Saturday, 24 September 2022

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

What can I do with my phone?

I bought a Samsung a72 from a store at the station in Gaborone with a warranty of 3 months. Within a short period of time the phone started freezing and showing pictures when making calls. Then I went back to the shop and they exchanged the phones. 2 weeks later the phone was flashing on screen and when I scroll down it will be scrolling forever without stopping until I switch it off.

Then I reported to the shop where I got it and the owner said there is nothing he can help me with unless I give it to them to fix which I refused telling them I can't get a brand new fixed phone. Right now it has a speaker problem and when I talk it either increase or decreases the volume.

I bought it at P6,200.00. I'm struggling to use it and I reported at Consumer Affairs but its dragging. Please help me sir.

Where shall I begin? Let's start with this nonsense about a 3-month warranty. That's not a real thing. Section 16 (2) of the Consumer Protection Act say that if goods are faulty a consumer:
"may return goods to a supplier in their merchantable or original state, within six months after the delivery of the goods".
So it's six months, not three. Don't they know this? How can any company that sells things in 2022 not know this?

Secondly, they clearly have a problem with the phones they're selling. I can understand one phone being faulty, these things occasionally happen, but two? That's too much to believe. There's something wrong. It might be a faulty batch of phones but these are high-end Samsung phones, so I find that hard to believe. It's more likely that they're second hand, perhaps refurbished or maybe even faulty phones that have been returned by customers overseas and then ended up being sold here as new. We all know this happens, don't we?

I'm also surprised by the price. I checked around and the price you paid is cheaper than in other stores. A lot cheaper. That's always suspicious.

I'll get in touch with the store and see if they'll see sense.

Is it a virus?

I bought a memory card from a store at Riverwalk on the 5th of September and on the 10th of September my phone reported SD card not inserted yet it was inserted and when I look at my files they were all deleted. I then took the matter to the manager who told me that I should come next day when the IT guy is around. The manager told another IT to check if indeed the card that I bought is the problem or my phone. Then she verified that the problem was the card, so she couldn't help me since she was not sure how to handle the issue. Then she said I should come the next day after she talked to another IT to help her. She even mentioned that the virus is now left on my phone they will have to clean it up and clean the memory card. Then to my surprise when I followed up today they told me a different story that they can't help me. I asked for a refund and they refused. As a result of all the above my phone cannot do voice notes, cannot even take any pictures, my phone cannot open any stickers sent to me please advise.

They need to take full responsibility for their fault. All I want is them to clean up my phone and the card as well like they promised or issue another card. I already lost important information on my phone because of their card.

I think you need to speak to a real expert, instead of the so-called IT people this store uses. It's highly unlikely that a brand new SD card would come with a virus on it, it must have come from somewhere else. Even though SD cards and memory sticks are very useful, they are very dangerous and are one of the most common ways computer viruses and malware spread from one device to another. I know several organisations that have now banned them completely because of the risks they pose. You only need one employee to download something dangerous alongside pirated music or movies and store it on such a device and before you know it an entire company can be a victim to a ransomware attack.

My suggestion would be to find someone or a company who is expert in these things and see what they can do to inspect your SD card and phone to see if they can be recovered.

And in future, please make sure you backup everything that's important to you.

Saturday, 17 September 2022

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my car?

Sir i need your help. In March, I signed a car contract with a car importer. I paid for the car of which they were supposed to import from Japan. The car was supposed to be delivered in 12 weeks from the time of payment. Even up to now they have not yet delivered the car.

I have made several attempts to get in touch with the director but he is not taking my calls and isn't responding to my messages. Your help will be highly appreciated. Thank you.

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that they're talking to me. I contacted them and they fairly quickly responded, confirming that there have been delays with your vehicle. They also suggested that they'd been in touch with you to discuss a solution.

Now here's the bad news. FIVE other people all contacted me in the same week, telling me identical stories about the same company. They all paid the company large amounts of money and are still waiting for their vehicles, months after they were promised. They were also being ignored and not given feedback.

Section 14 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that where:
"a supplier undertakes to perform any services for or on behalf of a consumer, the consumer has a right to … timely performance and completion of those services (and) timely notice of any unavoidable delay".
But we don't need a law to tell us that, do we? Isn't it just polite to tell people if something will be late, particularly a customer who has paid a great deal of money.

