Friday 28 April 2006

Caveat emptor

Yes, I know it’s usually just lawyers and academics that still insist on speaking in Latin but there are certain Latin phrases that just summarise a point very nicely.

Caveat emptor means “Let the buyer beware”. It expresses rather well one of the fundamental legal points that keeps on cropping up in all the work we do with our readers and listeners.

Beware. It’s up to YOU to look after yourself. If you buy something, if you sign something, if you accept something then it’s up to YOU to make sure any problems get fixed.

Face facts. Very few suppliers will come back to you after you’ve bought something to check that everything’s OK. It’s up to you to raise an issue if it emerges. Very few suppliers will do what decent restaurants do, coming round halfway through your meal saying “Is everything OK with your meal?” When was the last time a second-hand car showroom called you the day after you bought a car to see if it was still OK?

We’ve had a couple of situations over the last few weeks when this phrase kept going through our heads. Curiously several of these are to do with so-called training institutions. Our impression is that there’s something really rather suspicious about a large proportion of the training suppliers we have here.

We heard for instance about the so-called Gaborone University College of Law. These people distribute a leaflet that advertises what they call their “Introduction to Law Course”. The leaflet states that this course will “prepare students for admission into the University of London Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree and into other programmes offered in other universities in England or elsewhere in the world”.

The course apparently includes “The Legal System, Criminal Law and Law of Contract”.

Mmm impressive eh?

Well we probably need to pass this by our attorneys before we comment on the content of the course but doesn’t the UK have a distinctly different legal system compared to ours? Isn’t criminal law in the UK quite different in England compared to Botswana? Which do they teach? Does what they include relate to what is taught in Universities in the USA, South Africa and Australia as well?

Note how carefully they have phrased their leaflet. No guarantees are made. They just offer to “prepare students for admission”. It doesn’t say “qualify students for admission” or “entitle students for admission”.

Another curious thing. When one of our mystery shoppers went to visit them (they are based above a garage) they told her that she should get her Form 5 certificates certified by the British Council. Now why would they insist on that do you think? Maybe to lend themselves some credibility? When we spoke to the British Council they told us that in fact they want nothing to do with this bunch. In fact they wrote to them over a year ago insisting that they stop even mentioning the British Council at all.

Isn’t is also a little strange that they suggest that with Form 5 certificates alone you can get into a British University? That’s probably best described as “ambitious”…

Oh yes, one other thing. The leaflet includes the three magic words: “Registered with BOTA”. Funny though that their name isn’t included in the list of approved training institutions published by BOTA on their website. Maybe that’s an oversight? We haven’t heard back yet from BOTA but we’ll let you know what they say!

The total cost of this course? P1,500, not including a non-refundable registration fee of P100.

Now we would never suggest that our listeners and readers shouldn’t choose to take this course. It’s absolutely up to you. Your choice entirely. We’re very much in favour of people taking every opportunity to better themselves, to learn more and to develop new skills.

But just remember that bit of Latin. Caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware.

And something else we’ve said before. Something seems too good to be true? Then is almost certainly is.

Celebrating Government

Great news since last week when we asked for people to nominate service stars from within Government! Within hours we heard from someone who wanted to celebrate Millicent Qampi at the Princess Marina Hospital in Gaborone. Apparently she strode into the Emergency Room during a busy period, took charge, explained how things worked to everyone in both Setswana and English and left everyone feeling as confident and content as anyone can be in the ER. We’ll be writing to the Minister of Health, the Permanent Secretary and the Hospital Manager to let them know.

And another one! Special Constable Machai at the Central Police Station has been celebrated for her exceptional customer service. She is friendly, pays attention to details, and assists efficiently and on time. Needless to say we’ll be writing to the Commissioner of Police to let him know.

Are things already turning round in Government? Is this the beginning of something new?

The Daily News reported this week that civil servants had a meeting in Selebi-Phikwe with the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Eric Molale, and said that “it was imperative for civil servants to go back to the drawing board and come up with better ways of improving service delivery”.

Furthermore, when he was in Francistown the PSP was saying things like “there should be openness and that service should always be delivered with a smile”!


This week’s stars!

  • Gaone at Plascon Paints for being wonderfully proactive and for being really great at customer service.
  • Dr Sabondo at the Gaborone Private Hospital for saving a small child’s finger. Our reader says “I want the world to know that my son's finger is intact, you will never believe it! A big thanks to Dr Sabondo and the nurses at the emergency room for the unbelievable miracle.”

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