Tuesday, 31 March 2009

ITA Work and Travel - Mmegi Monitor story

Mmegi Monitor ran the story of our discovery of the ITA Work and Travel scam here.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Be a skeptic

There has never been a better time to be a skeptic. With an avalanche of scam artists, some very shady stores selling on credit, the usual dodgy loan sharks and the looming financial crisis this is a time to start using our brains rather than just our emotions.

This is a time to use our critical thinking skills and not believe things just because someone says they’re true. This is a time to be a skeptic. There’s certainly no shortage of things to be skeptical about.

Holiday Clubs

No, not necessarily The Holiday Club, I mean ANY holiday club. I mean any so-called club that has a clause in the contract that says you can never leave the club. Any club that requires a lifetime membership and annual fees for the rest of your existence is not to be trusted, particularly if they don’t tell you about it BEFORE you sign the contract.

Why would they do this? Well, it might be a mistake of course but isn’t it more likely that it’s a plan to hook you in and then not let you go?

Holiday clubs are also not even worth the money most of the time. There are suggestions that it’s not even a particularly cheap way to take holidays. The last-minute deals offered by travel agents are often much cheaper. Couple that with the massive restrictions holiday clubs place on when you can take your holidays and you have to wonder why anyone would join.

Pyramid self-improvement schemes

Success University is the obvious example of this. They claim to be a mechanism for helping you get your hands on miraculous self-improvement DVDs, tapes and the like. In fact they’re a pyramid-selling scheme. What they really want you to do is join their pyramid and to start hiring people beneath you. With promises of vast riches it’s no wonder people find the idea appealing.

But it’s all nonsense. Nobody is ever going to make a fortune in a pyramid scheme other than the crooks at the top. Their money-making scheme is based entirely on the gullibility of the people beneath them in the pyramid.

I’m not the only one who think Success University is a pyramid selling scheme. In Namibia they’ve been outlawed because of the way they do their business.

And finally, why on earth do they call themselves a university when they’re not a university? Isn’t that a big clue that they are not what they claim?

They aren’t the only ones of course. Just last week I came across another scheme called “Be Motivated Today”. This is based in South Africa and also promises “wealth and financial freedom”, all from “passive income”, “earning money without having to work for it”. They are curiously vague about how exactly you are meant to do this but once you do some digging you quickly find out that they are a Success University clone. To make the mythical sums they mention you have to start recruiting other victims.

Pyramid selling schemes don’t work and you should avoid them.

Dodgy churches

It’s not just the so-called Church of Scientology that is primarily interested in money rather than salvation. We’ve all read the stories of often foreign-run independent little churches that have started in Botswana and have very quickly awarded their preachers top of the range 4x4s, flashy suits and jewellery. Just like a pyramid scheme they offer the impossible, demand cash up front and more often than not end up leaving the country in a hurry, often persued by their creditors, their “customers” and the Police.


Consumer Watchdog went to the recent workshop where the Non-Bank Financial Industry Regulatory Authority launched their new proposed rules governing micro-lenders. Unbelievably during a questions session a micro-lender stood up and attempted to defend the practice of taking customer’s ATM cards and PIN numbers so they could be sure to get their money back. Staggering I know, but at least the authorities put him in his place. In case anyone doesn’t know where I stand on the matter let me make it clear. Loan sharks who take ATM cards and PIN numbers from customers are crooks and scumbags. Simple enough?

Customer service gurus

A couple of weeks ago I was rather scathing about the travelling customer service experts who travel the world, telling us how we can deliver the very best service, how they know best and how much we should pay them for dispensing their wisdom.

Well, I’m told that the latest visiting expert at his big function repeatedly used the phrase “here in Tanzania” throughout his presentations. This is the same guy who on his web site proudly announces his work in “Bostwana”.

How much more evidence do we need to conclude that these travelling gurus offer nothing new? In fact I don’t think they offer anything old either. All they offer is words, the same words we’ve all heard before, the same as in their overpriced books.

Did you go to hear this guy speak? Did you hear him get confused about the country who was hosting his royal visit? Let me know what you thought!

