Saturday, 23 September 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is this laptop legit?

I recently bought a laptop on the 23rd of August, then returned it on Friday so they could install windows since it wasn't activated. When I followed up the progress they came up with another issue claiming that the hard drive is damaged. For them to give me my laptop back I need to contribute P500 to install the hard drive. The matter was reported to CCA in Main Mall on the 31st and they promised to get back to me within this week but they haven't called. I really need the laptop for I have presentations to prepare for within the following week.

This is incredibly suspicious. Almost all new laptops come with Windows already installed and operational. The only thing you need to do when you start it for the first time is to enter your personal details to register it with Microsoft. The most suspicious thing you wrote is that your version of Windows "wasn't activated". I think that probably means that the version of Windows on the laptop you bought had been pirated. That's illegal.

The second issue is that the hard drive was damaged. Again, that suggests to me that the laptop isn't new. It's almost unheard of for a new laptop to have a failed hard disc. I think it's obvious that you've been sold a second-hand laptop with pirated software.

I contacted the owner of the store and they weren't very helpful. Firstly they suggested this wasn't a big issue. But it is. They were also very unhappy that you'd contacted us and suggested they would contact the Police and demand an investigation into us for asking questions. Clearly they have something to hide.

I suggest we continue to apply pressure on the Competition and Consumer Authority because they have the power to compel this store to do the right thing. And also perhaps face punishment for selling used goods as new and installing pirated software. I wonder if the Police might also be interested? But not in us, in the store.

Do I deserve rewards?

Hello Mr Harriman. Please I need to ask something privately regarding cellphone network providers in Botswana. I have been a loyal customer using one number since 1998 (26 years) and that was the time when they were basically new as well. Ever since from my first cell phone to this date buying airtime, buying and using their internet for years and years. Don't I get to be appreciated somehow or be recognised for being a loyal customer be given at least a t-shirt or something? Are service providers not supposed to give out appreciation freebies?

Unfortunately not. Like you, I've been with my cellphone network almost since the day they started. I'm slightly scared to calculate how much I've paid them in total. And what have they given me in return? Just what I paid for. I've paid them every month and they've given me the ability to make calls, send messages and connect to the internet. But that's all I can demand from them. What I paid for.

As for extras, for freebies and gifts, those are just luxuries. And here's a secret they want you to overlook. Freebies aren't free. We pay for them. Every time we buy airtime a small percentage of that payment pays for any special offers, discounts and freebies they give us. You don't think they're charities, do you? It's not their money they're spending on the gifts, it's ours.

It's not just cellphone network providers that do things like this. Think about so-called store 'loyalty cards' as well. These cards don't reward loyalty, they try to create it. The occasional discounts they offer us are just tricks to persuade us to keep shopping with them rather than their competitors. The prices they charge include the cost of any rewards they offer us. They're also there to track us, to analyse how we spend our money and then to target advertising to us. If you're happy with this that's fine, but remember it's a choice we make, whether we participate or not.

Above all, remember this. Very few things in life are truly free.

Saturday, 16 September 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why can't I install apps?

Can you please assist me in this issue. I bought a Huawei Y70 phone in Maun for P3,000. After buying the phone I realized that it doesn't support other apps. I tried to download Showmax and Netflix but the phone was acting up. There is an error message saying the device does not support the app.

Upon realizing this issue I contacted the shop but the guy told me that he is able to install them but the issue is this phone is going to be a problem to me because they gave me 1 month warranty I wonder what will happen after one month if I want to install another app.

They are refusing to change the phone. So I was asking how best can the shop help me.

I think we need to teach this cellphone store some basic lessons about customer service and consumer rights, don't you?

Firstly, this is just rude. Maybe I'm old-fashioned but I think that if a store sells something that isn't working right, no matter what caused it, they owe the customer some courtesy and should try their best to help them fix the situation.

