Saturday, 22 September 2018

Radio show notes - week beginning 17th September 2018

Source: Wikipedia
1. Can the bank move my money around?

"I have accounts with my bank for a long time and was credited with various debit and credit cards. All has been smooth for all the years until I failed for the first time to pay my loan monthly instalment and, within a week, they transferred all the balances into my loan account without prior communication. Please assist."

Can banks do this? Can they transfer from account A to account B without you consent?

Yes, because you told them they could. You might not remember doing so, in fact you might not ever have done this knowingly but hidden deep in your loan agreement was a clause saying they could do exactly this.

However, it would have been polite for them to have called or emailed you in advance, don't you think?

2. Should they repair the TV?

"I lay-byed the television just two months ago and I took it home for use. A week after the purchase my TV slightly hit a wall when it went dark. Two days later I went back to the store to inform them about the damaged product, they did not help me and so I decided to look for help were I could find it better, Consumer Watchdog. I bought this television very expensively and it's really sad and heart breaking to lose such much money on a product I never really used and enjoyed."

The warranty that comes with items like this only covers you against manufacturing or design faults, not accidental damage while the item is in your custody.

Ask yourself this. Who caused the damage? Did the store? No. Did the manufacturer? No. Did the customer? It looks like it.

IF this consumer had taken out a household insurance policy they might have been covered. Yes, insurance can seem expensive, but it's often not as expensive as not having insurance.

3. Will they really delete my email?

In comes an email that many other people have received.

“Dear watchdog, Our record indicates that you recently made a request to shutdown your e-mail and this request will be processed shortly. If this request was made accidentally and you have no knowledge of it, you are advised to cancel the request now. However, if you do not cancel this request your account will be shutdown shortly and all your email data will be lost permanently.”


Seems worrying. I can imagine how someone would be tempted to click on the link to prevent their email being "lost permanently". However...

If you hold you mouse pointer over the "Cancel De-activation" link, you see this, where the link will really take you:

Why would our email provider, who are based in Botswana, link to a domain in Poland (".pl")? Note also that the link includes the email address that was targeted. Clicking on this link will confirm to the scammers behind this that this is a valid email address, just making future attacks more likely.

I removed the email address from the link and went there. Be careful if you ever do this yourself. The web site (which has now been removed) provided a form that asked for my email address and password. Imagine what scammers could do if they had access to all your email? What could they discover about you? What passwords, bank account details and guilty secrets are stored in your online email account?

4. Longrich – is it a pyramid scheme?

Someone posted an invitation in the Consumer Watchdog Facebook group to join a WhatsApp conversation. I joined the WhatsApp conversation to see what was happening. It turned out to be for Longrich.

They claimed that
“we have supplements, skin care, toiletries ,weight loss products. Buy a once off stock of R1000/ R1500/R2000/ R2500. you get pvs which are point that you accumulate and move ranks within the business. Recruit 3 members and teach them to do the same. you will register them under u. you also get pvs when your downlines join under you.”
They also claim to offer incentives to their recruits including:
“3 free international trips per year. R11200 cellphone incentive. R6200 petrol incentive. Minimum car incentive is R60 000 and maximum R600 000. Housing incentive worth 1.5 million.”
I then asked a simple question:
“is it possible to make money from Longrich without selling products?”
Their answer was very simple:
“Yes”
Section 9 of the brand new, 2018 Consumer Protection Act says that:
“A person shall not directly or indirectly promote, or knowingly join, enter or participate, or cause any other person to promote, join, enter or participate in… A pyramid scheme”
A pyramid scheme is defined in the Act as a scheme
“where participants in the scheme receive compensation derived primarily from their respective recruitment of other persons as participants”
So, is Longrich a pyramid scheme? At least one of its recruiters says so.

But there's more…

And it gets worse.

One of the people recruiting for Longrich posted a picture of various products she claimed to have purchased.



Included in this selection were Longrich's miracle sanitary pads, that appear to offer "Magnetic Energy", "Anion" and "Far infra-red"?


When various members of the Facebook group questioned her about these claims, she responded by claiming that:
“magnetic energy simply means the adhesive sticks better than other sanitary liners and pads. there is nowhere they have stated they have used magnetic energy.”
So she suggests that Longrich make no claims about "magnetic energy" relating to their sanitary pads? Really?

Take a look at the Longrich BioScience web site relating specifically to these pads. It claims that"
“Magnetic Strip provides 3 natural energies (magnetism, anion and far infrared) that greatly enhance blood circulation, cell vitality, detoxification, bio-enzymes, resistance to bacteria and immunity against any infection. It prevents many women problems.”
It goes on to claim that:
"Far-infrared can stimulate local blood circulation and micro-circulation, prevent gynaecological diseases and relieve dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain) by raising the temperature. Far-infrared can prevent and help to treat mens's prostate condition and hemorrhoids; it can absorb foot sweat and eliminate foot odor".
This is all pseudoscientific nonsense. Worse still, it's dangerous.

But there's more...

A member of the Facebook group contacted us privately saying that a relative had paid P2,500 to join Longrich earlier in the year and:
“up to now if you ask the results she gets upset apparently she needed three people under her to start earning which she had found but still those need 3 more people under each of them.”
She and others have explained how upsetting, humiliating and disruptive schemes like Longrich can be. They actively encourage recruits to recruit from among their circle fo friends, family members and workmates and this only has one effect, to ruin those relationships.

Longrich is, if you believe their own recruiters and the Laws of Botswana, a pyramid scheme that sells dangerous, illegal products and that ruins relationships.

