Friday, 28 August 2009

Where can you turn?

A friend asked me a few days ago where she could go to find out about consumer rights in Botswana.

Frankly I didn’t quite know how to answer. You might think that there would be a special section of the Government web site with a comprehensive description of all our rights but you’d be disappointed. It’s true that the Ministry of Trade & Industry has it’s own web site but, even if you’re feeling charitable, it’s basic.

There a section on it entitled Policy & Legislation which I thought would be a good start. Within that area there’s a link to a single article for the Department of Trade & Consumer Affairs. So far so good? Click on the link and then there’s another link called “Policy - DTCA”. Bear with me, we’re almost there, OK?

Finally you get to the right page and it has a description that reads:

“Short Secription Here Short Secription Here Short Secription Here Short Secription Here Short Secription Here Short Secription Here Short Secription Here Short Secription Here”.

No, that wasn’t either Mmegi or me going mad, that’s what the web site says. A little bit further down you get to the policy they promised. What is it? An application for an industrial licence. Wow.

Elsewhere on the MTI site there’s a section called FAQ. No, that’s not anything rude, it stands for Frequently Asked Questions. The first question I was tempted to ask is where’s the bloody information but I wasn’t answered. I finally found the one page of information that might actually help a consumer. It answered questions like “Who is a consumer?” The MTI answer is, in case you are wondering, as follows:

“As long as you buy goods and services for personal use and not for resale, you are a consumer.”

Again, wow. It doesn’t get much better.

Much as I tried I couldn’t actually find anything useful for consumers on the MTI web site. Other than pearls of wisdom about keeping your receipts, remembering to breathe out after breathing in and not sticking your head in a vat of boiling oil there wasn’t anything that would help the average person who wanted to learn a little more.

I’ve also seen the occasional piece in the Daily News but again, I have to say that they’ve never actually contained anything that struck me as useful and where can you go to find them today? They’re not to be found anywhere on the Internet as far as I can see so they’re not much use in the long term.

Perhaps you could check out the actual laws relating to Consumer Protection yourself? Well, you could go to the Government printers and buy a copy if you were feeling energetic and patient. You certainly can’t see them online yet. They were online for a few days in 2006 but they haven’t been available since then. We heard from the Attorney General’s Chambers recently that they were working to have them back online soon which is excellent news but it’s not much help at the moment.

So where else can you turn?

Unfortunately, and I DO mean unfortunately, I can only think of one place you can go to learn a bit about your rights as a consumer in Botswana. Our web site.

We’ve done our best to make the Consumer Watchdog web site a source of interesting and above all useful information, a place where consumers can learn more about their rights and read tips on what to do when things go wrong.

For instance there’s a section specifically on scams. It describes the crooks and conmen we’ve encountered and dissects some of their crafty schemes to part us from our hard-earned money. There are even recordings of some of the criminal charlatans selling cures for cancer, fertility problems and, yes, even for AIDS.

You’ll also find a variety of Shopper’s Guides that cover all sorts of issues. These were designed for you to read before you go shopping, before you buy anything, before you sign a contract so you do so well-prepared. There’s even a Shopper’s Guide specifically about our Consumer Protection laws.

There’s a section devoted to Store Credit Schemes explaining some of the scandalous behaviour of certain stores, the stores that ignore the law, that ignore our rights and frankly don’t give a damn about their customers.

Please, if you are Internet connected, take a look at the web site and let us know what you think. If you think there’s something we should put up there let us know. If you have a story you think other consumers could learn from then let us know and we’ll cover it online. If there’s a lesson you think your neighbours should learn then help us spread the word.

You can also comment on any of our published material and a whole lot of other comments on the Consumer Watchdog blog. Just visit the web site and you’ll see a link there.

So please let us know what you think, give us feedback, post a comment on the blog. It’s all entirely free, all it costs you is a few minutes of your time and if you have a lesson to share with the rest of us, who knows, you might save someone some money and heartache!

This week’s stars
  • Khumo, yet again from Air Botswana for being brilliant.
  • Beverly from Nandos at Game City, yet again for being wonderful.
  • Marnie from the hair salon at the Grand Palm for not taking any nonsense from a stroppy customer.

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

One year ago, I took my Sharp microwave to a repair specialist for repair because it was not heating. They repaired it and gave it to me three times, but each time when I reach home it could not heat for more than ten minutes before it stops. Normally they test it for a few minutes before giving it to me, so I think its working.

