Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I opened a store account in 2005. I was retrenched in April 2010 and went into arrears. I tried to pay but a month later a friend told me that you I should have registered for their account protection plan. I checked my statements and realized that all these years I had been paying for this protection which covered me for death, disability and retrenchment.

I spoke to someone at their call center who acknowledged I was covered and asked me to send the details of my retrenchment. I did and they acknowledged that they got the information and they will get back to me once everything has been processed. I waited and months later was told there was no information about my retrenchment and they later took me to debt collector. I gave the debt collectors all the documents I had when I was communicating with the store. They even advised that they were experiencing the same problem with other customers and they didn’t contact me again.

Now the store say I filed the application too late. I tried to explain that I did this all long back and nobody helped. I even got a letter from a manager acknowledging that I am entitled to benefits. I’ve spoken to many people here and in SA but nobody can help me.

Now I don’t know where to start. They’ve told me that the plan only works if I request it within 3 months. I tried to explain that I faxed them two months after my retrenchment and even have proof that it went through but they refused. What can I do?

This is beyond a joke. You paid the Account Protection Plan for 5 years and you are entitled to make a claim and get paid. I checked and actually you had 120 days to submit a claim.

Send them a letter with copies of the documents about your retrenchment, the previous correspondence you received from them and demand that they sort out this mess. Send a copy to the branch where you originally opened the account and their South African Head Office. Make sure you tell them you’ve told us about it as well. We’ll also get in touch with them and politely encourage them to get a move on.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I need your help in checking a school in South Africa. My friend is interested in attending it but I’ve been skeptical about it. For instance the longest course they offer runs for 20 days, while most are for just 10-15 days. They offer technical courses like rigging and welding at fees of up to R9,000 all of which must be paid up front and is non-refundable. Also they claim that no one can fail because they offer practical courses which doesn’t sound right because practical courses can be failed even if it were 100% practical and no theory.

You’re right to be suspicious. I’ve emailed them asking them about the courses you can’t fail and the fees up front. I also asked them about the claim on their web site that they’ve been operating since 1999 when they only registered as a company in 2009 but I haven’t heard from them yet. It’s all too suspicious.

World Business Guide – a warning

We’ve heard from several people in Botswana and elsewhere in the region who asked for advice about the World Business Guide. It’s simple. This online directory is a scam.

They invite you, usually by fax to your office, to enter your details into their directory, assuring you that “Updating is free of charge”. They rely on someone in your office filling in the details and returning the completed form without reading the small print. That’s where it says, in letters so small that often they can’t be read, that entering your details actually costs €995, over P5,000 per year. They’ll then send you an invoice and refuse to accept your explanation that it was all a mistake. They’ll threaten you with legal action until they get their money.

So should you pay up? Certainly not. This is no more than a scam. What’s more they have never actually taken legal action against anyone, simply because they know any magistrate or judge would just laugh at their claims. If you hear from them please just ignore them. Either that or sent them an extremely rude email. Remember that it’s perfectly acceptable to be rude to scammers!

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