Saturday, 14 September 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my lay-bye?

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

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


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

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

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

Where are my forex profits?

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


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

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

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

Saturday, 7 September 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

He’s threatened me with the police!

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


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

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

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

Must my husband pay?

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



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

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

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

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

Saturday, 31 August 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

I want my refund!

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


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

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

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

I want my refund as well!

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

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

I want mediation to be refunded my deposit.


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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 24 August 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my refund?

Good day.

Sometime around August last year, a member of my church went around selling tickets for a concert that was to be hosted in Gaborone. My two friends and I bought tickets for P250 each. That concert did not happen last year and we were told that they were waiting for the artist to get her visa to travel to Botswana and that the concert would happen in March this year. This did not happen either and we have been trying to recover our money to no avail. The person we paid keeps telling us that the organisers let her down and she has been promising to refund us the money but not keeping those promises. What is our recourse in this situation? Thank you for your assistance.

"Frustrated"


I can understand why you call yourself “frustrated”. I would be too in your position.

In theory, the situation is quite simple. You paid this woman for the tickets and if she can’t provide them then you deserve a refund. Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Act says that when a transaction is “rescinded, cancelled, or otherwise terminated”, the supplier must “promptly restore” any deposit or payment made. Note that the law says ”promptly”. It doesn’t say exactly how quickly that should be because every case is different but I think we all know when something is NOT prompt. From March to today, that’s five months. That is certainly NOT prompt. I think we can all agree on that.

I contacted the lady you paid for the tickets and she’s been just as unhelpful to me. She’s blaming other people as well although my detective work suggest she might be more closely connected to the organisers than she lets on. She’s given me the contact details of these other people but they don’t seem interested in responding either. Curiously, I contacted the same people before regarding the same failed event. You clearly weren’t their only victim. It seems to be a habit of theirs.

I suggest that you contact her and tell her that you’ll be approaching the Small Claims Court for an order against her for the money you spent. I’ll contact them as well just so they know what’s coming. Maybe that threat will encourage them to do the right thing? Eventually.

I feel robbed!

I need clarity on something. There was an advertisement by a furniture stores for a bed which indicated that the instalment was P209 however when I got to the shop it was a different figure altogether (P349). I asked the lady in the shop about it but she said they made a mistake, I took the bed because I wanted it but I need to understand if the reason I was given was fair enough. I feel robbed. What can I do so that other consumers cannot fall into the same trap?


I’m a little confused.

Firstly, let’s talk about the incorrect figure the store advertised. Technically, the store broke Section 13 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations by selling something not as it was "advertised or represented". They advertised instalments of P209 and that’s what they should have been. However, we all sometimes make mistakes. I don’t think we can reasonably expect the store, assuming the mistake was genuine, to lose 40% of the money they wanted to make from your purchase.

The problem you now face is the you entered voluntarily into an agreement and you’re now committed to it. Personally, I think it was a mistake to sign it if the difference was so great. Unfortunately, you agreed to be a victim of their mistake.

As for preventing other consumers from falling into the same trap? I think they just need to read and understand every document they’re asked to sign, BEFORE they sign them. They also need to think a lot more carefully before signing ANY hire purchase agreement.

I also think that consumers need to educate themselves, or to be educated on these issues. Watch the media, you might see us doing exactly that very soon!

Saturday, 17 August 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why are they charging me?

I would like to request your help with a recurring problem that I have with my bank. In a nutshell, money is mysteriously taken from my account and they are unable to provide me with a reasonable explanation why. Since November last year 2018 an amount of P650 was deducted monthly from my account will out my consent. When I protested to my bank, I was told that a furniture store was the one deducting my money.

The strange thing is that I have never bought anything from them ever and I wanted an explanation from my bank as to who authorized them to take money from my account without my knowledge. They failed to give me a satisfactory answer, and instead resorted to using big accounting jargon to make it appear complicated to the lay man that I am. Both would point a finger at each other and I was stuck running between them. Eventually, I had to close down the account and open a new account to solve this problem. However, I was shocked when yet again another deduction happened on the 26th of July and this time the money deducted was P900.