This company is clearly going through some difficulties and I hope they manage to honour their promises to refunds their customers.

Update: It's now SEVEN other people with the same problem. 
Further update: It's now NINE other people.

Where's my stuff?

I have a problem with a company. I ordered a vinyl cutter from them in February. I paid cash and to date since then they have been giving me excuses. They always say since May that the goods had arrived and its always another month and now I also wonder where are the goods?

All I want is what I ordered, and it seems like I was lied to for all those months. Last month I was told my goods have arrived and to come collect and when I got there there was a different story. I gave them the whole month to clear their goods and now we're on 2nd month.

Please how best can you advise me, because now I can't get what I ordered and to get a refund is also another month. Today I spoke to one of the owners and told me that isn't not his problem. How can you help me at least to recover my money back?

Again, I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that like the car importer above, this company is also talking to me. They told me that they responded to you and that "he asked to be refunded immediately and he was told refunds are not immediate they take 2-3 weeks."

Readers of The Voice should know that when I passed this message to you, you responded by saying "That's what exactly what they always say. Since May the goods had arrived and I've been told the same, now that it's been months.

We should both keep the pressure on them because clearly they're a bit confused about where the goods are, when they'll arrive and (I suspect) whether they really exist.

The bad news is the same as the reader who is still waiting for his car. In the last couple of weeks I've heard from several other readers who have exactly the same problem with the same company. They also seem to be going through some difficulties.

With both of these companies, I'm sure we all understand that times are tough but that doesn't excuse letting them down and then going silent on them, does it?

Saturday, 10 September 2022

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is my phone new?

I bought my iPhone XR from a store, they claimed it's a new phone, but the battery health wasn't 100%, also the model number according to Apple community is a refurbished phone. A month into using the phone it kept crashing. I had to send it back to them and they claimed it needed a software update, which wasn't true because I had already updated it. It also came with a damaged box and no charger. They gave me a separate charger with the claim that the phone doesn't come with a charger rather it's sold separately.

And they informed me that a cellphone shop in Square Mart is their supplier, and the supplier is not willing to assist with the query. They claim that it has been 8 months with the phone. I showed them the complaint I sent them about the phone being refurbished in January, hardly 3 weeks after buying it, So they are the ones who didn't escalate my issue well on time with their supplier, and that isn't my problem. So I told them I still demand a new phone and not a refurbishment. They said they'll call you so you help them hold their supplier responsible.

I think this store need to learn a few very simple lessons.

Firstly, selling a refurbished phone as new is illegal, contrary to Section 13 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act which says that a supplier must:
"inform a consumer that the goods sold are used goods by … placing a label on the goods that indicates that such goods are used goods (and) placing a notice on the invoice issued to a consumer".
Secondly, do they really think consumers can't identify a refurbished iPhone when they see it? It's simple. If you check the model number of an iPhone, the first letter describes its origin. If it starts with M it's new, F means refurbished and N, like in your case, means it was a replacement phone. Someone in the world returned their new iPhone to an Apple store and it was replaced with the phone you now have. And guess what? Most replacement phones have been refurbished.

Next, like you, I really don't care about their relationship with their supplier. That's their problem, not yours.

And finally, they don't get to tell me what to do. I'm not getting involved in any arguments with their supplier. They need to honour their obligations to you and to the law. Quickly.

Update: I contacted them and they said they'll contact you and see how best they can assist you.

Where's my loan?

Can you please assist? My husband applied for a personal loan with his bank. Before this application, a friend paid him back a certain amount she owed him and the payment was done through the bank. Now the lady who was assisting him at the bank says they cannot assist him with the loan he requested because he has to submit a formal written letter with a stamp and letterhead from the person who was paying him back. Mind you they were just friends assisting each other with money. Now the question is since they are just friends where should they get the letter with stamps and letterheads because it was not even company money or anything.

How is that possible and how can we go about it?

