Saturday, 25 June 2011

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

Last year at our school a guy came advertising his product on loaning money using the same rates used at the Bank. At our school six of us took loans. I took P12,000 first and later another P7,000 which had to be paid over in a year from May 2010. This year in May 2011 when l thought l was finishing in April, he said it has to go on for another year. Each month l have been paying P2,566 for the past 13 months. I cannot continue, please help me. I feel cheated as this will amount to over P70,000.

We have demanded for the last year’s statements many times but he is reluctant to forward them to us. He only gave us the break down on what we are owing him.

I’m pretty good at maths but I can’t make these numbers work out. I can’t find a way by which a monthly payment of P2,566 will enable you ever to pay off this debt unless the lender is charging an unbelievably low rate of interest and I seriously doubt that. I think you can safely assume that when he said he offered the same loan rates as the banks he was lying.

I think you should continue to demand a full breakdown of the debt you have with this company, including a list of every payment and details of the interest rate they are charging.

I also suggest that you get them to confirm that they are registered with the NBFIRA, the Non Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority. That’s the body empowered to regulate money-lenders like this company. Let’s see what they have to say about this situation.

Update: I’ve contacted the company in question, "The Paganga Group, Car Sales and Micro-lenders", and they won’t tell me whether they’ll give you a full statement of your debt. All they’ve said is:
“Where in the world would u receive statement on closed accounts. In any fact no one was refused access to old statements” (and that they) “don’t jump to confused pple who fail to manage their finances.”
I’ve asked them several times to explain what this all means but I’ve had no further response. I suggest that until you get a statement you shouldn’t pay them a single thebe. Also I suggest you complain to NBFIRA. I’ll happily help you draft the letter.

Update 2: Just heard from the reader that she received a threatening text message warning her not to “try any tricks”. Call the cops! Harassment.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I am aware of various notices one would see at supermarkets that says "please leave your personal belongings at your own risk". Is this acceptable?

I think by accepting our parcels in the first place, the supermarket will need to take responsibility should anything happen to them .I happened to one day leave my grocery at one particular supermarket here in Gaborone. They gave me the parcel token but upon return I found that the parcel counter assistant had mistakenly given my stuff to somebody else. Who is to blame here? Luckily the store manager was understanding and had to replace the grocery at the store's expense.

I think you were very lucky to get you groceries replaced by the store owner. Please let us know which store it was so we can celebrate them for doing the decent thing?

I have great concerns about this business of leaving goods at the parcel counter, particularly when the store puts up a sign like the one you mention. Yes, I think they certainly ARE morally responsible for your property however they try to escape their legal responsibilities. Personally I always refuse to leave my bags there, certainly when I’m carrying something valuable like my laptop bag. On the other hand I DO understand the challenge presented by thieves and stores are within their rights to do something to protect themselves. However we’re also within our rights to complain about it when it’s irritating, insulting or when they lose things.

Last week I went into an electronics store in Gaborone with my laptop bag over my shoulder and they stopped me and insisted I leave it at the door. I politely refused and explained why. They then courteously asked to see inside the bag and let me in. They even politely thanked me when I left so clearly it IS possible for stores to protect themselves without being rude about it.

While I understand that stores face a problem with theft I also think that it’s up to the stores to come up with a way of protecting themselves that doesn’t suggest that all the law-abiding shoppers are thieving criminals. It’s their job, not ours.

If they don’t they might just find that shoppers like you and me will take our money to stores where they don’t treat us like criminals.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #3

I am writing you seeking assistance and guidance on a company I used to register a company for me after seeing their advert in a local newspaper.

I paid deposit as was their way of doing business. I paid two further installments, one in February and the next in March. The agreement was to pay the balance when I get the certificate.

Up to now I have not yet gotten the certificate, its always a new story and a new employee. I wrote them a letter to complain and I just got an acknowledgement of the letter and nothing tangible yet. I have suffered monetary costs in following up, delays in doing business and frustration of not getting what I wanted.

You’ve been patient enough. I suggest that you send them one last letter saying that unless you have the certificate or a full refund within 7 days you’ll be taking them to the Small Claims Court.

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