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.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay?

Please help me. I bought a wardrobe last year and the agreement was to pay for 12 months. I settled my account in December last year paying P2400. I was told that was my clearance amount. In February this year I got a call from the store that the cashier made a mistake by putting the other customer's money in my account and I have to pay for that mistake. I told them I can't do that because it's not my mistake. They kept quiet and today I received an email that I owe them P1019 to be paid end of this month. What do I do? Please help.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to be much help to you.

Yes, I understand that the store made a mistake. Their employee credited someone else’s payment into your account and that was certainly a mistake but it doesn’t alter the fact that you are committed to paying off your debt to the store.

I know it must seem frustrating but when you buy something on hire purchase or any other finance scheme both sides have obligations. The store has an obligation to charge you the right amount and you have an obligation to pay the right amount. Of course, either side might occasionally make mistakes but that doesn’t change the fundamental facts. When one party makes a mistake it’s their job to confess and to fix the problem they caused. If the store had overcharged you, I’m sure you would want them to own up and fix it, wouldn’t you?

It’s irritating but you, like anyone who owed money to a store, were obliged to make sure that the payments were made correctly and if you settle the debt, that the settlement fee was correct and complete.

Here’s another thing. What about the other person, the one whose payment was mistakenly credited to your account? Do you really want them to be in debt as a result of the store’s mistake?

Where’s my money?

On the 28 April I had interest in buying couches on high purchase at a shop in Francistown and I paid P3000 as a deposit. After processing all the documents and being told that I am eligible as I meet the requirements. After a few days of waiting for the couches to be delivered I called back and I found out that the documents were not approved yet first they told me that they are approved. I went back to the shop and requested for a refund. I was told and assured that my refund is being processed after being requested to provide the relevant information for the refund process and was told that it will only take 5 working days. Until this date I’m still waiting for my refund. I went there and they told me that the person who is processing the refund he is South Africa and they can only communicate with that person through email and currently the person is not responding to the emails. Until today I’m still waiting for the refund and I have waited enough for this refund it has been 16 days now waiting for the refund. Please assist me in the matter above. Thank you!

This is completely unacceptable. You have done nothing wrong and it’s the store who should be doing their best to fix this situation.

Firstly, they got it wrong when they took your money having offered you a hire purchase agreement, only later to change their mind. They should never have told you that you met the requirements, that was their first mistake.

Their second mistake was to be useless and incompetent. They willingly took your money without, I assume, the help of their manager but now they’re meant to refund you that manager suddenly becomes an essential component of their finance processes? How is that your fault?

I suggest that you tell the store that they took your money in minutes and although you don’t expect a refund within minutes, you have a right to expect a refund within days, not weeks. Tell them that Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations states that when a deal is cancelled, as this one so clearly has, a supplier is required to restore any deposit paid “promptly”. Not when the manager is back from South Africa, not when they have cash, not when they feel like it. “Promptly” is what it says. Is it that too difficult for them to understand?

Saturday, 18 May 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can’t they remove my name?

I and my husband we got a fridge on credit and we failed to pay on time and they suddenly took it from us. So we applied for a loan and the bank told us that our names are on ITC cos of the fridge. We settled and got the fridge back home. Now it's been a month and 3 weeks and the ITC have not yet cleared our names.

It's devastating cos we paid with the money from cash loans so there is a lot of interest there and we are left with nothing. The store said they did their part so the ITC people in S.A. are the one who a dealing with that, deleting our name in the system. Last week they said we should wait for 7 days and they will delete but it's been more than 7 days. We want to take a loan from the bank to do my building project and they a just waiting for us. Someone told me you will definitely help me.

I don’t think you’re going to be pleased with what I have to say.

The issue of the store registering you with a credit reference bureau should fix itself once TransUnion (formerly ITC) update their files. This can take a little while and normally gets done within 30 days of the store telling them that a debt has been settled. The problem is that stores aren’t always as quick to do this as they should be.