I haven't spoken to the bank but I think I know what's happening here. I think this is about the anti-money laundering laws that banks are required to follow. These AML rules say that banks need to have some knowledge about where the money we receive and give to other people comes from and what it's being used for. Most of the time it's simple. We get our salary, we pay our bills, we go shopping and occasionally we make large purchases. Those are easy for the bank to understand because they can see when we swipe what we're doing. However, payments they can't easily understand make them unhappy if they can't explain what's happening. The authorities are entitled to wonder whether the money is secretly funding terrorism, drug smuggling or the paying protection money to the mafia.

I suggest that we both speak to the bank and ask them how they can help you fix this problem.

Saturday, 3 September 2022

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Will they repair it?

I have a complaint about a shop in Main Mall where I bought an iPhone 6S Plus which is not working according to my expectations.

Ten days after the date of purchase the charger stopped working. I tried to reach out to them but they kept ignoring me, I bought it in Gaborone but I stay in Serowe so because of lack of money I couldn't go to Gaborone. In July it was less than a month after buying it, I went to them to tell them about the charger. They gave me another one and I went back to Serowe. Still in July the phone had a problem of vibration I told them via WhatsApp but they ignored it until it started switching off at 29% power. I also tried to reach but they kept ignoring me until I told them that I'm going to the police. A constable in Serowe connected us until they agreed to diagnose the phone and repair it so last week Monday I went there to give them the phone for diagnosis and repair. They suggested I come back with money to top and get another iPhone bigger than the one I'm using. I left my phone which was supposed to be back on Wednesday, I tried to communicate with them but ever since then they switched off their phone. I received my phone on Thursday morning but they are still not replying and they did not repair anything.

I think we need to escalate this situation and help you demand your rights.

Section 15 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that a consumer "has the right to receive goods which are of good quality, in good working order and free of defects". Clearly they failed this test.

Section 16 (2) of the Act say that a consumer "may return goods to a supplier in their merchantable or original state, within six months after the delivery of the goods … if the goods fail to satisfy the requirements and standards" required by the Act and then they must either repair the item, replace it or refund the consumer. They failed this test too.

Section 16 (4) of the Act It goes on to say that once something has been repaired, if "within three months the same problem recurs in the goods, the supplier shall … replace the goods or refund the consumer the amount paid by the consumer". Yet again, they're failing.

I'm not convinced this was a new phone when you bought it. I checked the serial number and the warranty on the phone expired in 2017, suggesting the phone was first activated in 2016. I think they're hiding something.

I contacted the store and all they could say was that you should return it to them again. They weren't able to offer anything better than that so let's get a bit more aggressive, don't you think?

My Jojo collapsed!

I engaged a compony for installation of a Jojo tank at my farm. I paid them the full amount and 2 days after the installation the structure collapsed owing to their poor workmanship. They then promised to buy the Jojo tank and re install the structure. It's been over a week since their promise and now they are not even taking my calls.

How can you help? Or do you suggest I move forward?

I suggest you DO move forward. By getting even.

I can't think of a better example of a failure by a supplier. Section 14 of the Consumer Protection Act says that when "a supplier undertakes to perform any services for or on behalf of a consumer, the consumer has a right to" they have a right to expect the supplier to do their job "in a manner and quality that consumers are reasonably entitled to expect".

A Jojo tank on a stand shouldn't fall over. It's not complicated, is it? And if it does fall over, the job of the supplier is just as simple to understand. Fix it.

I'll get in touch with the guy and try my best to explain these simple facts.

Sunday, 28 August 2022

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my tractor?

I followed a certain page on Facebook in June who claimed to be selling used tractors in Caledon in Western Cape in South Africa. I made an enquiry on their Whatsapp line and they responded that they do have it. 

A proforma invoice was sent to me on 11 July 2022 and they told me that tractor will be delivered within 3-4 days. On 12 July they confirmed that they have received my payment and will now process the export documentation. That was the last time I heard from them.

The amount of money I sent is R85,000 and this was done bank transfer using FNB online banking.

Now they do not read my Whatsapp chats or answer my calls.

Unfortunately I don't think I have any good news for you. The bad news is that your money is gone, never to be seen again. You've been scammed.

There's a company with the name you gave me that's registered in South Africa, but it isn't registered with the number shown on the invoice you sent. The real company's registration number is very different. This isn't just a simple mistake, this is a con. The genuine company is also registered at a very different address to one shown on the invoice.