This week’s stars
  • Piet in the pharmacy at the Gaborone Private Hospital for outstanding service. Our reader says he is committed, always friendly and very helpful.
  • Greg and the team at the Walmont Ambassador (yeah, I know we all think of it as the Grand Palm Hotel) for looking after visitors

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice

I went to Gaborone Autoworld looking for a brand new Isuzu KB300 automatic. They quoted me P250,868 and gave me an invoice which stated that the delivery time was 2 weeks.

I applied for a bank loan and the bank approved P120,868. GA said they would place an order immediately if I paid the difference as a deposit, which I made by bank certified cheque for P130,000.

Three weeks later there was still no car and no word from GA. I went to inquire and was told the car would only come in the 1st week of March.

I was then told that the price had gone up by 7%. I found the accountant and complained I was losing a lot of money in interest while my money sat in their account. He emailed me an acknowledgement and the new price claiming he had taken into account the 2 months interest.

A few days later they called me to say they had made a refund check for P130,000, which I was to collect because they were no longer providing the car.

Where do I stand as a consumer? Please help.

This is very unfortunate. They let you down and you deserve better. However what matters most is any contract you might have signed. Check to see whether it says anything about price fluctuations or whether it guarantees you a vehicle at the price you agreed. Don’t be too optimistic, it almost certainly doesn’t offer you any protection.

However, you can understand why they would have cancelled your purchase if they could no longer afford to sell you the vehicle. If the price they were paying to buy the car went up so that it was very close to, or even exceeded the P250,868 they had agreed with you they wouldn’t have made any money from the sale.

I don’t have much hope that you’ll get your lost interest back. Yes, I understand that you could have earned a small amount of interest if you had kept your money in the bank but I suspect you would have great difficulty in getting them to pay you anything.

I think you might have more luck in getting any bank fees back from them. If you incurred any costs in getting the bank loan or the bank guaranteed cheque you might be entitled to claim back from them. It’s worth writing them a stern letter discussing their breach of contract and their failure to keep you updated.

Meanwhile I suggest that you examine any agreements you had with them and see what it says. Please feel free to fax a copy to us and we’ll take a look as well.

Advice on buying new cars

We’ve said this all before but here are some of the key tips when looking for a new car. Check our web site for the full tips.

Don’t believe the advertisements

Remember that adverts aren’t there to provide facts, they are there to persuade you to buy a product. So don’t believe all you see. Of course the law prevents them from actually lying but they WILL manipulate your feelings and expectations. While writing this article I leafed through a glossy magazine and found two full-page advertisements for smart cars. Each showed a top of the range model but the price displayed was in fact for a much lower specification model. Of course the small print explained this but by that stage you are committed to the higher price one and you’re going to be disappointed when you get to the showroom and see what the lower price will buy you.

Take your time

Don’t rush. Before you first set foot in a car showroom recognise that this is going to take a few weeks. Be firm and do not allow yourself to buy impulsively.

Get competitive quotes

We live in a small community. We don’t have several BMW, Volvo, Toyota and Peugeot distributors so you can’t get them to bid competitively for the same model. However you CAN get BMW to quote you for a 3 series against a Peugeot 4 series. You can get Toyota to compete to sell you a Landcruiser Prado against a Volvo XC90. Make them fight for your business. Tell them what the others are offering and see what they can offer you.

Get sensible financing

Very few of us can afford to buy a new car for cash. Most of us need a car loan. DO NOT automatically get a loan from the company who is selling you the car. Shop around. Get the various lenders to bid competitively. Get a quote from your bank and then show it to a second bank. Take the second bid and show it to the first bank AND a third bank. Keep going until one of them gives you a very good deal.

Walk away

There is nothing that terrifies a salesman in a car showroom more than a customer who is walking away. Tell them what you want and if they offer anything different then walk out. If they let you get through the door then they weren’t for you anyway. Chances are they’ll stop you leaving with a better offer.

