to honour your obligations.

The key thing is to keep talking to the bank. Let them know about everything that happens so they can never tell a court that you’ve been uncooperative.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my bath tub?

Good Morning Richard! I need your help. There is a hardware store in Lobatse, we long paid for goods and transport for goods to be delivered at Goodhope in the beginning of August, Even up to now they haven’t delivered all the goods. They keep on delivering the wrong item. We had told them we want a white ceramic bath tub and we were told ceramic is only in pink and we opted for it only for them to deliver a white plastic tub and a changed story that they don’t sell ceramic. Can you please help so that we get the rightful items or a refund because we should have long started plumbing.


I think the time has come to walk away from this deal and get a refund, don’t you?

This store is clearly incapable of delivering what you ordered and you need to a find a better store, not only one that can deliver what you order but one that won’t make up stories to cover up their uselessness.

I suggest that you contact hem and tell them, either in writing or by message that you are cancelling the deal because they have failed to deliver what you ordered from them and what they agreed to supply. Tell them that they have breached Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations of 2001 by trying to offer you goods that did not “match any sample or description given to the consumer”. Tell them that they have also breached Section 13 (1) (d) by supplying goods that were not “of a particular standard, quality, or grade” and not “of a particular style or model”.

You should then remind them that Section 15 (1) (e) of the Regulations requires a supplier like them “to promptly restore” and payments that have been made when a deal is cancelled like this. I’m not sure what “promptly” means exactly but maybe give them seven days to pay you back. You should end by saying that if they don’t cooperate with your very reasonable cancellation of the deal and refund your money you’ll ask the Small Claims Court for an order against them for the money you paid them. Maybe that will be enough pressure?

Is World Class Billionaires a pyramid scheme?

Definitely, no doubt about it.

There are various clues about this scheme that suggest it’s a scam. For instance, they claim on their web site that it's their "3rd Year of Operation" and they have "Over 12 Years of Experience" but their domain was only registered on 13th June this year.

They also claim that they are based in Dubai, saying that their physical address is "Suite 17, The Iridium Building, Umm Suqeim Road, Al Barsha, Dubai". It took me just a few seconds to discover that this is an accommodation address used by dozens of companies.

Then there are the claims they make. They say that you can earn "10% to 14% Monthly". If that was true, which it clearly isn’t, and you made that sort of money and you reinvested it each month, that would give you an annual percentage rate of 382%. That’s absurd and clearly a lie.

It’s interesting that on their web site they offer some "testimony" from someone who they claim is in Botswana although I can’t find a trace of the person they name. This probably fictitious person says:

"I am still new in WCBG. I Partnered with P5 000 in February and I got P800 four times in March, April, May and June. Thank you for coming to Botswana. I will buy my first house next year!"
Look at that quote again and do the maths. This person apparently invested P5,000 and so far has received P3,200 back. So they’ve currently made a loss of P1,800? And that’s a success? That’s how they’re going to afford to buy a house? Is that meant to be persuasive?

This is very simple. World Class Billionaires is an illegal "multiplication scheme" that offers returns above the market rate. This is forbidden by Section 9 of the Consumer Protection Act of 2018 and the maximum penalty for promoting or even joining such a scheme is a fine of up to P100,000 AND prison for up to 5 years. Is that a risk worth taking?

Saturday, 21 September 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Did he swindle me?

In September last year I went into an agreement with a Forex company in Commerce Park for the PAMM account offered by Hot Forex trading for a period of 6 months. Unfortunately in March 2019 they wrote me a letter purporting that the account has been hacked, which Hotforex trading desk denied. I have since lost over P36,000 of the P50,000 that I invested. I have followed him up on numerous occasions to pay me back but I have failed, even the P2,500 that was a security fee, he has refused to refund me.

Kindly assist because I suspect he has swindled a lot of us as there was a number of us who invested into the PAMM account and he has always refused to reveal the names of the other people. He has threatened that wherever I report, I will not be able to get my money back.


