Saturday, 13 July 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can they call us like this?

Hi Richard. I need advice. If someone is owing on a loan but are unemployed can the bank start calling the persons relatives asking about his or her whereabouts and asking them to get him to come see them?


First things first. If I owe a bank some money they’re entitled to make efforts to collect that money. They’re entitled to call me, email me, send me text messages and write me letters to remind me that I owe them money and encouraging me to pay my debt. If I stop communicating with them, as many people do, they’re entitled to try and find me.

Before I go on, everyone needs to understands that this does happen. Borrowers DO stop communicating with the companies that have lent them money. Many of them DO their best to avoid their obligations and their commitments. I have some sympathy for the lenders who are faced with this sort of situation.

However, there are some limits. New limits. Section 6 of the 2018 Consumer Protection Act, which is titled “Prohibition of certain conduct”, says that a supplier is not permitted to “use force, coercion, undue influence, pressure, duress, harassment, unfair tactics or any other similar conduct against the consumer, in connection with … the enforcement of an agreement”.

This doesn’t mean the bank can’t make those phone calls and send those emails. It doesn’t mean that they can’t call the debtor’s friends and relatives and politely ask if they know where he might be. It DOES mean that they can’t cross the line and become unpleasant. They can’t be bullies. They can’t embarrass the person they’re chasing or his friends, colleagues and relatives. They can’t be nasty.

If this happens to you, if you’re the person the bank is hassling, looking for the person who owes them money, you need to tell them very clearly that they may not pester you any longer and that if they call you again you’ll complain to their Managing Director and to Consumer Watchdog.

If you’re the person they’re chasing, then you need to stop hiding. You won’t escape their attention, they’ll never give up and the sooner you start speaking to them, the less you’ll owe.

Can I get my money back?

Hello Richard. How do you deal with someone who swindle your some money in the pretence of registering you companies of which she never delivered and kept coming for more money. Then you realise that the person never did the job instead they ate the money, you cancel and demand the money back and she says she will pay end June. Now end of June I demand my money back she blocks me. This woman is owing me P3000. There were no receipts when paying, but the conversation and recorded calls say it all.


There are certain industries that seem to have more than their fair share of crooks. The wedding industry is one, we hear of so many weddings ruined by amateur photographers, caterers and dressmakers. Second-hand car dealers as well, we all know about their reputation. The “consultants” who register companies for a fee, they also have a major proportion of crooks.

I think you need to get a message to this latest example somehow, making it very clear that your patience has worn out and now you need your money back. You should let them know that your next step will be to approach the Small Claims Court for an order against them. You should also tell them that you’ll be visiting CIPA, the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority, which registers companies, informing them that her company lies to its customers and pretends to register companies but in fact steals their money. You should also tell them that we’re on the case now as well.

I’ll get in touch with this person and see if I can apply a little pressure as well.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

International Breadwinners threaten to sue me!

Please advise, i have joined a networking marketing business called IBW (International breadwinners). It all began when they enticed us with certain incentives when you reach a certain stage. (Stage 5). So there is 200 hundred of us of which we contributed P1,250 each. They are now claiming that we have to contribute another P3800. But if you question their operation they remove you from their Whatsapp group. There is no compensation or refund whatsoever.

Kindly assist, how can I report them but they are claiming to sue me since they mention they have established lawyers.


International Breadwinners is not a multi-level or network marketing scheme. It’s a pyramid scheme.

In a WhatsApp conversation I had with someone trying to recruit me some months ago I was told that IBW is “A network marketing business where by u join with P100 and recruit 2 people and they will be registered under u. this 2 people they also recruit their 2 people. Is a business of 2x2. Everyone who joins must bring 2 people. Then u elevate as more people come on board and move stages.”


You note that they don’t mention any products? I then went on to ask several recruiters the same question. “We don’t need to sell any products, just recruit other people?” They all gave me very similar answers. One said “We don’t sell anything” and that “all we do is we recruit” people.


That recruiter also claimed to be a serving police officer which is worrying as he’s also now a criminal who can face a fine of up to P100,000 and five years imprisonment for promoting a pyramid scheme.


Your problem is a difficult one. If, as you say, two hundred people have joined, each contributing P1,250, someone somewhere has raised P250,000. Do you really think they want to give that back? The people who start pyramid schemes like IBW do it to make money and to do so at the expense of the people like you who were seduced by their claims of a money-making opportunity. That’s why they want you all to contribute another P3,800. Clearly they want to raise a million. And do you know what’s worse? They’ve made a criminal of you as well. Section 9 of the new Consumer Protection Act outlaws not just promoting pyramid schemes but even joining them.