The last time they had to collect it from my home to take it back, and promised to bring it back after repair. I have visited their workshop countless times to collect it, but every time they have a different excuse. Two months ago they promised to deliver it, but it has never reached.

Each time I call they tell me that they have it in their car and they are bringing it. I think this is because they don’t want me to go to their workshop to collect it anymore.

I desperately need your help, because I don’t know what to do anymore.

It does sound like you've suffered enough with this microwave and this repair job. I’m no specialist in microwave ovens but it should be simple enough for a store to tell you that they can either repair it or that they can’t. Clearly for whatever reason these people can’t do that for you.

Have you paid them anything for the repairs yet? If you haven’t paid them yet it might actually be simpler, quicker and possibly even cheaper to buy another new microwave. An entry-level microwave oven is only a few hundred Pula these days and it would come with a warranty.

On the other hand if you HAVE paid them some money already for the attempted repairs then you can demand that back. Section 15 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations says that a supplier “shall fail to meet minimum standards of performance” if the service they delivered “is not rendered with reasonable care and skill”. You deserve to get back anything you have paid them in full, no questions asked, no funny business, no arguments.

We’ll get in touch with them and see if they can come up with a sensible explanation for the delay and their failure to fix it for you.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I was referred to you by one of my friend, I sold my car to one shop on the 15th May 2009 and to this day they haven’t paid me. The unfortunate part is that after a week the car had some electrical fault, but despite that problem they have promised to pay my full amount, but even to this day they haven’t paid me

Your help will be highly appreciated, I’m happy to provide all the required details.

What did you sign when you sold it to them? Did you hand over the Blue Book to them? Did you sign a sale agreement? Hopefully there’s some paperwork that confirms they’ve bought it from you. Even if there isn’t I think you can still demand that they pay you the money they owe you. The fact that there was an electrical problem after they bought it from you isn’t relevant.

I would write them a letter giving them perhaps 7 days to pay you the full amount they agreed with you. Tell them politely that if they fail to do this you’ll tell the Consumer Protection Unit (Oooh, scary), Consumer Watchdog, The Voice and the Police.

I think that combination might have an effect, don’t you?

Dear Consumer’s Voice #3

[Note, we’ve removed the name of the company in question so we can contact them first.]
XXX Chemicals in a recent Advertiser put an advert which may be misleading to the consumers in that consumers might believe the air-fresheners advertised can actually kill the A(H1N1) virus in the air. I have actually had calls from my clients who enquired on whether we have similar products that can kill A(H1N1) in the air. We have exactly the same air-freshener but it has never been shown to kill A(H1N1) virus.

I believe this is unfair advertising and misleading to the consumers especially when they are in panic mode as it is the case right now. It would therefore be interesting to ask XXX Chemicals to substantiate their claim.

You’re absolutely right. We’ll get in touch with the company in question and see whether they have any evidence to substantiate their claims. I’m not an expert in these matters but I know some people who are and I’ll be asking them as well! Meanwhile a quick search of various scientific sources has led to no evidence that I can see.

If by any chance this company DOES have such a device it will be remarkable but if it turns out there’s no evidence at all to back up their claims then they have stepped WAY over the mark and they’re going to be in for trouble BIG TIME.

Friday, 21 August 2009

How to get rich quick

There’s a nice quote from Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin empire. When asked how best to become a millionaire he said you should “start by being a billionaire and then buy an airline”.

My point is that it is MUCH easier to lose money than to gain it. Most of us (myself included) find it easier to spend rather than save. It’s so much easier for money to slip out of my wallet than back into it.

It doesn’t help when there are people who do their best to “lubricate” our wallets. I‘m not talking about the Marketing industry whose job it is to persuade us that the latest gizmo, the latest ringtone, the latest fashionable thingy is something we can’t survive without. I’m not talking about the cross-selling call-centre operative who, while pretending it takes this long to get our account details, says something like “while you’re on the line Mr X, have you considered our extra-high-cost savings scheme?”

Of course I’m not talking about the efforts of anyone trying to sell you an Apple iPod. Possession of an iPod must surely now be a fundamental human right? In fact perhaps the United Nations, apart from protecting refugees and the victims of war, should just focus their efforts on giving every child in the world a football, some paper and pencils, every teenager a lifetime supply of condoms and every adult an iPod Touch and a wireless internet connection. It probably wouldn’t cost much more than what they do these days and it certainly would do more to educate, entertain and protect than they do at the moment.

