Tuesday 14 July 2009

An email about Success University

The email is in italics, my response at the end.

Dear Consumer Watchdog,

I wish to commend you on the consumer informative work you do through The Voice newspaper. Your honest passion and enthusiasm to give correct information about our legal rights and obligations as consumers is just so inspiring.

In your last issue of Consumer’s Voice of The Voice for Friday, July 10th, 2009, you discussed bogus educational institutions including Success University. You described Success University as a pyramid scheme which must be declared illegal in Botswana, learning from our Namibian counterparts. You say people should steer clear of it to avoid falling “victim.” You say it is “NOT” a university because they don’t award qualifications, don’t employee lecturers and don’t have premises. I know you have done your research. So you are not speaking from without. What I therefore think you need to do on this one issue is just to open your mind a little more and embrace the educational innovative idea that Success University is.

To begin with, we each need to be honest with ourselves and admit, for our own good, that the conventional education that I am using to write this letter, which you are using to read it, which education earns you and me a monthly salary, lamentably falls short of the education we need to live the kind of lives we really desire as human beings. We all desire to be happy, feel purposeful, passionate and contribute to the betterment of our planet. This you do best by following your dream, or doing what you love or are passionate about. And there is nowhere on earth, no school, no university, no kgotla, where you can get this education apart from motivational, self-help, personal development or inspirational speakers and materials. And that is what Success University is offering. I would expect that you would encourage people to flock to it and learn more; because you want happy consumers.

I am sure you are not a stranger to people’s stress and frustrations that come from them doing jobs they don’t like (or even hate with a passion) as a result of their conventional education. Any HR person or supervisor will tell you that motivating employees is a depressingly daunting task. Would somebody who loves what they do need any motivation? If you don’t like it being called a university, what other fitting name do you suggest? ‘University’, ‘college’, ‘school’, ‘academy’ etc are common words for places of learning. Success University is a place of learning. A book, a CD, a DVD, an article (like this one), a newspaper column (like Consumer’s Voice), etc are all lecturers. A website, with genuine people behind it who do not claim to be other than they are, is a premises. In your wildest dreams, what qualifications can you award for “success education.” Qualifications are awarded at the end of a course or program. Success (joy or happiness) is a life time journey. It CANNOT have a qualification.

When you call Success University a pyramid scheme you are misinforming people. You are discouraging them for something that is good for them. Generally pyramid schemes are scams and Success University is not a scam. It is a very legitimate and innovative idea to give people something live has NEVER given them - an education in success – not in Law, Mathematics, Science etc. Of course they require registration fees, and monthly subscriptions for one to use their materials and there is nothing wrong with that. University of Botswana does it. IDM does it. All universities do it, although some prefer lump sum and installment payments. But then there is more. Success University pays you commission for recruiting other students, which creates what you are calling a pyramid, although I would rather you call it a network because that is what it is. Just like Network 21 or Amway, which are legitimate businesses organized in a ‘pyramid scheme’ fashion.

I am not a member of Success University, but in my own investigations, I can advice you and your readers that it is genuine. I have seen the debit card they give members to withdraw their commission fees from anywhere in the world and I have seen with my own two eyes the monthly statements of accounts they send to the members. So please encourage people to join. Just emphasis this to them; you only make money by sales commissions (which is normal business practice) i.e. recruiting other students. If you are not a good marketer then you will be feeling the pinch of paying monthly subscriptions, which the last time I checked was I think $58.00. If it is just motivational materials you want I would suggest you use that money to buy a motivational book or CD from Exclusive Books at Riverwalk, Amazon.com or give me a call.

Thanks for taking time to read this letter and I hope your readers benefit a thing or two.
Thanks for getting in touch and taking the time to express your feelings.

However you don't appear to address any of the issues in the article I wrote.

Why does Success University call itself a university when it clearly isn't one? Are SU accredited by any educational authority? No, they're not. It's not up to me to say what they should call themselves but calling themselves a university when they are clearly not such a thing sounds remarkably like an attempt to deceive people, don't you think? When they paid me a visit to defend themselves even their local head John Keogh couldn't justify it.

He also told me that the Bank of Namibia were going to reverse their decision to declare SU a pyramid scheme. When I spoke to the Bank of Namibia they denied this completely. As far as I know they remain illegal in Namibia and rightly so in my opinion. He was either mistaken or lying.

You're not really serious when you say that the Consumer Watchdog newspaper column is a lecturer, are you? And that a web site constitute premises?

You say that you "have seen with my own two eyes the monthly statements of accounts they send to the members". Show me and I might believe you. [Note: he hasn't yet.]

I see no reason to change my opinion of "Success University". They are a business that uses the sale of third-rate motivational material to cover up a pyramid scheme. The more people that understand this the better.

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