Be patient

Don’t rush. They’ll tempt you with offers that “are only valid today”. Call their bluff. Walk away and see if the deal is extended until tomorrow or the end of the week.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Scam alert - ITA Work and Travel

In conjunction with our friends at both Mmegi and The Voice we seem to be uncovering a scam called "ITA Work and Travel".

These people placed adverts in local newspapers (although they actually got their victims to do it for them) offering highly paid job opportunities around the world, paying over US$ 5,000 per month. Of course these jobs don't exist, they're just a way of getting you to part with your money.

Once you respond you get an email which says:
"Dear prospective client,
It is my pleasure to inform you that you have been pre-selected and your profile has been accepted by major organizations in the United States, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Australia, Russia, China, Greece, South Africa and Turkey. You are one of the lucky few we think has the qualities we are looking for. We are excited to hire you because despite your qualifications and possible experience, you're potential to enroll with us and we greatly appreciate it."
Note the first clue. They don't use your name. That's because they send this to every potential victim.

They ask you to pay $350 as a "registration fee" and later over $1,000 to process the necessary visas.

We phoned the scammers pretending to be a potential victim and recorded the conversation. We spoke to someone who called himself Henry who said that he could get us a "diplomatic visa" and a job on a cruise ship.

Some of their victims have been offered accountancy jobs paying the mythical $5,000 per month in Florida even though the victim had barely qualified as an accountant.

This is all a scam, don't go near them.

You've been warned!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Apple iPhone - update

The good people at Apple today announced that an update to the iPhone software will be available some time "this summer" (they mean a northern hemisphere summer so in our winter).

See more here.

I could say "Good news", I could say "How wonderful of Apple to drag their device into the 21st century" but I'm more likely just to say:
"About time but still no Flash Video?"
In the unlikely event that anyone thinks I'm anti-Apple, note that I've got one of these, by far the best laptop I've ever seen, let alone owned.

The techie consumer

The biggest purchasers consumer usually make are houses and cars. They are the ones where the amounts of money concerned are often staggering and may involve commitments of several years, if not decades.

Scarily we often hear of consumers who treat these commitments with the same level of seriousness as the purchase of a cellphone or a DVD player. It’s scary because the consequences of getting these purchases wrong, of choosing the wrong lender or vehicle, of selection the wrong payment plan can easily cost you tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Pula.

Then there are the purchases in the middle range that, while they won’t bankrupt you if you make the wrong selection they’ll certainly hurt.

Things like personal computers and top-of-the-range cellphones can hurt like hell if you get them wrong. These are areas where it is reckless not to do the research before you part with your money. There’s also no excuse for not doing the research. These days anyone who is considering buying a PC or a clever cellphone is the sort of person who already has access to the Internet. All you have to do is go to Google, enter the name of the device you are considering along with the word “review” and you’ll almost certainly find a host of online reviews by a mixture of experts and amateurs.

For instance if you are considering buying the Apple iPhone that Orange are offering you should search for “iPhone review” and your search will come back with over 100 million hits. I’m not suggesting you read them all but the first few will be a mine of information.

Make your search a little bit more refined and you’ll uncover some of the really important information you need to know. Search for “iPhone problems” and you’ll find a mere 30 million hits. Of course some of these might be web site sites that say something like “the iPhone had no problems” but it’s more likely that the majority of the hits will express the concerns you need to know about.

Of course, you might decide that these problems aren’t relevant to you. Maybe they refer to features that you don’t care about or conditions you’ll never experience but you might find out something you really need to know.

I wrote about the Apple iPhone some weeks ago and expressed concern about the failure of Orange to explain some of the problems with this admittedly marvellous device. Like the fact that you can’t forward a text message. It’s not the end of the world but it’s probably something we’ve all done. Like the fact that although it has Bluetooth, a common cellphone and computer technology that allows you to connect to other devices, the Bluetooth on the iPhone has been enormously restricted. You can’t swap contacts or photos using Bluetooth on an iPhone.

You can’t even copy and paste things on an iPhone. Yes, you read that right. You can’t copy a fascinating quote or a joke from an email and paste it into another email or text message. I know it’s unreal, I know that we’ve been copying and pasting text on computers and even smart phones for decades, it’s just unreal that the iPhone can’t or won’t do such a thing.