However, there’s a more important issue here. I think you urgently need to think carefully about your financial situation. You had problems paying your hire purchase agreement and then got into even more trouble by borrowing from microlenders to pay off that debt. And now you want to borrow money from a bank to pay off that debt? I accept that borrowing from a bank is FAR better from borrowing from a microlender and also far better that borrowing on hire purchase but I think you’re in a downward spiral of debt. I suggest that you speak to a debt counsellor who can advise you on the steps you should take to stabilize your finances. One thing that I suspect they will say is that a “building project” is not nearly as important as paying off debt.

One final point. You really won’t like this one. I couldn’t help notice from your Facebook profile that you are actively recruiting people into a scheme called Global Dream Network? How is being part of an illegal pyramid scheme going to help your finances? It’s only going to make your situation much, much worse, particularly when you consider that the penalty for promoting or even just joining a pyramid scheme is now a fine of up to P100,000 and up to five years in prison.

How can I make her pay?

Hello. I am asking for an advice. 2 years back I entered into a verbal agreement with a friend of mine. I entered in an agreement with a furniture store on her behalf with the agreement that she will pay off. Last month the store called to tell me the account is in arrears and I am being blacklisted. Is there any action I can take against this friend, because now she is avoiding me. Please help.

I’m no attorney but you don’t need to be one to realise that you’re in a mess. The only written agreement in this situation is the hire purchase agreement YOU signed with the furniture store and that commits YOU to make the payments, regardless of who actually possesses the item that the store provided. The fact that your friend has the goods doesn’t matter to the store. You are the only person they care about. Ok, I mean your money.

There’s something else you should remember about buying things on hire purchase. Neither you nor your friend own them, they still belong to the store until the final instalment has been paid. Until that moment, the store is entitled to repossess them if you fall behind with the payments you committed to making. They’re also entitled to register you and your debt with credit reference bureaux.

Obviously, what you should have done is signed a written agreement with your friend that described the arrangement you made with her. That way you might have been able to force her to help you pay off the debt that YOU have towards the furniture store. However, given that she has already failed to pay your debt to the store, do you think she either has the money or cares very much?

Saturday, 11 May 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can I take the tyres back?

How can you help me. I came to a tyre place to buy BF Goodrich tyres and the sales guy convinced me to buy Cooper tyres as he said they are better tyres only for one tyre to be damaged by a thorn and now they don’t want to take their set of tyres back and give me BF Goodrich. They are saying they can only take them back for P1000 each but I bought then for P2500 each. Even their employees are confirming that Cooper is junk. What can you do to help?

Firstly, I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with Cooper tires, at least not in my experience. I’ve had at least one complete set and I believe they’re still in use on the vehicle I bought them for.

Secondly, I’m not sure you have a right to demand that the tyre dealer replace the set you bought. Is there any real evidence that it was a problem with the tyre that caused it to be damaged? Surely it was the thorn you say that damaged the tyre and that could just as easily have happened if you’d chosen any manufacturer?

Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations is clear that consumers are entitled to goods that are “of merchantable quality” and from what you say, these tyres were that. Remember also that Section 13 (1) (c) of the Regulations is clear that when goods are second-hand, they can’t be sold as new. If the dealer was to take back the tyres they sold you they’re going to lose out financially, which is why they’re asking P1,000 per tyre.

Given the circumstances, I suggest it’s best to stick with the tyres you bought.

Where’s their money?

Several people contacted us recently with very similar questions. They cancelled what they called an insurance policy and didn’t get their money back. Have they been robbed?

There are two issues here, depending on what type of policy they actually bought. The first relates to insurance policies. With an insurance policy, you pay a premium, usually monthly, and in return the insurance company takes on the risk associated with the event you’re insuring against happening. Whether it’s a policy covering your vehicle, your house, your health or your life, the insurance company will pay the costs (or most of them) if something bad happens. The commonest type of policy most of us have is a funeral plan. If, during the term of the policy, one of the people named in the policy dies, the policy will pay the costs of their funeral. However, if you cancel a funeral plan, you don’t get your money back. That’s because you were paying for a service that you received during the period of the policy, even if you didn’t claim. Yes, even if you didn’t claim, you still got “cover” against the risk.