Back to the subject. People trying to take your cash.

I saw an advertisement in one of the locals papers recently. It was very simple, very short, hidden away in the Classified section. It just said “New Business Opportunity – In Botswana. Visit www.richbotswana4u.com. That was it. Clearly not a prestigious company doing it’s best to market a wonderful product. Intrigued by some of the warning signs (words like “opportunity”, “new business” and “rich”) I went to the web site to have a look.

Let’s not beat about the bush. This is selling a pyramid scheme. The crudely constructed web site starts off with the teaser line “How Does The Idea of Potentially Earning P100,000 Per Month Deposited Directly To Your Botswana Bank Account, Sound To You?”

Frankly it would “sound” a bit better if you could master punctuation but that’s a minor complaint.

Then you get the now common denial of anything untoward.

“This is not a get rich quick scheme. Nor is it a "tactic" or some kind of trick for making money quickly. This is a leveraged business model that requires time and effort - either your own, or that of your team. This is a new business opportunity in Botswana where you have the ‘ground floor opportunity’ - what we sometimes call the ‘first mover advantage’”. As well as this there’s the usual pyramid selling stuff about financial freedom, paying off bills and “earning as much as you want”.

It didn’t take much research to establish that this is a recruitment mechanism for a pyramid scheme called “Cruise to Cash” being operated here by someone called Meshack More. He even has his picture on his web site to help you identify him in the street.

Cruise to Cash is another of the scams based on selling travel discount schemes. According to one site I found that discusses the mechanics of this scheme each entrant buys the chance to sell discount travel vouchers to other victims. Each of these can earn you $977 but they are, in fact, worthless. Like all pyramid schemes the issue here is not the vouchers, it’s the new recruits that need to join to contribute their cash. Every new person you recruit buys a voucher and you share the money with the person who recruited you.

The trouble with all these vouchers is that they are worthless. As well as being scams, what they offer you is something you can get for free elsewhere. If you register, entirely for free, with many hotel chains they will send you, again entirely for free, some amazing discounts, just so they can keep their hotels occupied during quiet times. A few years ago I stayed in a top of the range hotel in Cape Town for less than 20% of the normal rate, just by registering my details on their web site and picking up an offer they sent me. Go to Bid2Stay.co.za and you can tell an entire hotel chain what you want to pay to stay at any of their hotels. Travel discounts are not something you need to pay for.

If these travel pyramids offer something you can get elsewhere for free why would you want to waste your money?

So how can you get rich quickly? There ARE some tried and tested approaches. You can marry a rich widow, be the child of a billionaire or win a lottery. The trouble is that very few of us can achieve these things. The other approach is actually to start your own pyramid scheme. The founders of pyramid schemes are the only ones who profit from them.

In fact, if I had any commercial sense I’d offer you all the chance to pay me some cash to start up your own little Consumer Watchdog and licence you to start up others beneath you. However some reasons I’m not doing so are that I have a conscience, I’m not a scammer and I’m most certainly not the sort of scumbag who would fleece my neighbours.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

I get a comment

I had a very courageous comment from "Anonymous" who commented on the piece on the BioDisc and Questnet that appears here.

The comments go like this.
HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!
you every country Questnet started in we experienced this negative ish!!!! it was banned in Malaysia and India, Iran 8 years ago...
today it has made over 1,000 millionaires in each country!
yes it may b a load of bull!( you may thnk that)
you are allowed to!
you know people said that about Amway when it started! it is not a scam!!! Questnet is the fastest growing network marketing company in the world! dont need to go into detail bout anything thats happened and the big markets...
just know that Questnet is going to take Southern Africa by storm! i'm already making big mulas, and m only 20!!!! w8 and see sir!
Yes, I DO think it's a lot of "bull". No, Questnet has NOT made "over 1,000 millionaires" in every country. Provide evidence for that claim.

For your information, there are people (like me) who still criticise Amway. The vast majority of people who get involved in Amway make no money from them either. Want evidence?

If you are so confident of your claims why won't you give your name?

Friday, 14 August 2009

How are the mighty fallen

We are sometimes asked what is the single most important thing an organisation can do to make sure that the service they deliver to consumers is as good as possible.

The answer is quite simple. Get a manager who cares.

An organisation can spend all it wants on training, it can hire the most talented staff, it can buy enormously expensive equipment but if the CEO doesn’t give a damn then the service will suck. Simple as that.