The good news is that the regulators are more and more are interested in controlling these schemes and protecting consumers. I’ll let them know about your testimony.

And the legal threat? Tell them that they’re welcome to threaten me. I’d welcome a good laugh!

Can’t they get a refund?

Please advice me here. On the 26 June I bought 2 bus fare tickets for my friends who were travelling from China to Botswana, They were going to catch the bus on the 28th from OR Tambo to Gabz. Unfortunately their flight got delayed by 12 hours in Hong Kong. My complaint is the bus company is refusing to refund at least half of the bus fare ticket since my friends won’t be boarding with them anyway but to my surprise they have given away those 2 seats to other clients and have received payment for them also. Is that allowed?

Is it allowed? That depends on various things. Firstly, it depends on what it says in the Terms and Conditions of their tickets. Does it mention anything about situation like this?

While it must be frustrating for your friends you should also ask yourself this question. The bus company sold your friends their tickets in good faith but was it the bus company’s fault that the flight was delayed? Yes, they were lucky to find other customers who could take their seats but there was no guarantee of that.

This is a very good example of why travel insurance is such a valuable thing. Anyone who is planning to travel internationally buy a travel insurance policy alongside their ticket. Even better, if you buy your tickets with your Visa credit card your bank might even give you travel insurance for free. Make that call before you travel and it could save you a lot of money of something goes wrong.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my phone?

I think I am being scammed by a phone repair shop. Two months ago I began having WiFi connectivity issues on my otherwise fully functional and pristine iPhone 7. I went to a few repair shops to look at it and many did not know what the problem was until I found a repair shop in the Rail Park area.

I was told it was an antenna issue which could be fixed for P450, so I left my phone and returned the following day, but when I returned I was told it was not an antenna issue and instead it would cost P2,000 to replace the logic board. I asked for my phone back while I considered what they told me, but upon receiving my phone, it was not fully functional anymore and the camera was not working. I returned the phone to them thinking they did not re-assemble it correctly, instead they told me they needed to order a new camera part, and it was not just a matter of re-assembly. I left the phone with them to fix as I waited for the camera part and I was supposed to be called when it was ready. After several weeks went by I called asking about my phone, but I was told it still isn't ready.

To make matters worse, they are now claiming that the display is also not functioning and they need to order a new display too. Meaning on top of the previous damage to the camera they had caused, they have now also damaged the screen too according to them.

They won't give me my phone back, they won't let me go to another repair shop and my iPhone has now been held by them for 2 months with no sign I'll get it back anytime soon. Things are getting worse, they keep giving me different stories that don't add up, and recently they have been very elusive and have been ignoring my phone calls. I was supposed to pick my phone on Saturday but they have ignored my calls since Friday. Please may you advise me on how I can move forward with this issue. I have considered going to the police to report this scam, but I'm not really sure what my options are to solve this. I appreciate any advice you can give me.


Firstly, I’m not sure the Police can assist you, there’s no evidence at this stage that they’ve done anything criminal, it’s more a case of incompetence I suspect.

I think we’ll remind the manager of this store that Section 15 (1) (a) of Consumer Protection Regulations requires a supplier of goods or services like them to offer services “with reasonable care and skill”. We can’t expect miracles from someone repairing a phone but you can expect them not to break it and then refuse to give it back to you.

I’ll get in touch with the store and see what can be done.

Update: You’ll have your phone back tomorrow, repaired for free.

Why won’t they fix it?

In April 2019 we paid a company to install an aircon in one of our office. The job was done but we have since encountered challenges with the new air corn as it does not work. The company has since been called to come and address the issue to this day they have not shown up. when called is either they don't answer our calls or they make promises to come and fix the problem of which they never fulfil. Please assist.


I think you deserve exactly the same answer as the previous consumer. The phrase “with reasonable care and skill” does seem to be rather confusing for some service providers, don’t you think? Is it really that complicated?

I contacted the supplier and he told me that “I did install it and it's been working fine and they told me end of May it's not working fine. so we didn't have any guarantee or wats so ever. so it's not my fault that it doesn't work fine. it's a charge sir”

No, that’s NOT how things work. The Consumer Protection Regulations describe the "implied warranty of merchantability and fitness for use" that exists when something is sold. That exists to protect us all and it only disappears if the customer agrees to waive that right. You clearly did NOT so it’s still there.