Their Facebook page is also suspicious. They only offer a cell number and the web site they give hasn't been set up yet. Also, the domain they're using was only registered a year ago. The Facebook page offers some very good deals on tractors but these deals are way too good to be believed. I'm no expert on farm equipment but I checked the prices for similar equipment and the prices these guys offer are incredibly low.

This is yet another scam, just like many others we've seen before. These scams always offer normally expensive vehicles or equipment at remarkably cheap prices. In fact they're nothing more than Facebook pages that anyone can set up.

The lesson for us all is a simple one. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

How do I buy cryptocurrencies?

Hello Mr Harriman, I need to buy a certain crypto currency. By doing a bit of research I have heard it's going to go up. I have tried to buy it through some American crypto app but cannot download the apps because of our region. I have done my research, I just need the correct avenue to enable me to buy.

I know it's a gamble but I don't mind I just need an avenue to buy it because there are a lot of scammers. You probably don't believe in crypto, I understand, but just like stocks, if done right it can be lucrative. I just need help on how I can purchase the currency.

Can you recommend any crypto person or company to help me buy?

It's not that I don't "believe" in cryptocurrencies, it's just that they're incredibly risky. Their value can rise extremely quickly but it can also fall just as quickly. That's why they should never be seen an investments, just like any other currency. People don't "invest" in the Pula, US dollar, Euro or Yen, they trade them. Some people, a very small percentage, make money by doing this but the overwhelming majority either make no money or lose it. That's even more so with cryptocurrencies. For example, if someone had bought Bitcoin this time last year they would have lost 57% of the money they spent by now. With the smaller cryptocurrencies like the one you told me about the risks are even greater. Just remember that even though it's quite easy to buy a cryptocurrency, it can be very difficult to sell it again if the value drops. You might not find anyone foolish enough to buy it from you and you'll be stuck with an asset that's disappearing in front of you.

Then there's the scammers. The currency you mentioned appears to be legitimate but the whole industry is dominated by crooks, scammers and liars, all trying desperately to get your money.

My advice is simple. Investing your money in cryptocurrencies, like any other currency, is little more than gambling and you should treat it that way. If you've done your research and have some spare money you don't need and can afford to lose, then have a go. Otherwise, play safe.

Saturday, 20 August 2022

The Voce - Consumer's Voice

Where's my car?

Hello Richard. On June 15 I paid P68,000 to a South African car dealer through their agent in Botswana. I wanted a Nissan Dualis which they promised to deliver that same week. On the day when I was expecting to receive the car (20 June), they informed me that the truck that was carrying the cars to Botswana had a slight accident and unfortunately my car got damaged (they sent me photos of the damaged car). I then told then that I cannot take a car that has had an accident, so they promised that they will sort me out with another Dualis soon.

Days and weeks passed without any communication from them, unless if I am the one who questions on the progress. I am still waiting even now, and they are taking me from pillar to post. Every day is a new story. I have asked them for a refund since they cannot give me a new car, and still they are not helping.

None of them, the car dealer and the carrier company, wants to take responsibility. Please help.

I'm sure there are some honest people in the car import business but sometimes it's hard to find them.

I understand that when importing cars there are occasional accidents like the one that happened to your car. I also understand that in a situation like this, it's the job of the importer to find you're a new vehicle. So far, so good.

But something doesn't add up. If it only took 5 days last time, from the 15th to the 20th of June to ship your vehicle why is it taking so long this time? Why has it been two months? Perhaps they don't have the right vehicle available? If that's the case why can't they just tell you and let you decide what to do? Whatever the reason, I think it's time for a refund.

I suggest you contact them and give them a deadline. Tell them that if they don't refund you within a week you'll take legal action against them to recover your money. Tell them you'll also be contacting the Competition and Consumer Authority, Consumer Watchdog and The Voice. Between us we should have enough muscle.

Another second-hand car disaster

I bought a BMW X1 from a dealer in Mogoditshane on the 20th June. On the 31st July I experienced an engine problem and contacted the owner of the garage the next day only to be told that the warranty was only 7 days and that I had signed to agree with that since it's written on the receipt. I was never told about the 7 days before then.

