Friday, 29 April 2011

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I received an email saying that I had won the Yahoo, AOL, Windows Live Online Lottery. It says I have won £1,350,000? Can this be true?

No, this is a scam. If you look closely at the email you received you’ll see a variety of clues. Firstly, there’s no such lottery. Companies like Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL do no collaborate on anything, they’re fierce rivals. Then there’s a simple fact everyone should understand. You can’t win a lottery that you haven’t entered. Nobody ever has, nobody ever will.

Then there are the other clues. The address they give is wrong and their email is dreadfully written. Wouldn’t you think that a letter from companies like these would have the language perfect?

At no point in the email do they use your name or any other identifying fact like an email address. How do they know it’s you that’s won?

Finally, why do you think they give a contact person who is based in South Africa, not the UK?

So why did they send you this email? That’s because this is yet another “advance fee” scam. Trust me, just before they say they’re sending you the money there’ll be a last minute hitch, perhaps a customs fee, a tax or even a bribe that they demand that YOU pay. It will probably be only a few hundred dollars but they’ll need you to pay it via Western Union and that’s when you’ll never see them again. That’s what the whole thing is about.

Just delete the email and any others like it.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I was bumped by another car in October last year. The person who bumped me didn’t have any problem in paying for the damage using her insurance. My car is also insured, my insurer paid the amount for my car to be fixed. Then the second party is supposed to pay the damage to me but the insurance company said they are going to claim the amount from the second party which I think she should pay me since my insurance have paid from my account and they increase the monthly premium. I think they are reaping me, because if I paid why do they claim from the second party? Please advise accordingly.

Every month you pay your insurance company a premium in case a problem happens. In your case it covered you against problems such as fire, theft or an accident. Luckily the other person was also covered and her insurance policy covers her for any damage she does to other people’s cars.

Because she crashed into you and accepted blame for the accident, her insurance company is responsible for paying for the repairs to your car and any excess you may have had to pay to your insurers. This means that the accident should not have cost you anything and the car should have been restored to its original condition.

You’re not entitled to the money that your insurance company will recover from the other party's insurance company because your car repair has already been paid for. The only money you are entitled to receive is any “excess” amount your insurer might have charged you.

It’s important to understand that when you buy an insurance policy you are paying the insurance company to take on the risks associated with your vehicle. They’ll pay for the repairs to your car or the value of your car if it is stolen. The way that it works is that the premiums paid by all customers are pooled and the insurance company will use that pool to cover the losses they incur from the few customers who make claims.

Asking for the money from the other driver’s insurance company is asking for a double payment that you’re not entitled to.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #3

I found a leaflet on my car offering my the chance to earn P500 per month. It also said I could earn $1 million annually. Can this be true?

Of course not. It’s a lie.

The leaflet is from a local distributor of Herbalife products. I have no particular problem with health products, so long as they’re shown to be safe and aren’t used instead of real medicine, but I do have a problem with any multi-level marketing program and Herbalife is a good example of how it can go wrong.

The problem, as we’ve seen in the past with Herbalife, is that they have no direct control over their distributors. In November last year, the same distributor who produced the leaflet you saw claimed that he had Herbalife cures for prostate cancer and could help someone with AIDS to improve their CD4 count. That was simply a blatant lie from a blatant liar. He’s now claiming to have guaranteed weight loss products, which of course you only get to see after a joining fee of P851.

But what about the chance to make that $1 million? Can that be true?

Certainly not. As with all MLM companies the income you end up making is tiny. In fact Herbalife is forced to disclose the earnings their “Leaders” make each year. In 2009 they disclosed that less than 2% of their distributors earn more than two thirds of all the collective earnings. Nearly 90% of their distributors had an average “annual gross compensation paid by Herbalife” of a mere $478. And that’s not profit, that’s the income before you’ve paid your phone bill, your travelling expenses, bought all the materials and taken care of every other cost.

So no, I suggest you tear up your leaflet and ignore these false promises.

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