Then there is the truly surreal thing. Anyone who surfs the web will have come across web sites with Flash videos. This has become the standard way of showing video clips online. Sites like YouTube are Flash-based. Even our web site has flash videos built in.

But the iPhone, while it can surf the web very well indeed, can’t show Flash videos. The hilarious irony is that if you visit the Orange Botswana web site using an iPhone and you visit their page on the iPhone itself, you can’t see the Flash videos concerning the very phone you’re using to visit the site. Utterly bizarre.

If you visit the site using a device that CAN see Flash video you’ll see that the video clips say how you can use the GPS facility and Google Maps to find “a cup of coffee or a particular address”. Very nice, except if you are using it in Botswana. It works perfectly in Europe and the USA, just not here. Yes, you can see a satellite image of your house but you can’t see road names and details of the things they suggest you can find. This is despite the video saying that “Google Maps on the iPhone is amazing” and “Google Maps and iPhone deliver”. In Botswana they deliver little more than irritation.

This isn’t an attack on the iPhone, which is the coolest, sexiest cellphone ever seen. It’s just deeply flawed and before you buy one you should do some research. If the shortcomings of this phone don’t bother you then you’ll enjoy it hugely. If however it can’t do things you need then you’ll need to look elsewhere.

If anything this is an attack on suppliers who fail to give their potential customers the full truth in their marketing. Orange run the risk of letting down their customers by not giving them the full facts on a product and, when they are contacted for support after the sale, having no idea how the thing actually works.

The lesson is to do your homework and make informed decisions, not ones that are led by fancy marketing alone.

This week’s stars
  • Vicky from SAA Express at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport for friendly service when things went wrong.

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice

I bought a TV set from a furniture store at the end of November 2008 on store credit. The TV worked for only one and half months and then it packed up. I gave them back the TV on 20th January and they promised to look into it. They have not come back to me more than a month later. They have not given me a temporary replacement as is normal practice with most shops.

Please advise me of the next thing to do. What is the normal process in cases like this?

I think you need to start getting assertive with this store.

However, first things first. Whatever happens, no matter how frustrating it might be, no matter how angry you get, you must NOT stop making your monthly payments. You must remember that the monthly repayments and the broken TV are actually totally separate things. I know it sounds difficult but if you stop making the payments YOU will be the one in the wrong. It will be YOU that breached the credit agreement and who will end up with a bad credit record at TransUnion ITC.

You signed a credit agreement that binds you for a certain period. If you breach that agreement you will end up owing extra money in interest and they may have the right to demand all the outstanding money in one lump sum.

However, that has nothing to do with your right to DEMAND that they fix your TV as soon as possible. They sold you a TV that was not of “merchantable quality” as required by the Consumer Protection Regulations 2001. Clearly, unless you mistreated the TV, it wasn’t good enough.

You have a right, an absolute, inalienable, non-negotiable right to a TV. Obviously if the store was just going to have the TV for a day or two it might be a bit much to ask for a replacement TV on loan. However, the fact that you’ve been without your TV for over a month is totally unacceptable. They have really let you down.

I suggest that you write to the store and give them four choices.

Choice 1. They give you your TV back immediately. So long as it’s working perfectly.
Choice 2. They give you a temporary TV that is at least as good as your TV while they finish repairing it.
Choice 3. They replace your TV with another at least as good.
Choice 4. They can look forward to a visit from a Voice reporter and photographer, shortly followed by a news item about how they disrespect both the law and their customers.

Give them a week to make their choice. We’ll have the reporter and the photographer ready to go!

Advice on store credit

Visit our web site for comprehensive advice on how to deal with store credit if you have no option but to buy on credit.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Talk, talk, talk

Here we go again. This happens every year or two.

As you read this we will be graced yet again by the inestimable presence of John Tschohl, the man who was apparently once described by Time magazine as a “client service guru”. He’s been brought over again by our National Productivity Centre who seem to continue to believe that we need people to fly in for a few days, fill up our increasingly expensive hotels and read out the content of their books, as if we’re can’t read them ourselves.