I think this is very suspicious. The Botswana-based forex company you met offer the services of the HotForex trading company which is based in St. Vincent & the Grenadines in the Caribbean. However, from the documents you sent me, it’s clear that you were dealing primarily with the local company. They were the ones who marketed the 60% profit they claimed you could make within six months.


There are various approaches we can use to apply pressure on the local company. Firstly, they made the claim that you could make 60% return on your investment. That claim is illegal, contrary to Section 9 of the 2018 Consumer Protection Act which outlaws what it calls “multiplication schemes” where a company “offers, promises or guarantees to a participant an effective annual interest rate that is above the market rate”.

Also, it sounds to me that they were offering investment services. The agreement you signed certainly refers to you as the “investor” many times. I think that means they might be in deep trouble with NBFIRA who regulate financial and investment advisors.

Finally, there’s the claim that the company in the Caribbean was “hacked”. I can find no news reports of that happening and it’s a big enough story to have been widely reported. I suspect he’s making up stories.

Let’s both contact NBFIRA and I’ll also contact the local guy who seems to be telling stories. Let’s see if he can be more helpful?

Is World Ventures a pyramid scheme?

I am writing to you in order to hear facts concerning World Ventures Company and what is being said that about it that it is a Pyramid scheme. Can you please help me understand why it is said to be a pyramid scheme so as to have a concrete idea concerning it.


World Ventures is most certainly a pyramid scheme and it’s not just me that says so. The authorities in Norway declared it a pyramid scheme in 2014 and despite World Ventures spending a lot of effort and money appealing that ruling, they failed over and over again. In 2015 the Malaysian authorities declared it an “illegal business”. Three years later, in 2018 the Rwandan authorities warned their consumers that it was a pyramid scheme. This year, the Taiwanese have laid charges against the organisers claiming that World Ventures is “a classic pyramid scheme”. I think there’s a pattern emerging, don’t you?


Like all other pyramid schemes, the truth is simple. The people at the top of the pyramid make money but only at the expense of the people they recruit them. Their latest income disclosure statement World Ventures published in the USA in 2016 showed firstly that 80% of the people who joined made nothing from World Ventures. NOTHING at all. Of the lucky ones who made any money, 77% of the money earned went to the top 5% of people. 74% of the people earning money shared just 10% of the income. And how much money did people actually make? If you include just those people who made money, the average earnings per year is a measly $355. If you include everyone in the scheme, it's a pitiful $30.

So please don't waste your time, money and effort joining pyramid schemes like this one. Remember that the new Consumer Protection Act makes promoting or even just joining a pyramid scheme illegal. Joining could result in a fine of up to P100,000 and five years in prison. Is it worth the risk?

Saturday, 14 September 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my lay-bye?

This email serves to lodge a complaint against a store in Francistown. I had made a laybye of a jacket which cost P1,380 sometimes between end of May or beginning of June 2019 and due to some unforeseen circumstances failed to pay the full amount. I visited the branch today and requested to cancel the laybye and had no problem with the 10% penalty / cancellation fee. I requested for a cash refund to enable me to use the funds elsewhere and even after the penalty, I was informed that they cannot give me a cash refund that they can only put the refunded amount in a gift voucher which I can only use to buy at the same store. They are forcing me to buy at their store even after the penalty which I agreed to pay which is 10% of the P345 I had paid as deposit.

Is there a way consumer watchdog can assist on the issue?


Like almost every agreement, this depends on what was in writing. Written agreements are everything. They’re the only things that matter. Verbal agreements are worthless.

I suggest you go back to any written agreement you had with the store and see what it says about payment terms. What does it say will happen if you default? Does it say that you’re not entitled to a cash refund? Does it say you must accept a voucher to spend in their store? Is that what it says? That’s the agreement you are committed to.

