Friday, 19 October 2012

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I have a registered catering company and have catered for management training sessions for a company from January to March this year. We had a verbal agreement for payments to be made 30 days after service. I requested a promissory note from the Director of the company, which he wrote, acknowledging and indicating that the last payment would be made by the end of July. The last but one payment was made in August after numerous calls and pestering. They now have an outstanding balance of over P8,000 to date.

I want my dues please help!

Firstly I think this teaches us a lesson about verbal agreements. Don’t make them. In business things like this are ALWAYS put in writing. Verbal agreement are only for your most trusted friends and family.

I think you’ve been patient enough. You are owed a large amount of money by someone who has also acknowledged his debt in writing. It should be simple enough.

I suggest that you write the Director a simple letter saying that unless he honors his debt to you in full within seven days you’ll be seeking an order from the Small Claims Court. Tell him that once you have that order you’ll be taking immediate action to get your money back.

Please let me know how he responds!

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I was called recently by a hotel chain in South Africa offering me membership of their scheme that they say give me big discounts on hotel stays. Do you think I should join or is it a waste of money?

My opinion is simple. These schemes simply aren’t worth the joining fee, which is often more than P2,000. To begin with the discounts they offer aren’t real discounts. They’re only discounted from the full rate that the hotels publish but there are many other ways of getting discounts without paying to join clubs or schemes. For instance you can go to and get significant discounts entirely for free.

Then there’s the slightly shady way many of them operate. We’ve heard from many readers who get these calls and are suckered into disclosing their card details, often being told that it’s just to check their status or whether they qualify for higher-level membership. Before they know it, and without their permission, their account is charged the full membership fee.

What’s worse is that like many holiday club schemes it’s then almost impossible to cancel your membership. Holiday clubs in particular often have a non-cancellation clause in their contract. You’re stuck with them for life.

My suggestion is simple. Don’t join any scheme like these unless you are absolutely clear what you get for your money and that you can change your mind whenever you please.

The BMW M3 that was offered.
The BMW M5 scam

We heard from a reader who had been offered a car at a remarkably good price. The seller, who called himself “Albert Camron”, claimed that he had moved from Botswana to Benin and taken his 2006 BMW M5 with him. He said that the “constitution here does not allow the Right Hand Drive car, that is a problem that I have so I decided to give the car away to anybody who can ship the car back to Botswana and take care of it well.” He went on to say that he was “giving it away on donation”.

According to the seller he’d transported the car to his new home in Benin for P16,000 and it would cost another P22,000 to transport it back to Botswana. That’s all he wanted for the car, to have his transport costs reimbursed.

Do you suspect a scam yet? I do. The transport company he said the victim should pay doesn’t actually exist and has been used in other scams before. There is no trace of an Albert Camron living in Botswana. Total strangers don’t “donate” BMW M5s. They just don’t.

This is a scam, you’ve been warned!

Update: Here's another picture of a BMW M5, taken from the web site of Ivel Car Sales Ltd in the UK. What a coincidence!

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