Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I am about to register with UNISA to study BA in human science communication. Another online university (universal degrees) claim they can offer me this in 15 days

Do you think this is legit?

No. Certainly not.

“Universal degrees” is no more than a web site that will take your money and offer you a fake degree from an equally fake university. In fact they claim to offer degrees from “Corllins University”, a university that also exists solely on the internet. The fake university claims to be registered and accredited by the “Accreditation Panel for Online Colleges and Universities”, yet another fake body.

The web site you visited says clearly that once they’ve assessed your “life experience” you can get a degree from them for US$949. A PhD costs a bit more, $1,289. Remember that all of these qualifications can be acquired entirely without any work by you.

One facility they offer on their web site is to chat online to a “Senior Advisor”. A few clicks later and I was talking to “Calvin Carter” who explained how this works. He told me that they:
“take down your life experience (…) convert them into credit hours, if these credit hours are equivalent to the credit hours that are require to complete your desired degree then you qualify and we award the degrees accordingly (…) we make sure that the documents are shipped out to you in the next 10 working days.”
He also explained that if I buy their “Combinational Degree Package” which includes a bachelors, masters and PhD degree and which will cost $1,576, they can backdate the lesser degrees to earlier dates. Calvin told me that this could all be done with “no classes, courses and no exam” and I would have my degree certificates within 15 days. And the degree subject I wanted? Nursing.

I think by now we know that this is all a fraud and a scam? “Universal degrees” is a fake provider of fake degrees from a fake university. Don’t waste your money on fake goods. Get the real thing instead from a real university.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I have recently come across a company called Iforex over the internet which offers online trading in currencies. Their spokesperson says they are based in Greece and that they are regulated by the Hungarian Services Authority. Please find out for me if they are genuine and safe to do business with. They require an initial deposit of $100 to start trading online. The activity is done through a credit card. What are the risks if any? Can you offer any information that might help me?

I’m not an expert in currency trading but I do think I can smell something suspicious when it comes nearby. I have a real concern about the company you mention and the services they offer. They try hard to give the impression that trading is simple to do but take a look at the page they hide away entitled “Risk warning”. See if you can understand this section:
“A margin call may occur even when an account is fully hedged, since spreads may widen, causing the remaining margin in the account to diminish. Should the remaining margin be insufficient to maintain any open positions, the account may sustain a margin call, closing out any open positions in the account.”
No, neither can I. The critical thing to understand is that if you don’t fully understand all that jargon then you shouldn’t be risking your money. The “Risk warning” page contains over 3,000 words of warning.

It didn’t take me long to find a range of warnings from experts that amateur currency exchange is full of dangers. If these reports are to be trusted the vast majority of amateurs who trade in currencies lose lots of money. It’s not worth the risk.

A celebration

A couple of months ago we reported on a sports store that sold a customer a P499 pair of Levi’s “fashion shoes” that very quickly started to fall apart. When he complained to the store he was told that it was all his fault because he shouldn’t have gone dancing in them.

The customer was shocked. So were we. The store later got extremely angry when we reported on the story, threatening us with hellfire and damnation unless we retracted the story. We didn’t, it’s still there on our blog for all to see. In fact, because we always offer suppliers a right of reply we printed a response from the store. Such a shame it showed such contempt for their customers. For instance it included this comment which tells you all you need to know about their attitude towards customers:
“Customers must read this policy before they decide to buy anything in the shop. If they are not happy with the policy they should not buy. We do not force anybody to buy our products in the shop.”
Rather than deal with a bully I called Levi’s in South Africa and explained the situation. They were horrified that a Levi’s customer had been treated so badly by the store. Without hesitation they dispatched a brand new, better pair of shoes to the customer, entirely for free.

The customer is delighted both with the shoes and the response from Levi’s. So this week we celebrate Levi’s for showing that they’re company that knows how to treat customers.

Unlike you know who.

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