Ahh, but some will say, it’s his presence that matters. His physical presence, his inspirational, motivational, educational speeches will somehow inspire us to become the customer service centre of the world. These people will say that simply being in his holy presence will somehow magically inspire the attendees to go forth and multiply their customer’s happiness. Some of his magic will miraculously wear off on those fortunate enough to have been touched by his message.

So here’s a question. If his presence the last time he was here was so influential, why does he feel the need to come back and do it all again? If he’s so good, if these uplifting speeches are so, well, uplifting, why hasn’t his last trip uplifted anything?

The only thing I can see that it will have uplifted is his bank balance.

Here’s another question. If he is so committed to improving poor little Botswana, if his message is so relevant to us in Botswana, if his powerful presence offers so much to Botswana, why can’t he spell “Botswana”?

Last time he was here in Botswana (I’m repeating the name of our country often so he and his team can see how to spell it) he send out a paper in advance that outlined his message. In it he consistently referred to “Bostwana”. His web site lists many clients including “Bostwana National Productivity Centre” and “Ministry of Local Government (Bostwana)”. In response to this here’s another Consumer Watchdog rule to add to your collection. It’s similar to our rule regarding preachers: “Never trust a preacher who drives a better car than you do.”

Our new rule is “Never trust a highly-paid consultant who can’t spell his customer’s name correctly.”

One of the many ironies is that I bet somewhere in Jon Scholl’s (yes, I DID mean to spell it incorrectly) motivational presentation will have been the word “respect”. Something about showing respect to your customer, empathising with their emotional needs, giving all those non-verbal clues that you respect them. This from someone who can’t even be bothered to spell our country’s name correctly?

I think that you should judge a wandering consultant guru not by the enormous self confidence they possess. I think you should judge them by their actions, their background and their results.

Take the so-called Dr Steven Covey who was also here in Botswana (reminder to the John Tschohl team, that’s how you spell it) recently. “Dr” Covey has a doctorate. Impressive eh? Not THAT impressive when you learn that it’s a Doctorate in Religious Education from Brigham Young University. That’s the Mormon university where he got his doctorate not in business, management or philosophy but in Mormon Church History and Doctrine.

Now I’m not going to ridicule his religion, but I do think it’s interesting to consider that he got his doctorate (which, let me remind you was in Mormon doctrine) from a church whose doctrine until 1978 didn’t allow black people to become priests.

Back to the subject. John Tschohl is back again giving away his tips, experience and an enormous range of platitudes. Well, OK, not exactly giving them away, he’s selling them. By the time you read this he will have finished and maybe I should be optimistic and charitable? Maybe by the time you read this all the people fortunate enough to have received His Word will have become inspirational, entrepreneurial, driven and dynamic customer service champions.

Somehow I doubt it.

I’ve said this before, I know I repeat myself endlessly, but what we need is not to repeat endlessly the same old lessons about customer service. We all know them already, we’ve all heard them before, we know them inside out. What we need is action.

So here’s our free guide to excellent customer service. Tell all your staff, in writing, to do what they KNOW already has to be done. Tell them that from now on it is compulsory for them to use their own intelligence to satisfy customers. It is compulsory for them to treat customers with respect, concern and understanding.

One week later remind them again, in writing, that this is what you require them to do.

Another week later take a walk around your organisation and watch them in action. Every time you see one of your staff greet a customer without eye contact and a smile fire them on the spot. Every time you see an employee fail to apologise when they answer their cellphone while dealing with a customer fire them on the spot. Every time you see a customer walk in and not be helped by someone who CAN help them, fire that person on the spot.

Don’t worry, you’ll get away with it. You gave them two written instructions, their failure to follow them is gross professional misconduct.

The next thing you do is to take another walk around. Every time you see one of your team dealing with a customer well, pat them on the back. The second time you see that person do well give them a handful of cash as a bonus. The tenth time you see them do it promote them to team leader on the spot.