Why do some suppliers try to make life so complicated?

Monday, 24 June 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

They sold me a faulty phone!

I bought a phone on Friday and I charged it until it was fully charged, when I got home I downloaded playstore then created a gmail account and immediately the battery went from 100% to empty and it never went on again. I went back to the store on Saturday and explained to the manager everything that happened to the phone. At first the manager didn't want to assist but after a long talk he agreed to take the phone back to delete the playstore & gmail account, he promised to refund me my money if he finds the phone in the state I bought it, I agreed because I was 100% sure I didn't damage the phone in anyway, again he promised to call me as soon as he was done checking the phone but he never did. On Sunday I called him to make a follow up and he said they were still busy trying to delete the gmail account and he said he'll get back to, again he didn't. Monday I called him to check the progress and I was told the phone is ok but I only managed to go to the store on Wednesday. When I got there he told me to choose another phone and top up but I refused since it was not our initial agreement so I left. Today I went back, he told me to either choose another phone and top up or he charges me a 25% handling fee of which I did not agree with because it wasn't my fault that they sold me a faulty phone.

I then called the store owner and he asked to hear the other side from the manager, later on he called me back telling me the issue has been resolved and I should go back to the store to claim back my full amount that I bought the phone at. I arrived at the store and the manager refused to give me the money back in full, I called the store owner and he said he has already settled the and doesn't want to hear anything about it then he hung up on me. The manager called him and after the call he told me he is deducting 10% handling fee, still I refused because I didn't get why I have to be charged that handling fee though it was their product that was faulty, the phone failed me as soon as I tried to use it.


I think this is quite a simple situation. Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations requires suppliers to offer goods that are “of merchantable quality”, meaning that they should be “fit for the purposes for which commodities of that kind are usually purchased”. You bought a cellphone and it should behave as a cellphone. It’s not very complicated. In this situation you’re entitled to one of the three Rs: a refund, a repair or a replacement but it’s up to the store to decide which.

In your case the store promised you a refund and that’s what you deserve. No delays, no “handling fee”, no nonsense, just your money back. I suggest that you explain this to them and we’ll do the same. Let’s see if they can be reasonable. And obey the law.

Must I pay the extra?

I saw an advertisement in a newspaper for Project Management Short Course. I went to their offices and saw a lady who advised that I go make the payment for the course and then come and see her with the receipt. After making the payment of P3310 as stated on the newspaper I went back to her with the receipt which when she realised I paid P3310 she asked when I will be paying the remaining money. Shocked at her question I told her I have paid the money in total as seen on the advertisement. She requested to see the advert and I showed it to her. She insisted that I pay the remaining money or I get a refund. I told her I am paying for what was advertised and she advised that they made an error on the advert. She then took me to her co-worker who upon hearing my query gave me an attitude, stating that I should make the payment of the P490 balance or I won't attend the course. I stated that I cannot make the payment as to me it is not what I saw on the advertisement. I left their office telling them I am not paying anything extra that I didn't know about.


Section 13 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations states very clearly that a supplier fails “to meet minimum standards of performance“ if they sell a product not “as advertised or represented”. It’s not that complicated. The price shown in an advertisement or on a shelf is the price you pay.

The problem is that it might be difficult to persuade the company to sacrifice the P490 they neglected to include in the advertised price. But it’s worth a try. I suggest you make it clear to them that you know and understand your rights and expect them to respect them. I’m happy to get in touch with them and maybe the Consumer Protection Unit can add their support as well?

Saturday, 15 June 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

STOP PRESS. Before this article was published in The Voice, the Bank of Botswana banned Global Dream Network. A pat on the back to BOB!




Should I join Global Dream Network?

So many people have asked us about this scheme. Most of them have seen invitations on Facebook to join the scheme and are curious. Can they really offer the profits they claim?

The ads on Facebook suggest that after paying a joining fee of R350, and then recruiting four levels of people beneath you, you’ll have “potential earnings” of R38,800. However, just a few moments of thought show that this is simply impossible. Where does the money come from? How does R350 increase over one hundred times?