I don't earn much and struggle to make ends meet even without the deductions. You can imagine how hard it is to explain to people such as my landlord. I feel like the bank is taking me for granted because I have no one to stand up for me nor can i afford to seek professional help. Please help me by being that voice.


This is outrageous and completely indefensible.

I’ve already contacted the bank on your behalf asking them to investigate. Surely somewhere in their records they have the original documentation, the forms that someone completed to set up the monthly deductions? You have a right to discover whether something went wrong and how your account was used to pay either someone else’s debt or a non-existent one.

If it’s shown that this was a mistake you’ll also deserve a complete refund of the money you paid. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear from the bank.

Why won’t they pay him?

Please help my dad. He got a funeral plan in February and paid upfront up to end of August then he covered his niece then last week his niece passed away. He went to them on Friday asking for the claim to bury his niece. Firstly they said they are still assessing if they can give him the money and he should come back on Friday. Then on Friday they told him they closed the account and there is no how they can help him and now went back frustrated. Now they say they can't help him, he can't claim. He doesn't know how to read or write.


Firstly, my condolences on the loss of your father.

I contacted the insurance company and they looked at your father’s policy and the news isn’t good. The policy your father bought has a 6-month waiting period before the customer can make a claim. That’s quite a common thing with many insurance products and medical aid schemes. In your father’s case he’d only had the policy for 5½ months so hadn’t quite made it to the time when he could claim.

Then there’s more. Even though your father was the person who paid for the policy, the insurance company tell me that it was in his niece’s name. I suspect that’s because your father wasn’t able to read or write? Maybe he asked her to be the signatory? Whatever the reason, now that she’s passed on, the named policyholder is no longer around and that’s why the policy has now been cancelled.

Meanwhile, here’s a bigger question. How exactly did an insurance company sell this policy to someone disabled by their inability to read and therefore fully understand the policy they were getting? What efforts did the salespeople make to ensure that their client fully understand it? Did they explain the waiting period? Did they explain the consequences of putting the policy in the niece’s name rather than your father’s?

Section 17 (1) (g) of the Consumer Protection Regulations forbids a supplier from taking advantage of a consumer's because “of disability, illiteracy or inability to understand the language of an agreement”. Section 6 (2) of the new Consumer Protection Act of 2018 does the same thing, outlawing them from exploiting consumers due to their “physical or mental disability, literacy, inability to understand the language of an agreement or contract”. People such as your father who have the misfortune not to be able to read or write deserve to have that respected. Is that too much to ask?

Saturday, 10 August 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my insurance?

I would like to know the proper channel to follow when complaining about the insurance company that does not want to pay the promised benefits while claiming.

In my case the was is a portion in the brochure that say the we shall claim the following with no extra cost being cow worth P5,000. P3,000 worth of grocery and P5,000 for tombstone. This same brochure is still being advertised as we speak. Upon claiming we received only money for burial and the three benefits we were told we will receive only one item. They said the policy holder was suppose to pay P3 extra to qualify and therefore we won’t receive any. We requested for the policy documents and we were told it was verbal since they were dealing with group and members of the said group are largely illiterate to understand any obligation from the insurance company. Kindly advise me of which step to take if advisable to do so since the insurance company always say they will come back to us but are taking forever now. My fear is the same brochure is being given to people as they sell their products.

This is unacceptable. I wonder if this insurance company know how many rules they’ve broken?

To begin with they’ve misrepresented their product by not explaining that the policyholder needed to pay extra for the benefits they were offered. Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations forbids a supplier from selling a product that “does not match any sample or description given to the consumer”. Section 13 (1) (e) says they must offer products and services “as advertised or represented”. Section 17 (1) (g) outlaws exploiting a consumer’s “illiteracy or inability to understand the language of an agreement”. I could go on.

I don’t know how long ago you took this policy but earlier this year, NBFIRA, the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority published their new Policyholder Protection Rules that cover the sale and delivery of insurance products. These rules say that a person or company selling an insurance policy must disclose “any special terms and conditions, exclusions, waiting periods, loadings, penalties, excesses, restrictions or circumstances in which benefits will not be provided”. They also say that when any advice or information is offered verbally, that advice must be put in writing within 30 days.

I think you need to speak to NBFIRA as soon as possible and get their advice. They have the power and the willingness to use it.