Isn’t that inspirational? And free!

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice

I received a text message which said the following:

“You have been NORMINATED for the SONY ERICSSON PROMO 2009 with ref. No. SE1076. Email your NAME & PHONE NUMBER to: claim@uksonyericsson.com & call +447035918758”

Do you think this is for real? Do you think I should respond to it or call them?

Certainly not. This is a scam. Look at the message again carefully and you can see the clues.

Firstly there’s a spelling mistake: “Norminated”. Almost always these messages are written by someone whose first language is not English and you very often see simple spelling mistakes as a result.

Then there’s the email address you are asked to contact. Whenever you see an email address like that and you are slightly suspicious it’s worth doing a quick check to see if there’s a web site with the same domain. The domain is the bit after the @. In this case you should try to visit www.uksonyericsson.com. If you try this you’ll see that it doesn’t exist. There’s your next clue that it’s a scam.

You can also do some research you can also find that the number given is suspicious. British phone numbers (the +44 tells you that it a UK number) that start with +4470 are notorious for being used by scammers.

If do a Google search for the phrase “Sony Ericsson Promo 2009” (remember to put it in quotes so Google searches for EXACTLY that phrase) you can also get some clues that this is an attempt to part you from your money. Google can’t find a single reference to this phrase. It finds various other combinations of the words but the exact phrase scores no hits at all. Wouldn’t that be a bit surprising if a company as big as Sony Ericsson was running such a promotion?

And another thing. Why don’t they mention your name? If YOU have been selected, why don’t they know your name?

OK, finally we get to the biggest clue that it’s a scam.


Do you really think a total stranger is going to SMS you saying you stand a chance of winning something? Do you really think that a company like Sony Ericsson is going to give things away like this? Of course they’re not. It’s never going to happen, never, never, never.

So, in short, don’t EVER believe anything like this. Every time it happens it’s a scam, it’s as simple as that. Don’t waste your money or time contacting them. They’ll tempt you with some story of a lottery win, a car or something marvellous. However, ALL of them will inevitably involve an “advance fee”. It might be legal fees or an import duty, it doesn’t matter what, it will be money you have to pay before you get the prize. That’s the prize that doesn’t exist anyway.

I suggest that you delete this SMS and pretend you never received it.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

The global consumer

Travel broadens the mind. Anyone who is interested in consumer rights or in customer service must travel a bit to see how differently consumers behave and how similarly they are treated.

One of the great myths in customer service and in consumer rights is that there are countries where things are fantastic, where the sun never sets and where the streets are paved with gold and that there are other countries where everything just sucks. It’s not true.

In my experience wherever you are in the world, whichever group of people you meet, whatever their race, gender or sexual orientation about 10% of people you meet are horrible, nasty and mean. About 99% of taxi drivers are certifiable lunatics and about 50% of people “doing” customer service know what they’re doing. It really doesn’t matter what country you’re in, levels of service are fairly uniform.

Of course that doesn’t mean we can be complacent and think that because we are the same as the average we can sit back and take it easy. Do we want to be an average nation or a superior one?

As you can guess I’m abroad. I’m in the land of my birth, the UK. This is the country, that if you believe some Brits who live in Botswana, that invented customer service, is populated by the people who won the Second World War single-handed and where things never go wrong.

It’s simply not true. It’s certainly different to Botswana but the overall quality of service is no different. The single advantage the UK has over Botswana is the size of it’s marketplace. There are so many Brits crammed into a tiny island that competition is everywhere. Within 5km of where I’m writing this there are three enormous supermarkets. Each of them encloses a space the size of a football pitch and has an astonishing array of goods on sale. But that’s just because the entire population of the county (no, not the country, just this county) which is less than 1/150th the size of Botswana has almost exactly the same population as Botswana. It’s the competition that keeps the supermarket staff on their toes. They know that customers will easily switch to another store if they aren’t treated properly.

That’s what we lack in Botswana, the offer of extensive competition. And, to some extent, we just have to learn with that. Our population will never be large enough to warrant the level of choice you get in the UK or even South Africa.