GDN say that their business is "all about giving donation to another member and you shall receive donation in multiples" and that it’s “a Person to Person, Direct Funding and Crowd Sharing Platform”. That’s exactly what we heard from a range of previous pyramid and Ponzi schemes, a mysterious scheme in which you donate money and magically, a lot more money comes your way. It’s not difficult to see that it’s an impossible, unsustainable business model.

The truth is very simple and some of the people recruiting will be honest about it. The new money, the extra cash they say you’ll earn comes from the other people they want you to recruit. It also comes from the extra money you have to add as you go through the various levels.

I joined one of their WhatsApp conversations and asked the recruiter “To make money do I need to sell any products or just recruit other people” and was told “You recruit 2 people and teach ur two people to do the same”. She then confirmed to me that there are no actual products being bought or sold.

Section 9 of the 2018 Consumer Protection Act says that a pyramid scheme is “where participants in the scheme receive compensation derived primarily from their respective recruitment of other persons as participants”. That’s exactly how the people recruiting for GDN describe the scheme. It’s the definition of a pyramid scheme. No products, just recruitment of other people.

The bad news for anyone promoting or even joining a scheme like GDN is that the Consumer Protection Act will punish them with a fine of up to P100,000 and up to five years in prison. I suggest you ignore any invitations from Global Dream Network and don’t waste your time, effort and money. You might also escape a huge fine and time in jail!

They broke my iPad!

I took my iPad to a local store to purchase a protective case. I was assisted by one lady, who took the iPad from me and went underneath one of the counters to fit a cover. She resurfaced after several minutes to tell me that my screen has cracked. She told me she was trying to fit it into the case, pressed hard and it cracked.

The owner claimed that the screen I have fitted was a fake, that’s why it cracked so easily. He said he will not replace my screen with an original unless I verify that the screen is indeed original. He asked that I go to an Apple Center, using my time, energy and resources to get a verification report and that would be the only way forward with him. He refused to come with me, he refused to allow the lady who broke the iPad to come with me. Let me state that this iPad has never had a screen replacement, this is the screen it came with.

I went back to the store and left the iPad there telling the lady that I do not want it anymore. The owner kept yelling, telling me that my iPad is fake and is from China and that he demands to see a receipt before moving any further.

Is this right? Should I prove with a receipt that the iPad is original in order to be assisted? I’m clueless to what I should do next. Where do I go? Who do I see? The owner of the store is unreasonable and I just want my iPad back. These events left me livid and upset.


I can easily understand how upset you are. I would be just as upset in your situation. This owner is being completely unreasonable and has broken almost all of the Consumer Protection Regulations. I think it’s best if we contact him and explain in very simple terms that he should stop making excuses, face up to his responsibilities and act like he cares. Or does he want to be famous?

Saturday, 8 June 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Do I really owe that much?

Hi Richard. Pls help me. About 6 years back I bought a laptop from Beares. When I got home I realised it had a crack on the screen that was there and I just thought it was a line inside only when I took it to be updated then was told it was a crack. I took it back and they took it to put new screen. I paid for few months and stopped bcos the laptop took too long to be returned. They told me I should continue paying but then I failed to do it. After several months the laptop came and when I went back to start paying I was told that the money was about P13 000. We argued and they agreed to correct it. I had a financial problem by then I didn't pay well then I negotiated for easy terms but they refused. One day I received a call from sheriffs that my debt now is P30 000 plus. I tried to talk to them but unfortunately Beares is no longer in Molepolole. Pls help me I wonder even if it's interest how can the amount double 4 times.


Unfortunately you’re another victim of hire purchase and the effect it has on people.

The first problem is the damage to the laptop. The fact that you didn’t report the damage to the store immediately will cause you a problem. How can you prove that the damage wasn’t caused by you after you took it home? It’s really important to inspect an item like this before you take it home so any damage caused while the store had it can be proved.

Then there was the second problem, a much worse one. You stopped paying your instalments. This is the most important lesson everyone should learn about hire purchase. You must never, regardless of the circumstances, stop paying your instalments. Even if the item you’re buying is damaged, stolen or away for repair, you must keep paying. I know it seems unreasonable and illogical but if you stop paying all of your rights under the hire purchase agreement disappear until you catch up again. The store can repossess the goods and apply penalties and interest to the amount you owe and eventually hand you over to a debt collector to recover the increasing amount you owe them.

I suggest that you contact their Head Office and see if you can negotiate a repayment plan that you can afford. It might also be worth asking for a complete breakdown of the amount you owe them because I’m not sure how a debt can have escalated as much as yours. A debt of over P30,000 for a laptop seems excessive to me. I can also contact them as well to get their feedback.