Perhaps more importantly I think suppliers should obey the law. As readers of The Voice will know by now, Section 16 (2) of the Consumer Protection Act says that a consumer:
"may return goods to a supplier in their merchantable or original state, within six months after the delivery of the goods, without penalty and at the supplier's risk and expense, if the goods fail to satisfy the requirements and standards (that the Act demands)"
It's not complicated. A cellphone should be able to make calls, send messages and load apps that are right for that type of phone. A quick Google search suggested that there's nothing that would prevent this model of phone loading these apps. However, I think it's the job of this store to help you fix this issue. If there's a reason why the apps can't be loaded they should have told you this before you spent your money. If it can run them they need to help you load them. Either way it's their job to help you.

I contacted the store but haven't had a reply yet. I won't give up.

Must I pay for a refund?

I'm not sure if this is the right platform but I need assistance on what to do with an electronics store in Airport Junction. I bought a phone there in May, an iPhone Pro Max 13, now the battery is already down to 92% which is unusual for a brand new phone.

I went to see them today and they said their warranty doesn't cover the battery and if I want a refund they will deduct 40% of the price paid, which is 6.6k.

So I told them that I'd just check in with you guys if that is the right way because honestly I believe I was sold a refurbished or second hand phone instead of a new one. Please advise.

I agree with you. Something here isn't right. You sent me a screenshot from the phone which shows that the Apple warranty has already expired which shouldn't be the case for a new phone bought in May. And then there's this nonsense about the battery not being covered by the warranty? That's not acceptable. Requiring you to pay to get a refund is also nonsense and I'm happy to tell them about Section 16 (2 ) of the Consumer Protection Act. I'll also tell them about Section 13 which forbids a supplier from selling used goods without being honest about it and Section 23 which says they can't force consumer to waive their rights, like the right to a working battery in their expensive cellphone.

Why is it that some cellphone stores are allowed to behave like these two? The bad news is it's because we allow it. We all need to be a lot more demanding.

Saturday, 9 September 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can I get my money back?

How long does it take to get your money back from an investment policy that you have cancelled? Does it require the same agent you signed up with?

I opened it in Maun through an agent in April 2022 and was effective starting 1 May. Maturity date is on 30 April 2047. I paid P350 for 3 months and ended it because my employment contract had ended. The agent told me that they will freeze my account for a year in good faith that I will find a job and continue but I never did. In April I communicated with him and he told me that in 4 days I will get my money. He told me I should have given him my account number and wait for 10 days. When I ask he always tells me that he is not in the office and will get back to me.

I contacted the insurance company. They haven't replied yet but I think I know what they'll say.

The problem is that you signed a 25-year investment policy and asked to cancel it after just 1 year. I suspect that if you read the small print of the policy document you'll find that you can't do this and expect your money back. This is partly because the insurance company was expecting 25 years of premiums and you've cancelled that agreement. It's also partly because of what is sometimes called 'front-loading'. When you sign a long-term investment policy the agent who sold it doesn't want to wait for 25 years to get their commission. They want it now. What happens is that their commission is paid in the first year or two of the policy. That means that your early premiums don't go into the policy, they go to the agent. It's only after a few years that you actually start to save money and earn interest. That's the 'front-loading'.

Let's wait to see what the insurance company says but I'm not optimistic that you'll get any money back. Meanwhile the insurance company needs to get some better agents. This one seems to know or care very little.

Where's my refund?

Please assist in reaching out to a drilling company for my refund. The company started off well with a site visit to my farm and did the point confirmation for the borehole as promised. They were to send me the report after deposit and this never came. On request for this the director kept saying he will share this but it never came.

He later gave me a confirmation date for the drill appointment which was the 21st Aug and on the 20th I reached out to him in order to prepare for the drilling but he never responded. Fast forward he missed the drilling dates and to this day he only reads my Whatsapp and doesn't respond. He is a tough person to reach on voice call and he always has excuses like the truck had a break down and they are trying to rectify. His last comms to me was a letter stating he will attend to my drilling before the end of September and am wondering if he feels I should wait for him while there are other guys who can assist sooner.