Then there are investment products. They’re a way of saving money for the future and usually they’re for the long-term investor and that makes them a bit more complicated. Many long-term investment plans involve payment of commission to the company that offers the product or the agent that sold it to you. However, in a policy that can last for ten or twenty years the agent doesn’t want to wait all that time for their income so they “front load” their earnings at the beginning of the policy period. In other words you pay the commission up front in the first couple of years. You only start to earn money after that period is concluded.

The problem happens if you cancel the policy during that early period. Because the commission is taken in that period, you might not have actually earned any money yet. You might take home very little or perhaps nothing at all.

We’ve heard about this second situations many times and it seems that sometimes the people selling these policies either neglect to mention the front-loading of the commission or they deliberately hide it. Even if they do mention it they often do so using language that customers don’t understand and the result is simple. People don’t realise that if they cancel their policy in the first few years they get little or nothing from it.

Clearly it’s time for the people selling these policies to be a lot more open about how these policies work and in particular about things like front-loading.

Meanwhile, the lesson for us all is to read and thoroughly understand any insurance or investment policy we buy, before we sign them, not afterwards.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Do I have any rights?

About 2 months back I bought a second hand car from a car dealer in Mogoditshane. The guy said the car was a sold as is. I requested to test drive and had a mechanic look at it and it all looked good. After paying for the car I was made to sign a document that its a buy as it is and that I can't hold the company accountable for any mechanical defects that I may notice afterwards. The dealer had assured me the car was in good condition and that I only need to service and it will be ok.

A day or two after the transaction I realised the car was unstable when it reaches speeds above 80km/h. I went back to the dealer and he advised I fix the suspension of the car and it will be well. So I went and did just that unfortunately even after that the car still shakes and swerves when doing above 80km/h speed. There was no way of noticing this when test driving because speed limits in the city and surrounding areas is 60km/h.

Is there anyway u can help?


I’m sorry but I don’t think I can give you any good news.

The car dealer did everything he could to protect himself and I suspect there’s little you do to make him change his position. He allowed you to take it for a test drive and you noticed no problems during that drive. I understand that the speed limits would have restricted you to relatively slow speeds but it might have been wise to ask to take it somewhere you could test it at higher speeds. I was lucky a few years ago when a dealer selling me a car insisted that we go for a drive on a highway and also off-road to prove how well the car drove. That’s a lesson we should all perhaps learn. A 2-minute drive at 60 km/h isn’t enough.

The dealer also allowed you to do something we always advise consumers to do, to get an independent mechanic to inspect the vehicle. It’s a shame that your mechanic wasn’t able to spot the problems the vehicle obviously had.

Finally, and this is probably the really bad news. you signed a document saying that the vehicle was sold “as is” and also that you wouldn’t hold the company accountable for any faults that emerged later. The only document relating to the sale appears to be one that says you’re waiving your rights.

I’m sorry I don’t have better news.

Can I get a different one?

In 2017 in June I bought a JVC home theater system to be paid in installments for 24 months. After I got the products within a month it had a problem of reducing its volume every time when in use. I reported it to the stores around August 2017, then I returned it back which then they take about 7 months without giving me a new one but all the time I was paying.

In 2018 around March they gave me another JVC home theater which later then gave me the same problems and then in January 2019 I returned the products. Remember this is the second one. When returning the second one I wrote a cover letter which I explained that I don't want the products anymore rather they should give me the different item but same price. In April 2019 they called me to come and get another JVC home theater system. Then I refuse but the management told me that since I'm not working and my sister is the one who pays my instalments I'm unable to take a new item of same price from the shop since they will need a pay slip which I don't have to open a new account for another item. So they told me that the only option I have since I'm not working is to get another JVC home theater system again which I'm afraid it will repeat the same problem. So I please need help to change this item to another item with same price. The reason why I refuse the same item is that it's guarantee it's 3 years.


This is complicated. Let’s begin with your rights. When you are given a product that is “not of merchantable quality” as required by Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations you have a right to one of the ‘three Rs’, a refund, repair or replacement. However, and this is important, it’s the store that decides which you receive. This store is with its rights to replace the item with an identical one. I know it’s frustrating that they keep going wrong but look on the bright side, they offer a three-year guarantee so you’ll continue to get support until next year.