However, if there was no written agreement, I suspect you might be in a slightly more powerful position. My suggestion would be to deliver a letter or email to the store saying that you are cancelling the deal. Make your letter is the first thing that’s in writing. Tell them that the deal is cancelled and that in accordance with Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations of 2001, you are formally cancelling the deal and that they must therefore restore to you any “deposit, down payment, or other payment” you have made to them. Remind them that the Regulations say that such a refund must be made “promptly”. It doesn’t define exactly what “promptly” means but I think we all know when something isn’t done promptly, don’t we?

Where are my forex profits?

There is a company in the CBD led by a certain lady who is a forex trader, I have been following her page in Facebook since 2017 before it disappeared this year. The company was doing great and it's services caught my eye. So beginning of this year around February she introduced account management and entrust account. I checked her at the CBD office with my husband and she gladly explained or described the two new services i.e their advantages and disadvantages. And we told her that we will think about them first. After 3 /4 months I went back to her CBD office to sign up for the entrust account. The account worked more like a loan to her in which we signed a contract on the 12th June 2019 and the contract was valid till the 12th August 2019 that's when she was supposed to return the money with the interest she agreed to pay. But she has since resorted to not paying me. She extended till the 30th August but still she couldn't pay and she promised to pay on the 6th September, but she has since blocked my number. Is there anyway u can help or advice me to solve this.


Here’s a simple truth. Forex trading by individuals like you and me is no different to gambling in a casino. Many of us have heard stories of people who’ve won fortunes in casinos and many of us might have heard of people who made money from trading foreign exchange. Some of these stories might even be true but they cover up the stories that are never told. The VAST majority of people who gamble in casinos lose their money, just like the VAST majority of people who trade forex who also lose the money they gamble.

You need to remember that while forex trading is often described as a “zero-sum” game, where overall the amount of money stays the same, where for every winner there’s a loser, this isn’t actually true with forex trading. Ordinary mortals like you and me, if we’re reckless enough to trade forex, need to do so through a forex trading platform who take a cut from everything we trade. THEY are the only ones who consistently make money from the business. Whoever wins and loses, they make money. That’s why they’re so desperate to recruit new people.

In your case, I wonder whether any forex trading even took place? I think you should contact both the Bank of Botswana who regulate “deposit-taking” schemes and NBFIRA who oversee anyone who offers investment advice. Between them I think they have the power to make this person explain herself. Send me her details and I’ll get in touch with her as well.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

He’s threatened me with the police!

Sir, I need your help here please. I sold someone a phone. I told the guy before he bought the phone that its not working it fell hard on the floor but still he wanted it. He even charged it himself. Now he is saying it looks like the charging system is burnt and he is demanding his money back and he is threatening me with the police. What can I do?


The first thing you should do is try to find any records you might have that describe the state of the phone you sold this guy. It doesn’t matter whether they’re SMSs, WhatsApp messages or emails, so long as they prove that when you sold him the phone, you had made it very clear that it wasn’t in working condition. Then, if he does involve the authorities, you can show them that he knew exactly what he was buying.

More importantly, in future, you should always sign a sale agreement whenever you sell something of value. It doesn’t need to be a complicated agreement and you certainly don’t need an attorney to draft it for you. It just needs to describe the item you’re selling in detail, including the model, specification and serial numbers. It also needs to include a description of the state of the item, it’s condition and how well it’s working. Also include the cost that was agreed and how the money was paid. Finally, it needs to include a statement saying that the person buying the item understands all of this, agrees to it and that ownership transfers when the payment is made. All it then needs is both your signatures and date and you’re done. If you want to go an extra step, ask a couple of other people to witness the agreement for you.

In your situation, given that there is no such sale agreement, I suggest you tell the guy that you have messages proving that he understood the state of the phone and that he’s welcome to think about that before contacting the Police.

Must my husband pay?

My husband had an accident last February with a car belonging to a company but the car was not as badly damaged like my husband's. The accident was caused by my husband and the police were called to the scene and he was charged. The other driver told my husband that he will see how to cover it at work as the car was not that damaged so they parted my husband knowing that he doesn’t have a pending case. To our surprise at the end of October last we received a court case from a lawyer saying my husband should pay them P26,436 for the damage to the company car. So my issue is it possible to attend the car without the plaintiff’s knowledge then to an extent of suing him only for the company driver to tell him it’s a minor issue.