The trouble is that so many organisations think it’s more complicated than that. They think they should develop fancy mission statements, have endless policies and procedures, go on vastly expensive seminars and workshops and basically throw staggering quantities of cash away if they want things to improve. I’m not saying that these things can’t help at all but they should come later. They should also only be seen as tools, not solutions themselves.

I can think of a very large organisation that has invested truly epic amounts of money on engaging consultants, setting customer service standards, measuring their current levels of customer satisfaction and publicising them but in fact very little has changed. The reason? The person at the top, the person responsible for making the improvements that they so desperately need doesn’t really care. She’s just going along with it because the people above her put it in her job description. Her heart isn’t actually in it.

However, I can think of another organisation whose CEO recently departed for a better job (no, we shouldn’t be surprised and no, I won’t tell you who it was but some of you can no doubt guess) who DID care. This particular CEO was actually the opposite of the stereotypical CEO or MD. Unlike some business leaders who seem to think that leadership is demonstrated by shouting a lot, being a huge “personality” and having a fan club of pretty young girls follow you around all over town, this CEO was surprising. He was fairly quiet, thoughtful and almost reserved. In meetings he would be the one sitting there thinking about what you were saying, giving it serious consideration and then making a remarkably intelligent comment. Critically though, he cared, he really did. That care filtered down the organisation and everyone knew that he was watching. The employees who showed a similar level of care were rewarded, those who didn’t suffered a less pleasant fate.

It was only once people understood what this CEO expected that they engaged consultants, went on expensive training programs and attended the occasional ridiculously expensive seminar by some visiting “guru” or worse still the guru’s son. By the time you’re reading this we will have been visited by the Prince of Wales of Business, the son of Stephen Covey, the imaginatively named, errr… Stephen Covey. OK, he’s actually called Stephen M R Covey and he follows in his father’s footsteps. His Dad of course wrote that business classic, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Who Have Too Much Time at Airports”. Covey Junior has inherited the family business of travelling the world telling us the blindingly obvious for vast amounts of money and as you read this he’s no doubt counting his money from the seminar he attended at the GICC last Thursday.

I saw another example of the impact of leadership (or more precisely the lack of it) a few days ago. My kids were going to the cinema but needing feeding beforehand. Our restaurant of choice at Riverwalk was so busy there wasn’t even standing room. Despite going for a walk to kill some time the place was simply too busy to serve us so we decided to go downstairs to another establishment, a place we had always respected and enjoyed. With the restaurant upstairs full to bursting it was a surprise to find it’s rival downstairs barely a third full. Then we discovered why.

The service was crap. Not just by their previously high standards, I mean crap by anyone’s standards. They mucked up the food, missed certain items and, worst of all, I mean the crime of the century, they forgot my second glass of wine.

So where was the manager you may ask? Oh he was there. Not the owner / manager I knew, a new guy. Flouncing around in dark glasses and with a stylish beard he appeared to be doing precisely nothing. Did he come and see us when our order went wrong? Did he come and see us when the food was sub-standard? Did he come running with my second glass of wine? No, he didn’t.

“How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!” See, even a heathen knows a few good quotes. The tragedy is that this failing restaurant previously set such high standards, it was the example we always used of how good things could be. But what happened? Did the franchise change in nature? Was there a food-poisoning outbreak? Did they have all their staff arrested for being illegal immigrants? No, the problem was that the management took their eye off the ball.

Once there was no REAL management everything started to slip away. I know sometimes I can be a bit too literal but I think it’s worth asking where the word “manage” and hence “management” comes from. It comes from the Latin world “manus” which means “hand”. Management is literally “hands-on”. A manager isn’t just the guy who sits behind a desk doing the accounts, filing the tax returns and spending the profits. A manager must have his or her hands on the business every day, otherwise he’s just a waste of space.

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

The last few weeks have seen a huge range of scams but best of all there’s been a real backlash against them. Finally the authorities are taking action and arresting some of the crooks but better still we’ve seen something amazing.

A number of consumers contacted Consumer Watchdog alerting US to scams. These sceptical consumers had worked out for themselves that what they had seen was a scam and didn’t need our help. Many of them said that it was the details we’d given in The Voice that had educated them. They said that it was this column amongst others that had prepared them. They asked that we again cover again what consumers should look out for.