Can he sell my phone?

I have a problem with one of the phone repairs also selling the electronics. I took my Samsung j1 phone to them in Mahalapye mid January for screen refit. I went to his building to check on him on March but he wasn't around and April too still not around but yesterday I landed the business I found him I took my phone there but these man forced me to leave the phone the time I went to his workshop I asked him not to fix the phone before I come bringing myself with the money because um a student so yesterday I went to him my intention was to come and pick my phone and have it since I don't have the charged amount but the man was angry at me that I should set a deadline of coming to pick my phone cause he long waited for me and if I stay he will sell the phone to somebody else because this not the right way for having somebodies property for some month and he wasn't polite at all so what does these mean. Is there anyhow you can help me ..or send someone to help me or so?


I’m not sure I’m going to give you good news. He’s being unkind but I don’t think the store manager is wrong. You took your phone to him to be repaired and that was what he tried to do. It’s not his fault that you haven’t been able to pay him for the work he has done already. He’s also waited over four months for you to pick up the phone. I don’t imagine that’s cost him a lot of money but it has caused him some inconvenience.

Meanwhile, he IS being unkind by making threats about selling the phone. It still belongs to you and unless he has your agreement to do so he’s not entitled to sell your property. What I suggest is that you get in touch with him and ask him to be patient for a little longer. I’ll also contact him and see if he has a more reasonable side to his character. Let’s be hopeful!

Saturday, 1 June 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my laptop?

I need advice. My husband took our laptop to a certain man for fixing in December and now he is claiming that his friends or people he knows has it, He has said he will replace the laptop within 7 days which was the beginning of May and we are still waiting. There is no communication from him. Please help us. How best can we deal with this. We have his names from a copy of his ID but we do not know where he stays, Please advice.


I think this might be a matter for an organization with more power than us. I think this needs the services of our sisters and brothers in the blue uniforms. It needs the cops.

This “certain man” took your laptop for repair and for whatever reason he gave it to, or allowed it to be taken by some strangers, these “friends or people he knows”. Who they are and why they took your laptop doesn’t really matter, the simple fact is that this man took your property and gave it away to total strangers.

I suggest that you give this “certain man” an ultimatum. Tell him that he has fourteen days to either return your laptop, give you a replacement or give you the value of the device. Tell him that you will take legal action against him if he fails to do one of these things within the time you’ve allowed him. Make it clear that you’ve had enough of his excuses and that you demand a solution. Let him know that you mean business, that your patience is exhausted and that the time has come for him to fix this situation.

The other thing you should do is to send me his phone number. I think he and I need to have a conversation.

Should I take a refund?

I would like to seek guidance and assistance from your organization. I have placed an order with a shop named in Molapo crossing of which I was asked to pay deposit for my order to be processed after 2 weeks. After 2 weeks I call the shop I am told the following day until yesterday (which is 6 weeks after) I was given a different answer after I threatened the shop owner that am a consumer lawyer that's when am told that the material is finished to make the sleep wear and robe that I ordered. The unprofessionalism to communicate with clients by the shop is very appalling. I was hoping to support local but this lady seems to be a living off customers money. She gave me an option of a refund but I really wanted the products and am not sure she will return the money. Is there anyhow you can assist me? And please teach this shop customer service and consumer rights. I will be very grateful for your help.


I think you’ve been patient enough already. I think the time has come to walk away and learn the lesson that this company can’t be trusted to deliver the products they offer.

One of the most important lessons people in business need to learn is how to manage expectations. If you think it will take two weeks to deliver something then that should be true. It’s not complicated, it’s just about being open and honest with your customers. In fact, what’s even better is to exceed customer expectations and that’s actually quite an easy thing to do. It’s about telling “a good lie”. If you think it will take two weeks to deliver an item, tell your customer that it will take three weeks instead. That way, if you deliver it on time your customer will be delighted, thinking you’re the sort of person and company that beats deadlines. What’s more, if you run a little late you’ve already given yourself a breathing space and they’ll still be delighted that you were on time.

In your case your expectations have been totally mismanaged and I understand how frustrating that must be. My advice is simple. I think you should accept the offer of a refund but remind the store that Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations says that when a deal is cancelled a refund should be paid “promptly”. It doesn’t say exactly what “promptly” means but it certainly isn’t six weeks.