Unfortunately, it was unwise to rely on the what the other driver said. He had no authority to speak on his company’s behalf and he certainly wasn’t entitled to say that the company would not take action against your husband.

I don’t know whether the company had insurance that covered the cost of repairing their vehicle but regardless of that, it doesn’t alter the fact that your husband, the person who caused the accident, is liable to bear the costs of the repair. If they had insurance, the insurer would pay for the repairs and then claim that money back from your husband. If they didn’t have insurance, they would simply instruct attorneys to chase him for the costs. Either way, your husband pays because he’s the one who caused the accident.

With hindsight, it obviously would have been best if your husband had taken out his own vehicle insurance policy. If he’d done that then his insurance policy would have covered the cost of repairing the other vehicle. If he’d had a fully comprehensive policy it would have paid the repair costs for his own vehicle as well.

I know what many people think that insurance is an expensive luxury but they only think that until they need it. Then it suddenly seems like a bargain.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

I want my refund!

Hello Mr Richard. I have a problem with my school. They don’t want to refund me. The thing is they promised me that school starts on the 12 August, up to now no classes that have resumed. They told me they can’t teach me because am turning up to class alone. Is that my problem? I asked them to refund me my money so I can go to other schools. They are playing games with me but time is going. Please help me. I want my money back. I paid P3700, P200 for registration which is non refundable I don’t have problem with that. I want my P3,500 back.


I think you’re being too generous. I don’t care whether the P200 was meant to be refundable or not, I think you should get it back. Every last thebe.

I think the school needs to understand that it wasn’t your fault they weren’t able to recruit enough people for their course. They need to take responsibility for that and start respecting your right to a full refund. A FULL refund.

I suggest that we both contact them and explain to them that Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations says that when an agreement such as yours with the school is “rescinded, cancelled, or otherwise terminated”, like the school did by failing to offer the course, they must “promptly restore” any payments that have been made. It seems strange that a school, a center of education and knowledge, doesn’t understand what the word “promptly” means. Let’s explain it to them.

I want my refund as well!

We paid a company P2,500 for a wedding tent package, the quotation was P20,000 for 100 people and we were asked to pay a deposit of 50%. Unfortunately the bank could not issue us cash, the cash at hand was P2,500 and we paid it telling them it is to secure the date of October 27, and will pay deposit on the 19th.

After paying when arriving home for my cousins wedding, we found the tent package there was much cheaper. For 100 people it was only P8,000. Then we took decision to cancel the contract. We went back to within an hour time to reverse it and asked to be refunded and they told us it's impossible their deposit is non refundable. We debated issue but refused and they told us we can go where ever we want that's their policy. Their quotation has 2 clauses, 50% deposit not refundable and another one in same quotation says any cancellation less than a week before delivery date attracts 20% cancellation fee.

I want mediation to be refunded my deposit.


I can offer you good news. I can also offer you some bad news.

Let’s begin with the bad news. A cancellation clause in a contract is a common thing, particularly the last one you mention, that if a deal is cancelled at the last minute, there will be a penalty to be paid. I don’t think 20% is unreasonable, given that the supplier might have turned away other customers, spent money buying or hiring products or booking staff. However, that’s not relevant in your situation, you’ve cancelled the booking far in advance.

Your problem is the non-refundable deposit. Again, there’s nothing wrong with a non-refundable deposit in principle but in this case it seems excessive. The problem is that it’s in writing. You sent me a copy of the quotation and it is very clear that they want a 50% deposit and you don’t get it back if you cancel the booking. The rule is simple. Once something is in writing, that’s it.

And now the good news. You didn’t actually pay a 50% deposit. For once the failure of a bank has done you a favour. You only paid them P2,500, a 25% deposit.

I think you should accept that you’ve lost the 25% deposit that you paid and think yourself lucky that it’s only that amount you’ve lost.