419 scams

Most people have heard of the “419” or “advance fee” scams. These are named after Section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code which outlaws “obtaining property by false pretences”. These scams begin with an unexpected email from a total stranger. This tells you of a large amount of money that is “trapped” somewhere and that you have been chosen to help them transfer the money out of the country. In exchange for your cooperation you are offered the chance to keep a large chunk of the cash.

When you contact them you are then led through a series of steps that boosts your confidence in the deal, that often gives you a solid hint that what you are doing is illegal and gets your total commitment to the deal. Then, just before you get your hands on this non-existent money, there is a hitch. In order to process the payment you have to pay a third party for something. It might be legal fees, an export fee or just a bribe to an intermediary. This is what the scam is all about. As soon as you pay this advance fee the people disappear completely, never to be heard from again.

Phishing

This is a very modern version of an old-fashioned deception. This usually starts as an email from what seems to be your bank asking you to visit a web site to confirm your personal or banking details for security reasons. The link in the email will actually direct you to a fake version of your bank’s web site. It will have been very cleverly constructed to look exactly like the real thing but in fact all it wants is for you to enter your username and password so that the authors can then use them to steal your money from the real web site.

Phishing is very easy to avoid if you obey one very simple rule. Never, ever, under any circumstances, click on a link in an email from what seems to be your bank. Your bank will never ask you to do this.

Job offers

These are the most common ones these days. An email arrives from what appears to be a recruitment agency in some far-flung place offering you a high-paid job. In fact this is almost exactly the same as the 419 scam. Once you have started a dialogue with the so-called agency you end up having to send them money, either as a fee or for the costs of your travel to the exotic place they tempt you with.

How to spot a scam

So what tools and techniques can you use to spot a scam? Is it difficult to know when someone’s trying to rip you off? Luckily there are some obvious clues you can spot and some easy tricks you can use.

Spelling

It doesn’t matter what language it’s written in, but every email we’ve seen from scammers has terrible spelling and grammar. They are clearly written by people who aren’t using their first language. It’s surprising considering that every computer these days had a built-in spell checker but scammers don’t seem to care.

It may seem pompous but you should be skeptical of people who can’t spell when they invite you to part with your money.

Free email accounts

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a Yahoo, Hotmail or Gmail email account. Most of us have one that we use when we’re away from the office or home or when our normal email has gone wrong. It’s perfectly OK. But a real business doesn’t use them. A real business will use a commercial email domain. That’s the part of the email address after the @ symbol. Look carefully to see what that domain is and them make a judgement on how trustworthy it looks.

Clarity

A genuine offer of a product or service that is real will say so clearly, obviously and without any vagueness. It will be perfectly clear what is on offer.

Use the Internet

Go to Google and search for the name of the person or company who emailed you. If it has more than one word in the title put in quotes. Search for something like “John Major Foundation” in quotes. Then do an identical search but put words like “scam” “complaint” and “problem” at the end of your search. Almost certainly someone else will have discovered it’s a scam before you and done the neighbourly thing by posting a report on the internet.

Consumer Watchdog

Use us. We’re professional skeptics. Feel free to call or email us and ask for advice. It’s entirely free and we’ll do our best to tell you whether we think you’re being scammed.

Be skeptical

Switch on the skeptical part of your brain. Then never switch it off again. Right now there is someone out there who will try to scam you out of your money. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Nigerian 419 scammer, a dubious investment scheme, a pyramid selling scheme or a fake preacher in a Mercedes, they want your money and the best weapon you have is your brain.

Use it!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

This week it’s all about the offers of miraculous health benefits we see in advertisements. These things affect our health and well-being as well as our bank balances. Be warned and be careful!

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I saw an advertisement in the paper offering an “amazing business opportunity sweeping southern Africa”. It said “The planets water quality is fast deteriorating”. It mentioned a water ionizer but also offered a “strong residual ordering base” and the opportunity to become “the first distributor in your country”.

Do you think I should take this further?

No.

I took a look at the web site of the company that is offering this and I was very suspicious. Firstly, as they say in the advertisement, none of this is free. The advert says that you have to pay them P80,000 to buy the opportunity to sell their product. Yes, eighty thousand Pula. That’s before you’ve sold a single thing.

Effectively what they are selling is a franchise operation. Of course there’s nothing inherently wrong with franchise operations. Spur, Primi Piatti and Wimpy are all franchise operations and they’re perfectly respectable. However, why would you want to pay money to join a franchise nobody has ever heard of?

