Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Will Amway make you rich? No.

Amway's income disclosure statement for the United Kingdom for 2017 (which covers the period the period from September 2016 to August 2017) makes depressing reading for anyone considering joining Amway. It'll be even more depressing for those who've already joined.

During that period there were 36,874 "Retail Consultants" and "Certified Retail Consultants". However, only 33% of them actually earned any money.

The average monthly income for these "Retail Consultants" and "Certified Retail Consultants" was a mere £77, just over P1,000. Remember that this is income, not profit. It doesn't include the cost of getting that income, the airtime and data, transport, power and water bills. I suspect that to earn P1,000 you probably need spend roughly the same amount.

The 66 people who reached the level of "Business Consultant", those at the top of the Amway pyramid, made an average of just over £27,000, around P370,000. Again, that's income, not profit. That's fewer than one in 500 Amway business owners. For reference, average earnings in the UK were also about the same amount.

The simple and depressing truth is that you need to be one of a tiny minority of Amway business owners if you want to make any significant money. How likely is that?

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Consumer Alert - Global Dream Network

Global Dream Network describe their business model as:
"It's all about giving donation to another member and you shall receive donation in multiples"
They also say that the system is:
"a Person to Person, Direct Funding and Crowd Sharing Platform. It brings forth a new way of raising funds for various causes, whether it is for personal needs or a host of worthy causes, such as churches, schools, non-profit organizations, etc."
The truth is much simpler. It's a pyramid scheme. Their own imagery shows this.

Their web site and their distributors are very clear that there are no products, all recruits need to do is to recruit other people.

Global Dream Network does not appear to be a registered company in South Africa, despite seeming to operate using Rand. Their domain was only registered on 21st January 2019 but the registration details have been withheld.

Section 9 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2018 defines a pyramid scheme as a scheme “where participants in the scheme receive compensation derived primarily from their respective recruitment of other persons as participants”. It also says that “A person shall not directly or indirectly promote, or knowingly join, enter or participate, or cause any other person to promote, join, enter or participate in... a pyramid scheme”.

The penalty for promoting, even indirectly promoting or even just joining a pyramid scheme is “a fine not exceeding P100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to both.”

Global Dream Network is clearly a pyramid scheme and is therefore illegal in Botswana. Consumer Watchdog urges consumers not to waste their time, effort and money in such an illegal scheme.

Friday, 12 April 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my phone?

On January 3rd I took my phone to a repair shop to get the charging system fixed. They took my phone and gave me a receipt for the cost of repairing it. I was told to come back after 2 days. Upon going there, they still had not fixed it and said they would call when done. Indeed they called to say I should collect my phone it has been fixed. I get there and they hand me my phone and the glass back cover is shattered, they explained it was an accident.

Now I insert my sim card and the phone has no signal. I confront them about the issue and they start telling me about software issues and so forth, so they said they will take a look at it and will call when its sorted out. So I go and research on Google if its possible for it to be a software problem only to find out that if you put a part that isn’t the same type as the original the network won’t work. It only uses the specific coded parts. I then go and tell them what I had researched, to find out they also found that to be the issue. So they said they would have to order the part. After a month I return to check on my phone and they still haven’t got the correct part. On top of that the phone is now scratched and doesn’t power on anymore and permanently locked. They promised to fix all that and replace the cracked covers. A month later I returned again and still the same story and they admitted that they can no longer fix the Phone because its an original "high end" and doesn’t take counterfeit parts. Now I asked them what’s the way forward because I brought my phone in good working condition and now the phone is totally dead. They don’t have a response. What can I do?

What can you do? You can expect a new phone.

This so-called “repair shop” have mistreated you comprehensively and have also probably acted illegally by using counterfeit parts. I suggest that you contact the good people at the Consumer Protection Unit in the Ministry of Investment Trade and Industry and ask them to flex their muscles in the direction of this disreputable company. Suggest to them that this company has breached almost every one of the Consumer Protection Regulations, in particular those related to offering goods and services that are “of merchantable quality” and delivered “with reasonable care and skill”.

From what you say, it’s clear that this company shouldn’t be in the phone repairs business at all. They need to be in the ‘giving you a new phone’ business.

Can I get a refund?

Kindly assist on how I should go about my issue. I purchased a TV on the 20th of January this year, the TV gave me problems and I returned on the 23rd of March after I logged a case on the 16th of March.

They called me today 4th of April saying I have been credited and should come and choose another TV as they don't have a similar TV to replace my faulty one. From the TVs they have they don't have the same size of TV with the same price that I purchased the now faulty one. I opted to be refunded as they don't have a similar TV within the same price range. They are refusing refunding saying I should choose another one and the don't have one and also don't have money to top up for a similar size of TV.

When a store sells something that isn’t “of merchantable quality” we, as consumers, have a right to have that problem fixed and the solution must be one of the three R’s: a refund, a repair or a replacement. However, the current rules suggest that it’s up to the supplier to decide which of those they offer you. So the store is entitled to offer you a replacement TV of the same value to the one you bought.

