Thursday 17 September 2009

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

Just a few weeks ago, I went to a store in Phakalane and purchased a few goodies which I intended to pay by Rands. To my surprise I was told if you pay with Rands you don’t get any change, regardless of how much your purchases cost.

Imagine having to buy a can of drink for P5.95 and you pay with R50 and that’s it. WOW! How shocking!

What irritates me is the fact that it was not the first time I make purchases at the same supermarket with Rands and I’ve never been told such a thing in the past. Looks like it’s a newly introduced arrangement (if I may call it that).

My question is why? It doesn’t sound fair to me, they are robbing us big time.

I’m not sure I fully understand your problem. This is Botswana, the Rand is not our currency. The Rand is currency in South Africa and despite what certain furniture stores seem to think Botswana is NOT the 10th province of South Africa. We are, in case they haven’t noticed a very happily independent, sovereign nation.

However, let’s assume you can pay in Rand in a store in Botswana. Let’s take your example. You pay for a P5.95 drink with R50. How much change do you expect to receive? In what currency do you expect to be paid your change? If in Pula, how would the store calculate the correct amount? If, for some reason, you took the drink back later how would they give you a refund?

That is where there might be a legal problem. You give them currency A and in return they give you currency B? If the store starts looking up exchange rates, doing the calculations and exchanging currencies doesn’t that make them a foreign exchange dealer? The Bank of Botswana Act says that “no person shall carry on the business of buying and selling foreign exchange without a licence issued by the Bank”. It might even be illegal for them to give you change.

In summary, I think it’s best if you keep life simple. Pay for things in Rand in South Africa and in Pula in Botswana. If you want to swap one to the other go visit your bank.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

On 20th January I bought a t-shirt from JB Sports in Ghanzi. I started wearing the clothing item on the 29th January when I knocked off from work. Later when I removed the t-shirt I saw some black spots all over my body and realised that they were left by the t-shirt. I thought it was starch because of the fact that I never washed the t-shirt before wearing it.

The following morning I soaked the t-shirt together with my other clothing items before leaving for work. I did my washing at around 1700 hours when I knocked off. When I tried to shake water from the t-shirt it busted across the chest. I closely examined the t-shirt and found more tatters that apparently occurred when I was washing. The following morning I went to complain about the clothing item. The staff said they could not help me because the manager was not around and queries of that kind can only be solved by the manager. I left the clothing item at the shop and came back on the 11th February and the staff members were in no position to help because the manager told them they couldn’t help me even after examining the clothing item. They wouldn’t even give me their names or the contact address of the manager so that I could communicate with him or her myself. All they did was to accuse me of having been involved in a fight or used some chemical on the clothing item that lead to the condition. I left the clothing item at the shop together with my contacts hoping they will call me when the manager was around but they never did.

Can you help?

Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations says goods must be of merchantable quality, which means they must be “fit for the purpose”. Clearly a t-shirt should be capable of being worn but also of being washed. If an item of clothing isn’t capable of being washed it’s clearly not good enough to sell.

If you are certain that you didn’t mistreat the t-shirt in any way, I suggest that you write them a letter, explaining how you think they breached the Consumer Protection Regulations and give them perhaps 7 days either to replace the t-shirt or to give you your money back.

Please let us know what they say.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #3

I was invited to a presentation by a group calling itself Success University. Do you think I should go?

If you’re in the mood for some fun why don’t you go and ask them to explain why they have been declared “an illegal pyramid scheme” by the Bank of Namibia and they are banned from operating in that country as a result. Otherwise I wouldn’t waste your time. They are a pyramid scheme that, for the moment, is allowed to trade here. Who knows how long for!

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