Then there is the product they are selling. Their product is a “water ioniser” they call the “AquaSmarter Ionizing Capsule”. This is a lump of plastic that you put “into liquids such as water, diesel fuel, milk and juices which passes through the Specially-Designed Patented Ionizing Capsule and automatically regulates the Copper Ions (Cu++) and Silver Ions (Ag+) produced from the AquaSmarter Capsule when submerged in these various type liquids. This process is also known as Electro Galvanic Action.”

I’m not a Chemistry teacher but I do know a little about chemistry and better still I can use Google. This is all utter rubbish. There is no such thing as ionised water. No, there’s not. Look at this article on our web site and you’ll see links (1, 2, 3) showing evidence for this.

Curiously for something they claim is so miraculous, the manufacturers have a long disclaimer on their web site. I won’t quote it all but roughly speaking it says that their silly product doesn’t work and they won’t be held accountable for any promises made by anyone selling either it or the franchise operation.

So, no, please don’t waste your time or money on this.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I saw an advertisement offering herbal medicines to help me lose weight. Do you think they work?

Sorry, same answer as above.

The advertisement from Herbex Health claims that their product range is “scientifically balanced to assist effective weight loss naturally”. If you visit their web site you’ll find the usual nonsense sold by the herbal medicine industry. There’s plenty of stuff about how products from the pharmaceutical industry have side effects, how Herbex’s products are “totally natural and contain no harmful chemicals or additives” and lots of pictures of healthy, beautiful people who we can all aspire to be.

Their slimming product range offers a range of wonders including ingredients that “improve your entire digestive system”, “assist your body to burn up fats” and “develop a positive self-image”.

There is a section on their web site that reassures visitors that all of their products are safe for children, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, diabetics, people with thyroid problems, those taking anti-depressants, epileptics and most importantly, the hopelessly na├»ve. Their products are perfectly safe because they don’t actually DO anything, that’s why.

Please don’t waste your money on this nonsense. If you want to lose weight then the solution is actually very simple. It’s not always easy to actually do, but we all know what it is. Eat less rubbish and take more exercise. That’s always been the way people lose weight and peddlers of miracle cures haven’t come up with anything better yet.

A bit of good news.

The authorities are catching up with Consumer Watchdog and The Voice! The Director of Intelligence and Security has issued a warning to all of us about “the existence of unscrupulous individuals and companies, operated by both Batswana and foreigners, which are currently preying upon unsuspecting citizens with false promises of obtaining employment, study and/or travel opportunities outside of Botswana”.

I think he means the crooks we exposed who call themselves Transition Abroad and who a few months ago were calling themselves “ITA Work and Travel”. The ones who get you to pay them vast amounts of cash for the fake chance of a highly paid job abroad. The ones who lie, fake visas and steal money.

It goes on to say that “the Office of the Minister for Defence, Justice and Security advises the public to exercise caution in dealing with situations that promise overseas opportunities.”

Finally it encourages “the public to come forward and check the bona fide of such offers with the Directorate of Intelligence and Security, through their toll free telephone number 0-800-600-761.”

Good for them. It’s good to hear that the authorities are taking some action and taking the fight back to the crooks.

As always you can also contact us for advice on this or any other suspicious subject.

Worthless ebooks - Updated

We were contacted by a consumer who received an unsolicited email:
From: Charles
Dear Friend,
I'm going to offer you an *incredible* deal. You can buy all 28 of the ebooks below for only $ 19.95 (Pula 140)! That's right, that's only *USD 7 cents( Pula 5) per ebook! *You'll get over *180 chapters*
Each and every ebook contains 28 *amazing* tips, strategies and secrets.
*"Download All 28 eBooks *
*Immediately After Ordering!"*
*The best part is that you can buy them online with ANY CREDIT card or ANY DEBIT card featuring the VISA ELECTRON logo
*To order by credit card or debite card online *over a secure server
We've seen some of the ebooks on offer. They're also available elsewhere entirely free (legitimately or not I don't know) but more importantly they're not worth a thebe, cent or penny. All they offer is advice such as:
Offer easy navigation. People will leave quicker if they have a hard time finding what they're looking for.
Wow. Don't waste your money.

-----

UPDATE

I emailed Charles and asked him about these ebooks and he responded very politely suggesting that anyone he emailed can unsubscribe from his mailing list whenever they want to.

A little later one of the consumers who had received the initial invitation got a follow-up from Charles withdrawing the offer of the ebooks and offering anyone who had purchased them a complete refund! Result!