I sent him a letter demanding my refund because I no longer want to work with his company so I can seek help elsewhere and still he reads my emails and Whatsapps with no response.

I think you've done everything right so far. And he's done everything wrong. I'm sure we all understand that companies sometimes have problems, things that delay them but that's no excuse for going silent. Section 14 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that consumers are entitled to "timely performance and completion" of services they've paid for. It goes on to say that we're also entitled to "timely notice of any unavoidable delay". It's really very simple. Suppliers should keep to their promises and let us know if they can't.

In your case the company are being rude. They can't just tell you that they've picked a new date, they need to be negotiating with you. They need to be asking politely if they can come on a later date. They should be the ones offering you a refund, not you asking for it. I contacted the company but so far all I get is blue ticks. I'll keep you informed.

Update: The owner of the drilling company says I can "expect to hear from my lawyers". I look forward to it.

Saturday, 2 September 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay him?

On the 6th August around 9 am I parked by the shops and one guy came and parked behind me. When I wanted to go out there was no space and which resulted in me scratching his car below the plate number. The guy took me out of the scene while waiting for police because he was called by his friend who is a police officer. I was charged and paid the fine. Now the guy wants me to pay him money for insurance of even the damage of the car is not the one on his quotation.

Unfortunately I don't think I can give you any good news. This is what happens when the victim of a collision has insurance and the guilty party doesn't. The victim will have submitted an insurance claim and the insurance company will have paid the costs needed to repair the vehicle, except an amount they call the 'excess'. This is a relatively small amount the insured person pays towards the repair costs.

The bad news is that the guilty party isn't the one the insurance policy protects. That's just the policy holder, the one paying for it. Now the insurance company will want to get back the money they lost when they paid the repair costs and it's you they'll approach to get it from. The other bit of bad news is that the owner of the damaged vehicle is also entitled to demand their excess payment back from you.

However, it's only fair that the amounts they demand from you are reasonable and correct. I think you have a right to see the invoices from whatever repair shops they approached to make sure you're being charged a fair price for the repairs and not being exploited. If you like I can contact the insurance company for you.

Can I get anything back?

Kindly looking for help just recently bought a second hand car from a pawn shop in Maun. On Thursday afternoon then the following day which is Friday morning it started to show more problems mainly the engine and those problems were not mentioned and the guy knew about the problems. I was denied to test drive the car, they got me to pay P15k for car before leaving the yard.

I called them yesterday to asking for help but they say said they can't help me with anything. What I really wanted was for them to reduce the price of the car so that I can get the engine fixed or buy a second hand engine from the spare shops.

Please help me.

The first important point is that you can't trust these people. Anyone selling a car that doesn't allow you to test drive it has something to hide. It doesn't matter if it's an individual, a car dealer or a pawnshop, if they're too scared to let you inspect the vehicle they're keeping something from you. Something you need to know. The lesson is simple. Only ever buy a car you've test driven or which comes with a written, dated, signed guarantee that it's in working order.

The second important thing here is that these guys are regulated. I suggest that you contact both the Competition and Consumer Authority and NBFIRA, the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority who oversee pawn shops and ask both bodies to take a look at this company. I think NBFIRA will be particularly interested because the company name you gave me doesn't appear on their current list of pawn shops.

These guys seem more and more shady. It's time they explained themselves.

Saturday, 19 August 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my bed?

Greetings Mr Richard. I come to you with an issue which I believe you will help me.

I bought a bed from a store in Selebi Phikwe on 6 months instalment which I long finished but before I finished paying I reported a fault which I was promised to be given a new bed but I have not received any. Every time I go to the shop I'm promised that the bed will be by my house in less than a week but its never the case.

Kindly help me with this issue since its draining me. The manager no longer answers my calls and I'm always forced to knock off early or take leave to attend the issue without results.

I think you've done exactly the right thing so far. Within the repayment period you reported a fault with the product you were buying. That's an incredibly important thing to do. Many people fail to do that, they fail to report a problem as soon as it occurs. Then they often find that the warranty has expired and they're left without any rights.