Their salesman gave me the car with a dead left headlamp and promised to fit it but never did it and I had to pay someone P600 to fit it. I also had to buy myself the back wiper for P150 since they did not put it on. Also a pipe from the water tank started leaking and I had it replaced for another P600. On the 31st July while on a trip the car slowed itself down near Mahalapye and we stopped to observe what was the problem and there was some loud noise coming from the engine. We had a towing company transport the car on a truck to Mahalapye since it was the nearest place of safety. I paid P850 for the service.

Please help me get assistance.

Buying a second-hand car is an incredibly risky business. We've had hundreds of complaints over the years that were all very similar to yours and the challenge is always the same. Most second-hand car dealers offer almost no warranty on the cars they sell and customers often only discover this when they get a receipt, after having paid a huge amount of money. We could argue that explaining this after the consumer has paid isn't legal but that would be a job for attorneys.

The lesson is simple. Be VERY careful when buying a second-hand car. You should ALWAYS get a mechanic to inspect any car you're thinking of buying. Most of us have a friend or relative who knows more about cars that we do. Ask them to take a look. If you don't have someone, go to the garage that serviced your last car and ask if one of the mechanics wants to earn something extra. I promise you it will be worth a few hundred Pula or a crate of beer to get their expert advice. It might save you a fortune in the long run.

Also, get the dealer to put something in writing about the state of the car you're buying. Insist that they identify all the known problems before you hand over your money. If they refuse, ask yourself what they're hiding because they certainly can't be trusted with your money.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

How much was the engine?

Please advise. We went to a certain store in Mogoditshane to buy a car engine. Upon arrival we were told that the engine costs P9,800. After a discount we paid P8,700.

So then the manager told the shop assistant that the price has changed and was not updated on the system yet. He said the price is P14,000 and expected us to top up and pay the amount. We refused and requested a refund. He then changed and said it's fine we can take it. While they were preparing to give the engine to us another man came in seems like the owner and told us they will be making a loss if we took it at P8,700. They didn't want to give back our money and we ended up negotiating with them and taking it at P10,000.

I was just wondering if they are even allowed to do that to customers. I feel frustrated.

I think this store needs to think very carefully about how they advertise their products, in particular how they display their prices. You had a reasonable right to expect that the price displayed for the engine was the correct price and my view, as someone who isn't an attorney, just an amateur, is that once you paid the price and they accepted your money the engine was your property.

So maybe the store made a mistake when they displayed the price? Yes, that might be true, everyone makes mistakes sometimes. But the time to correct the mistake was before they took your money. And if they did make a mistake and don't want to sell you the item at the lower price, how dare they refuse you a refund? That's completely unacceptable.

You were very flexible and tolerant when you agreed to negotiate a higher price and I think the best thing is to put this behind you. Yes, you paid more than you originally thought but you paid a lot less than what the owner wanted you to.

Maybe you've done ok?

Where's my refund?

I wanted to track a lost phone and I searched numbers on Facebook to find someone to help me locate it. He said I should send P400. After a few hours I managed to find the phone and I called him to refund my money.

He said they had already cashed the money so I should wait until they close and he will ask his boss to ewallet which he didn't do. The following day he said we don't have enough in the till and he said he will do it when he goes for lunch. That's it, he stopped communicating with me. He's refusing to refund me and he's not picking my calls nor replying to my messages.

He said he is from a store which was a lie because when I called them they said they don't know him.

There are two issues here. Firstly, should he refund you? I think that depends on whether he did any work in the few hours after you sent him the P400. I suppose it's possible that in that time he was very busy doing his best to track your phone. It's possible you would have been very pleased to be told where your phone was. It's possible you would have thought it was value for money. However, I think it's up to him to demonstrate that he was a busy guy in that time. But that would mean he must answer his phone and anyone who refuses to answer for so long is hiding something.

The second thing is he's a liar. He claimed to be working for the company, he made excuses about talking to his boss and getting money from the till when in fact they've never heard of him. He was lying to you and you can't trust a liar.

This guy can't be trusted. I'll contact him and try to persuade him to do the right thing but you know something about liars? They lie. They can't be trusted. If that approach doesn't work I think you need to visit your local Police Station and suggest they consider laying a charge of Obtaining By False Pretence, contrary to Section 308 of the Penal Code. That should wake him up and help you get your money back.