However, in your case it’s more complicated. If they don’t have a TV that matches the price and functionality of the one you bought their options are simple. They can either offer you one that’s better than the original or they can refund you your money. Is that perhaps too complicated for them to understand?

We’ll get in touch with the store and see if we can explain it to them inn very simple language.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Have I been hacked?

I received an email saying that my account had been infected. It said that a hacker had exploited my email and had developed a virus that tracked pornographic web sites I visited and it says that they have videos of me watching pornography and of the sites it says I visited but this isn’t true, I haven’t visited those sites.

They say that I must send them $1,000 by Bitcoins and if I don’t they will send the videofile to all of my contacts including relatives and coworkers. What must I do?

What should you do? Absolutely nothing. I really mean that. Do nothing.

This is a scam, it’s not real. No hacker has infected your “account”, nobody has video recordings of you visiting pornographic web sites (the ones you didn’t actually visit), nobody is going to reveal anything to your relatives and co-workers because there’s nothing to reveal. This is just about extorting money from you. You can also be certain that if you did pay them the $1,000 they’re trying to blackmail from you, they would just continue to demand more and more from you until either you realised it was a scam or you ran out of money.

If it helps to reassure you, you should know that we also received exactly the same email as have many other people. These scammers rely on finding victims that have been viewing pornography online and have a guilty conscience about it. My advice is just to delete the email and do the same to any others like it that you might receive.

Meanwhile, this is perhaps a very good opportunity to make sure your computer is fully protected. Whatever operating system you use, turn on your firewall, make sure you install all the updates your computer suggests and install an antivirus package and then keep it up-to-date. And finally, be very careful what web sites you visit!

Have I won a tender?

I received an email below from a person who apparently works at PPADB.

This is my first time to receive such an email from "PPADB" with regards to tenders but I have a suspicion this email is not legitimate. The email doesn't seem to be genuine nor does the toll free number seem correct. There are 2 attachments and one of them has CONFIDENTIAL as a watermark.

Do you know of any other companies who have received emails claiming to be from PPADB?

Yes, I certainly DO know of other companies who have received emails like this apparently from PPADB. I’ve even received one myself.

This is another scam. The documents you were sent are certainly quite convincing until you look closely. Only then will you notice that the email address they give ends with “ppadb-bw.org” whereas the real PPADB domain is “ppadb.co.bw”. The bogus domain they’re using was only registered in June last year seemingly to someone in South Africa. It’s certainly not the real PPADB.

Based on the conversations I’ve had with people who have previously received emails like this, the way this scam will work is simple but clever. The documents they send give contact details for a supplies company in South Africa that they say will supply you with the goods they claim PPADB requires. But this fake company is part of the scam as well. Once you get in touch, they’ll do their best to seem like a legitimate company and will offer you the goods that PAPDB want but they’ll demand a deposit before they can ship them.

That’s what the scam is all about, that deposit you pay them. Rest assured that you will never see the goods or the deposit again.

This scam is so common that various government agencies, including PPADB has issued warnings to people stating that it’s a scam and that people who not respond to any tender requests until they’ve spoken to the procuring entity first to ensure that it’s genuine.

Please don’t be like the person I spoke to a few months ago who sent these scammers a deposit of P180,000, thinking they were going to get rich from a government tender. They’re now quite the opposite: poorer, sadder and deeply ashamed of their naivete.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my money?

I bought a second hand car in December 2018 from a certain garage in Mogoditshane and the car had a lot of faults which the owner had promised he will fix before I take the car. To my surprise he did nothing and the car almost killed me on my way to my home village.

I contacted him and he agreed that I should return the car and he will replace with another. I waited till end of January for a replacement to no avail. In mid February I told him now I need my money back. He gave me a cheque but the money in his account is not enough. He keeps postponing the days I need your help in making him pay.

You might not realise it but you’re actually quite lucky. Many second-hand car dealers would have washed their hands of this situation and told you that they weren’t going to help. At least this one has indicated that he’ll do the decent thing. That was probably because of the danger the car posed to you and the realisation that if you had been harmed his reputation and his business would have suffered.

The other good news is that you now have a very powerful case against him. Yes, he sold you a vehicle that wasn’t “of merchantable quality” as required by Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations but then he did something much, much worse. He gave you a dud cheque.

Section 23 of the National Clearance and Settlement Systems Act states that “Any person who knowingly draws or issues a cheque … against which there are no sufficient funds in his account at a financial institution on which the cheque or other payment instrument is drawn shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding P1500 or 3 months imprisonment or to both.”

Selling you a dodgy car will get him in trouble. The bounced cheque could get him jail time. I suggest you tell him this and see how quickly he responds. If he doesn’t then maybe we need to find someone with a uniform, handcuffs and the power of arrest?

Must I refund them?

I need your help, around January 30 2019 I saw an advert on face book from Trends Clothing. The account is in SA but they are saying they are based in the United States of America.