The problem is that some stores decide to ignore a complaint within the warranty period and hope the customer will forget. As soon as the warranty expires they claim it's too late. Luckily you're one of the smarter consumers.

I messaged the store manager and his response was predictable. Blue ticks but no response. I then emailed the Country Manager who has a very good history dealing with consumer issues. I suspect he'll be much more responsive. My recommendation to the store manager is to listen to what the Country Manager says and learn some lessons from him. If you want to keep your job.

Where's my phone?

I really need your help regarding a cellphone store. I bought a Samsung A14 on the 19th July and on Friday 21st upon setting the phone up with my passwords, fingerprint and face id the phone started acting up, the password, fingerprint and face id would not work at times like at one moment it will work and the next moment it will not. I took the phone back to the shop because I really needed that phone for work and now my work was at stake. They said it was the sim card and they did what they know best and I took the phone since I was in a hurry and really needed it for work. When I complained they said it was sealed but they are the ones who opened the box and gave me the phone. So all these is the reason why I asked for a refund or a new phone, it wasn't even unlocking when I was at their shop. I even provided my passwords to them as they claimed I might have forgotten it or at least how about my face id and fingerprint, did I forget them too? They refused to help me and they kept the phone till now it's been 3 weeks. I asked for the manager, made several calls, texted them on WhatsApp several times but they are ignoring my messages. I even went there and I didn't get any help, they don't even bother to keep me updated but they are keeping the phone and my money since Sunday the 23rd of July.

I have a confession to make. Your comment "my face id and fingerprint, did I forget them too?" made me laugh out loud. How dim-witted are the people at this store?

I think this store needs an urgent lesson on the Consumer Protection Act, basic customer service and common sense. They've let you down completely and now they're making up stories and ignoring you?

It's simply not good enough. I contacted the owner of the store and he promised action. Let's hope.

Saturday, 12 August 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my phone?

Hi Richard! I need help with getting my refund. I purchased my sister an iPhone XS on June 8th in Palapye. The phone started experiencing various problems a few days after the purchase. It would just shut off when in use but with a high battery percentage level, and after turning on, it would refuse to connect to WiFi. Additionally, the phone battery would die at 20%. After that, we returned it to the shop in Palapye so they could fix it. They then sent the phone to their main branch in Gaborone for repair, they had it for 2 weeks. My sister was extremely inconvenienced by this because she had nothing to use for weeks.

The same issues persisted after it had been repaired. Additionally, it returned with a battery life warning that wasn't present when it left for repair. The only thing that had changed is that battery would now die at 5% rather than 20%.

When we returned it to the Palapye shop, they advised us that a technician in Gaborone would need to fix it once more. On July 23, 2023, we took the phone to the store at Rail Park, we were told to return on July 24, since the technicians were not available. On the 24th, I informed the store manager that I no longer wanted the phone serviced. She then informed her boss, who informed her that he cannot issue a refund because the phone has a scratch. Their boss refused to meet with me so that he could completely explain why he is unable to issue a refund. He was not even in the store, instead, he was talking to his manager in the parking lot.

Enough is enough. I respect your patience but now it's time for action. As readers of The Voice will know, Section 15 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that consumers are entitled "to receive goods which are of good quality, in good working order and free of defects." Section 16 (2) goes on to say that a consumer can return goods that are faulty within 6 months and receive one of the three 'R's: a repair, a replacement or a refund. However, it's up to the store to decide which they offer. The store can decide to repair the faulty item instead of immediately offering you a replacement or a refund. Importantly for you, it says very clearly that if a supplier repairs a faulty item and the same problem happens again within the next 3 months, they lose the right to repair it again. At that stage they can only offer us a replacement or a refund. Maybe it's time to remind the store about this?

Where's my refund?

I went to a shop in Palapye on 24th July. I brought my shoe for resizing, what surprised me was that you pay before your shoes can be attended. I asked them why is it so they told me is the policy of the shop. Then I asked her, what if I'm not satisfied with your service, they said I will be refunded. I paid that P100 cash. I was told the service will take 5 days, so they will call me when they are done.

