Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I bought a vehicle in March 2010 from a car dealership in Mogoditshane. The licensing and registration of the vehicle was done by the owner of the dealership.

This year my husband went to the post office to renew the license but was told that the vehicle has been suspended because of a customs problem. He went to the BURS office and was told by the investigating officer that he needs to see proof that the vehicle was cleared and paid for, otherwise by law he has to impound the vehicle. He said that if we are unable to provide proof, we must write a letter agreeing to pay the customs duty and VAT. BURS will have the vehicle valued and that we should pay 32% customs duty plus 12% VAT.

We spoke to the owner of the dealership and he has been very uncooperative saying that he does not have any paperwork as he didn’t clear the vehicle, it was done by a company in Gaborone who should have the receipts. He has also said that this has nothing to do with him because if the customs duty was not paid, how was he able to register and license the vehicle?

And people wonder why second-hand car dealers have a bad reputation?

Unfortunately this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of this situation. A car dealer imports a car from some distant country, neglects somehow to pay the duties that BURS applies, sells it to an innocent purchaser and some while later when the car is either sold again or even just re-registered the unpaid tax comes back and slaps the new owner in the face.

There is a valid question to be asked. How did the importer manage to register the vehicle when there was duty outstanding? But that doesn’t actually matter. What matters is that the dealer sold you something that he shouldn’t have sold. I don’t believe that he didn’t know that the duty hadn’t been paid. If he was a regular importer he would have known about these things.

I think you can argue that he sold you the vehicle under false pretenses. He should either have explained to you that there was an amount of money still outstanding or he should have just paid it himself.

Given that the dealer doesn’t want to cooperate I suggest that first of all you make a formal complaint to BURS about him. Perhaps suggest that he deliberately sold you this car while knowing that duty and VAT hadn’t been paid. Suggest that he should be investigated for tax evasion.

My experience of BURS is that they’re reasonable people. So long as they understand that you’re being open and honest with them then they’re going to be reasonable with you.

You should also write to the dealer who sold you the vehicle and demand that he either settle the debt directly with BURS or give you the money so you can pay them. Let him know that you’re reported this to BURS and to us. Give him seven days to comply or you’ll take whatever action you consider necessary. Let me know how he reacts!

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I want to settle a debt that I have with a cash loan company. I took a loan of P970 from them in 2010 which I was supposed to pay with 30% interest over two months. They took my ATM card and withdrew P900 from the account the first time. I stopped work for sometime and unfortunately I never went to them to explain to them that I was not working at the time which I admit is very wrong on my part. I just recently acquired a good job and I am trying to get rid of my debts. The lender is now saying I owe them over P2,700. I was just wondering if they are not only allowed to charge me maximum of P1,940. I am thinking of going to NBFIRA to get clarity on the matter, should I do so?

Firstly let me congratulate you on doing your best to pay your debts. Your honesty is praiseworthy.

The "in duplum" rule applies here. At the time of the settlement of a debt, the interest charged may not exceed the capital amount outstanding. A lender is probably entitled to add an amount for administration but that should be a reasonable amount.

The problem with many micro-lenders is that they are very unclear about the repayment mechanism. The P900 they took from you, do they consider that interest or capital, for instance?

I suggest that you give them a letter stating that you are perfectly prepared to repay them but only once you’ve received a comprehensive statement of your debt. It must show the money they lent you, the repayments you made and the interest they applied.

I also suggest that you let them know you've alerted us and that you will also be informing NBFIRA of the situation.

Let me know how this goes??

P.S. The reader told us the name of the cash loan company and guess what? When we called them asking for a loan they said they would take our ATM card from us during the term of the loan. Despite this having been outlawed by NBFIRA? We’ll be telling NBFIRA about this!

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