On the other hand we haven’t been corrupted by being enormously spoiled and hideously over-indulged. Trust me, I’m allowed to say this because it’s the land of my birth, but the Australians are right when they call the Brits the “whinging Poms”. When you have things presented to you on a plate you very quickly lose track of how lucky you are. The Brits have entirely free, top of the range health care and they still complain about it when they have to queue for a few minutes or when they aren’t given access to million pound facilities on demand. They are exposed to enormous choice but still don’t realise how lucky they are.

To a very small extent I think we have the same problem. Of course I’m not saying that in Botswana we are as spoilt as the Brits but we have had it fairly good, at least as compared to our neighbours.

We have to be realistic. We are never going to have quite the same level of choice and competition that other countries have. That just means that we, as consumers, have to use competition much more aggressively. Let’s start telling Orange that we’re moving to Mascom when we’re upset, let’s tell Bank A we’re moving to Bank B, let’s make the restaurants with descending standards understand what will happen if they don’t take action.

The other thing we can do is start to apply some basic standards in the way we operate as a nation. There are so many places where we can begin. What about education? As well as the various fly-by-night little training establishments that go unregistered and who really seem just to want to part naive consumers from their money there are the bigger players. In last week’s Sunday Standard there was an article entitled “Why do Batswana hate us so much?” and it quoted Gail Phung , the Senior Vice President, Corporate and Faculty Development of Limkokwing University. Complaining about how Limkokwing were treated in Botswana she apparently said:

“We have only two years in Botswana but the hate we get from some of the locals is not right, including the media... What wrong have we done in this country and if we have done any wrong, our doors are always open for discussion.”

Well, apart from whining because the media have done their job in highlighting some concerns about Limkokwing you can also address the concerns they have expressed, alongside those of the Ministry of Education. We DO have a right to know why Limkokwing recently had a number of illegally employed lecturers thrown out. We DO have a right to know why they employ graduates with no postgraduate experience to tech the courses they only recently finished studying. We DO have a right to demand certain basic standards from a University that has been granted the right to make lots of money from Botswana.

So stop whining because life isn’t perfect and give us some answers. Otherwise we’ll rename you Lomkokwhining University.

This week’s stars
  • Doda from Exclusive Books for “great organisational skills”.

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice

I got your address from an attorney who thought you could perhaps help me. I was dealing with a guy called Mr XXX who has a jewellery business called XXX's Jewellery in the Main Mall in Gaborone. I gave Mr XXX my wedding ring for coating and polishing at a cost of P300. To my surprise very soon afterwards I saw my wedding ring at Cash Crusaders on display for sale. When I enquired how my wedding ring ended up there they told me that Mr XXX pawned it and when he wasn’t interested in paying to get it back, Cash Crusaders displayed it for sale.

In order to get my precious wedding ring back I was then forced to buy it back from Cash Crusaders even though I already owned it.

I have all the receipts as proof of payment for re-purchasing my wedding ring at Cash Crusaders. When I was there I saw many more wedding rings on display at Cash Crusaders which are said to be from the same person.

What can I do?

This is a case where we can do our bit to help you but where another organisation can be of more help than us.

Call the Police! Give them all the details of your situation including copies of receipts, dates and times. File a formal complaint of theft, fraud or cheating, whichever the Police think is best. If in doubt file complaints of all three. Do not stop filing complaints until the police have run out of paper.

We spoke to Cash Crusaders about this and they told us that they will accept anything in return for cash so long as the person offering it has ID, proof of address and some sort of receipt. Not that difficult I suppose if you are a jeweller. However surely they must have known something suspicious was happening if the same guy kept coming in pawning items of jewellery?

We’ll do our best to track down Mr XXX to see if he can explain why he STOLE your wedding ring. We’ll see if has anything like a decent excuse for THEFT. We’ll see if he can persuade us why he’s not a CRIMINAL.

If he can’t do these things we’ll name him, blame him and shame him. We’ll record all our telephone conversations with him and give them to the Police to back up your complaint against him.

I don’t think he wants that to happen, do you?