I waited for the whole week, no call. Then on Saturday 29th I went to the shop to check on the progress. I was surprised to be told that they are still waiting for the machine for resizing from Gaborone, something I wasn't told at first. As I was on my way to SA I decided to take my shoes and ask for refund. I was told I will be refunded, up to today there's no refund of P100. I called again today, to my surprise I'm told the refund takes a month to be done and its only done in Gabs.

I know we can't expect miracles from stores but there are certain things we have a right to expect. One thing is "timely performance and completion" of services we pay for. Section 14 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that. It's very simple, this store should have told you how long your shoe resizing should take. If there were delays then they should have told you that as well because the Act says they must give you "timely notice of any unavoidable delay".

I contacted the store. They were very apologetic and processed the refund immediately. I just wish that more stores reacted so quickly.

Saturday, 5 August 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must we be interviewed?

(This message came from a lady who had recently lost her husband. After lengthy battles with her medical aid, her husband finally passed away a few months ago. Then she tried to obtain benefits from his pension scheme.)

With regards to insurance policies. Must a tax clearance for the deceased be submitted before the insurance is paid out to the family? After the insurance company had me running around for over 2 months with different documents all the time changing requirements. I eventually managed to submit and then they come back with this. Now they want to interview me and our daughter? She is in university overseas. She is also going to Europe in a couple of weeks so for her to come to Gabs is not going to happen until December. When my husband completed the forms he left 50% to each of us, why now must we prove that we need the money?

Firstly, I'm so sorry for your loss and for the struggles you and other bereaved relatives must endure after a tragic loss. I know insurance companies have procedures to follow but they often make a difficult situation even more difficult.

Yes, I believe that BURS insist that pension providers check whether someone owes tax before they pay out. That's the simple question. The second question is more complicated. Does the insurance company really need to interview you and your daughter before making the payments? I didn't know the answer to this but it struck me as surprising. So rather than guessing I asked a former colleague who's an expert. This is what he said:
"It's normal. The Retirement Funds Act allow members and pensioners to nominate Dependants as a guide to the Trustees. However, it also allows to Trustees to vary the content of any nomination form if there is any information that the Trustees come across that warrants that.

Members and dependants get upset when they hear that but it's actually designed to protect dependants. The examples I always give are when a young couple with 1 child nominate their child as the sole dependant and they go on to have other kids but forget to update the forms (which is very common). If both of them pass away, it would not be fair to leave out the other sibling dependants simply because the parents forgot to update their nomination forms.

Another example is where couple gets divorced and move on to start new families. If one of them passes away (the lady for instance) leaving small kids behind and forgets to update their form to remove the ex-husband, it would not be right to simply pay it over to the gent who will go on a holiday with his new wife and kids. These are very real (and actual) examples but more often than not, the benefits will be paid according to the nomination form that was completed.

Where no nomination form was completed the simplest thing is to get a family resolution certified by any Tribal Authority, District Commissioner etc, confirming who the dependants are."
Can he recover my money?

A few days ago I tried to trade through another person I met on Facebook. Initially I deposited P2,000 then P2,700 through Yellowcard. Later he changed the story to say the returns made after trading are too high, around P105,000 and needs around P9,000 to download software. I stopped trading.

Yesterday I discovered a page on Facebook called Yellow Card Recovery and they promised to follow up my issue cos I felt like the other guy wanted to scam me. I received email from the recovery page and he promised to recover my money. I was humbly asking if you can assist me to confirm if this is genuine. Thank you in advance.

I'm really sorry to tell you this but I suspect you know it already. You've been scammed and you're about to be scammed again. The first guy was obviously lying when he promised you P105,000 but this second guy who has offered to recover your original P4,700 is also lying to you. There is no way to recover money from scammers. They're criminals, no different to muggers in the street. Like muggers, they don't offer refunds.