They were looking for agents from different countries, Botswana was amongst them, so I sent my CV they appointed me to be an agent for Botswana. They announced on Facebook that people can forward their orders to me, and people started placing orders and sent money to me so that I can deposit to Trends clothing account. About 20 people placed orders and gave me money. I deposited around $740 on different occasions. We were told that it takes 20 days for orders to arrive but up to now nothing has arrived. People are now mad at me.

Trends are now not responding to my emails and they blocked me on their page as well but the sad thing is that they are continuing to take money from people. I have also called agents from South Africa and Swaziland and they are experiencing the same. My worry is they are continuing to take money from people

In this case is it me who is supposed to refund them or Trends?

I contacted Trends Clothing in South Africa to ask them about your concerns and I was told by someone called Raylene that she had “forwarded the email to our legal and tracking department. They should be in contact with you within 2 business days”. At the time I wrote this, that was eleven days ago. Unless they’ve got in touch before you read this, it’s now more than two weeks, not two days. I think that tells us something about them, don’t you?

You are certainly not the only person who has been disappointed by Trends Clothing. I found lots of other complaints, many of them reporting experiences the same as yours. Money paid, no deliveries and then silence. The bad news is that unless you can persuade them to be patient or forgive you, the people who paid you for goods probably do deserve a refund from you, not Trends Clothing. It was you they paid, not the shady characters in South Africa. Meanwhile, I’ll keep up the pressure on the South Africans.

Friday, 22 March 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay?

Please assist me to understand this below.

I had a child in English medium school doing Standard 4 in 2018 and in December I wrote to the school to notify them that I will transfer my child in January 2019. I had paid all school fees for Standard 4 and in response they informed me that according to school policy is either I offer a term notice or pay one term school fees in lieu of notice. I had to transfer my child as soon as possible for personal reasons. My question is that normal to charge a notice penalty of the term fees even if my child had not started Standard 5 with the school? Please advise?

Unfortunately giving a term’s notice is completely normal practice with private schools. If you check the terms and conditions in the contract I assume you signed when you first enrolled your child at the school you’ll probably find a clause stating this. If you think about it, it’s not unreasonable. Your child was occupying a place that another child could have taken and unless the school has a waiting list for students it could easily take them a term or longer to find a replacement for your child. Think of it like the notice you must offer when you leave a rented property.

You could try to avoid this by not paying the notice period but there’s a real risk that the school will engage an attorney and chase you for the money. Do you really want to run the risk of a judgment against you?

It might be worth asking the school if they can’t be a little bit more flexible, but I wouldn’t be optimistic. They’ll be within their rights to insist that you honour the agreement you signed.

Is CBN a pyramid scheme?

It most certainly is, there’s no doubt about it and they’re actively seeking new recruits right now as you read this.

I saw one of their advertisements which said that with CBN “It’s simple to work with us”, and that recruits could get medical assistance, legal aid assistance, grocery vouchers, international trips and scholarships. The advertisements even state that the business is “recruitment only” and that there is “no selling products”.

I contacted one of the recruiters and she was very keen to tell me all about it.

She told me that “already there are people who have benefited from it” and that “it’s all about you putting an effort and moving”. I asked whether it was just about recruiting other people or selling products and she was honest. “Just recruiting my dear, no selling of products at all”. I asked her if that made CBN a pyramid scheme and she said “I would say that in a way, Yes it does. Network marketing is all about having more people under you so that you advance to higher stages.”

I then asked, “With CBN it’s just about building a pyramid?” She said “yes, with CBN its all about building a pyramid”.

At least she’s honest!

The bad news for the people promoting CBN and even those joining it is that the new Consumer Protection Act states very clearly that it’s illegal for anyone to promote or even to “knowingly join, enter or participate, or cause any other person to promote, join, enter or participate in… a pyramid scheme”. You might ask whether qualifies as a pyramid scheme under the new Act? It most certainly does. It defines a pyramid scheme as a business where “where participants in the scheme receive compensation derived primarily from their respective recruitment of other persons as participants”. Isn’t that exactly what CBN and its recruiters say?

You might also ask what the penalties might be. That’s the good part. The Act says that anyone convicted of promoting or joining a pyramid scheme “shall be liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding P100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to both.” I really like the idea of seeing some CBN recruiters being led away in handcuffs. I’d pay to see that, wouldn’t you?

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

World Ventures still won't make you any money

Despite claiming to offer "The Road to Fun, Freedom and Fulfilment", the truth is less positive.

The latest "Annual Income Disclosure Statement" from World Ventures makes very poor reading. "Very poor" is probably an appropriate phrase because that's what joining World Ventures is likely to make you.

The figures that refer to their US operation in 2016 show firstly that 79.95% of the people who've joined make nothing from World Ventures. NOTHING.

Of those that make something:
  • 76.5% of all the money earned goes to the top 5.4%.
  • 73.7% of the people earning money share just 10.2% of the income.
And average earnings? If you include just those people who make some money, the average earnings per year is a measly $355. If you include everyone in the scheme, it's a pitiful $30.

So, like all other pyramid and Multi-Level Marketing schemes, it's only the people at the top that make money and they only do so at the expense of the vast majority below them.