Where’s my medical aid?

Hello Richard. Please help me with my medical aid. In January 2019 they closed my account even though my payments were up to date. I only noticed this when I was trying to do my payments end of January. Apparently the account was closed around September 2018 without my knowledge. I've been sending them emails asking them to tell me how long was my account closed up until Jan 2019 and haven't got anything yet. They only managed to reactive it in March 2019 and they have been deducting my monthly payments directly from my account since March. I haven't balanced the December and January fees yet (the one they refused to take back in January after they closed my account for no reason and without letting me know). Last week I received a message that my account has been suspended due to non payment of December and January fees. I send them an email (sent it to 5 people who are aware of my case) but haven't got any response from any of them. Today I received another message that my account has been terminated.


We all make mistakes. None of us are perfect because we’re human, not robots.

However, I’m a little less tolerant of organisations that make mistakes. Yes, they’ll happen occasionally but why do they happen repeatedly and why do they sometimes become so complicated? Why also, when mistakes happen, don’t they get fixed as soon as possible?

Your medical aid company had several opportunities to look into your situation and fix it. There’s really no excuse for taking so long to fix your problem.

The good news is that I contacted senior managers at your medical aid company and they promised to intervene and do their best to sort things out, unlike their more junior staff.

UPDATE: The senior managers got back to me, saying that they contacted the customer, apologized and have agreed a payment plan that allows him to catch up and get back to normal. Finally!

Saturday, 3 August 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must she have the receipt?

Please assist us here. I am writing this on behalf of my little sister who has had a bad experience with store in Main Mall.

She purchased a laptop charger and was not issued a receipt, the assumption was that the cashier forgot to give it her at the time nonetheless when she tried to use the charger it did not work. So she's gone back to the shop and was told she would not be assisted because there was no receipt. However, she knew who she had dealt with and at the time of going back to the shop was told the cashier man was not in and should check again a day later. A day later she went back and was told he had been fired.

She talked to the store owner who was adamant that he would not refund her because of the no receipt. Our contention is that there are other store employees that verified that she had bought at the shop and confirmed this to the owner and he still wouldn't help. She's seeking a refund as the charger doesn't work and would want to go look for another one elsewhere.

Can you help us with this matter?


Unfortunately, I’ve heard of this situation many times before and it’s always very frustrating. Usually it’s when people have misplaced or thrown away their receipt that they have difficulties, not like your sister’s case when she was never given one. I might have had some sympathy for stores in the past but in 2019, surely almost all stores use an electronic till when they sell something? Surely their till, or the computer system behind it has a record of the sales they made? If they don’t, how do they keep track of the VAT they owe BURS? How do they keep records to show the owner the profits they’re making?

I simply don’t believe that the store can’ verify that a particular item was sold on a particular date and a particular time, even if they can’t say who bought it. In your sister’s case, there are even witnesses who confirm that it was your sister who bought the charger. I think it’s safe to assume that the store owner is not a very nice person. Or not a very good businessman. Or both.

I suggest that you visit the store and explain that Section 17 (1) (d) of the Consumer Protection Regulations says that the store is not allowed to cause “a probability of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the legal rights, obligations, or remedies of a party to a transaction”. See if that has any effect?

UPDATE: It wasn’t necessary. I was told that “after getting back to them and threatening to engage your services the store manager has agreed to pay her back and has collected the refund and given back the laptop charger.” Good news but why do some stores make life so difficult?

Where’s my refund?

Please assist if you can. My girlfriend and I booked with a guest house at Kazungula. We were requested to pay 50% up front in order to reserve our 3 night stay. We send proof of payment which was never acknowledged. When requesting for acknowledgment the manager got angry and cancelled our reservation and promised a refund. Even up to now he hasn’t refunded us. This was for the 14-17th July.


I’m not sure why some people in business allow their bad temper to show itself to their customers. Frankly, I don’t care whether this or any other business owner, manager or employee is having a hard day, argued with their partner this morning or had a bad night’s sleep. I know it might seem hard for them, but I expect them to offer a service that is as good as it can always be, regardless of their mood.

I’ll contact the owner and see if he can be a little bit more even-tempered.

UPDATE: He responded and assured me that you will get your refund before Wednesday of this week.