I think the time has come, as have the right laws, to show these schemes the way to go home.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

The 2018 Consumer Watchdog Conference - Thanks!

The 2018 CW Conference - Thanks!

Having caught up on the coffee I missed during the event and getting some sleep, I think I’m approaching normality again. I’m now in a state to thank various people.


THE SPEAKERS

Potlako Mawande from the Gambling Authority and Renee Yezo from Ture Interior Architects spoke about the truly amazing space that they created for the Gambling Authority. Sorry Thuli Johnson and Potlako Mawande, I’ve been telling people to make up reasons to visit the GA to see how a parastatal can look. Maybe you should charge people for tours?

Cornelius Ramatlhakwane and Cliff Lekoko from BotswanaPost talked about how they transformed a parastatal into a profit-making entity for the first time in its history. Cornelius is an inspirational leader and he’s the sort I’d want my children to work for.

My dear friend and hero, Nkata Seleka from Sleek Foods told us about the progress they have made since she spoke at the 2016 conference. A massive deal with KFC Botswana, new products and a future involving exports to SA, she proves that we can make businesses and brands in Botswana. She’s an inspiration to us all.

We’ll overlook the next guy who spoke about social media and who then gave an update on the new protections the 2018 Consumer Protection Act offers us. He was terrible, we probably won’t be using him again.

Kabelo Binns from Hotwire was, as always, predictably inspiring, talking about the art of business and the qualities needed in creating a successful personal brand.

Uyapo Ndadi, another national hero and his associate Phatsimo Mphetolang spoke about the art of using the law to protect ourselves.

Professor Kiran Bhagat, doctor, scientist and passionate exponent of holistic medicine and friend asked about the Art (and Science) of Medicine and why a deeper understanding of health issues is needed. We shouldn’t just be treating the symptoms, but the causes of ill-health.

THE WORKSHOPS

Endless thanks go to the remarkable people and organisations that ran the workshops on Day 2 of the Conference.

James Fern and Toyin Omotoye from BDO talked about the art of creating a healthy attitude towards money. Donald Molosi led participants through some truly remarkable activities, exploring the link between theatre and customer service. Renee and Tumelo Yezo showed how it’s possible to create remarkable, uplifting, stimulating spaces that bring out the best in an organisation and its people. Mariam Sethi of IT-IQ and her team also explored how technology is enabling people to become so much more creative in the ways they work. Simba Mariri took delegates through a challenging, eyes-widening, thought-provoking exploration of The Art of Thinking. Nkata Seleka of Sleek Foods, Lebogang Mmono from Just Ginger, James Briscoe from The Daily Grind and Othatha and Bokang Mokgwathi from TsinaTota Honey showed that creating a proudly local brand is not only possible, it’s happened so many times. Finally, Mophato Dance Theatre, well, more about them below.

THE SPONSORS

We could have held a conference without the sponsors but it wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting, entertaining and successful. Vast thanks must go to those at Stanbic, Orange, Hollard, Multichoice and Cell City. Thanks must also go to Milky Lane for what they do best. Ice cream for everyone!

THE CREW

The Consumer Watchdog team led by Thato Mbikiwa were, as always, remarkable. We couldn’t have done it without you. JP Glanville and the team from Showgroup were, yet again, amazing, giving us light, sound, video, music and a stage from which to perform.

Bonni Dintwa is extraordinary. You can’t get a better MC than Bonni, perhaps because he’s even more insane than we are? He gets us, how we like to be different, how we like to challenge, disrupt and sometimes even amuse. He’s a star.

Finally, the glue that holds our conferences together, has always been the Mophato Dance Theatre. These extraordinary people are a national treasure. Their energy, passion, drive, imagination, creativity and flair are unbeatable. They are truly amazing.


The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why did they take my money?

I have run accounts with my bank for a long time and was credited with various debit and credit cards. All has been smooth for all the years until I failed for the first time to pay my loan monthly instalment and, within a week, they transferred all the balances into my loan account without prior communication. Let it be known that I had been in communication with the bank once I realised the difficulties ahead. I was made to write a letter which was never responded to. Please assist.


I’m sorry to say that there’s probably nothing that can be done to help you with this.

The reason I’m pessimistic is that this is how banking works. If you have various accounts with a bank and one of them falls into arrears or becomes overdrawn without approval, the bank is within its rights to move money between your accounts to remedy that situation. So if you fall behind with your loan or your current account goes overdrawn by P500 and the bank sees that you have P10,000 in your savings account, they can move the P500 from the savings to the current account without consulting you first.

The reason they can do this is simple. It’s because you agreed they could. You might not remember it or perhaps you didn’t notice but when you signed the loan agreement there was a clause saying that they could do this. This is common practice with bank loans. Obviously if the bank had some sense of customer service they would have contacted you first and asked what was going wrong and maybe offered you some help but they weren’t actually obliged to do that. In your case you say you alerted the bank to the problems you were facing but clearly that message ever got through to the right people. Or perhaps it did and they decided they didn’t care.

We can contact the bank and see if they can contact you and explore ways to help you but remember that bank aren’t charities. They want your money. Kindness is not on their list of priorities.

Why won’t they repair my TV?

I am launching a complaint about a television I bought not so long ago and upon returning the television I did not find help although I am entitled to the guarantee and warranty services that we had agreed.

I lay-byed the television just two months ago and as we agreed to the three months lay-bye policy I paid my TV in time until I finished it on the 23rd August when I then took it home for use. A week after the purchase my TV slightly hit a wall when it went dark. Two days later I went back to the store to inform them about the damaged product, they did not help me and so I decided to look for help were I could find it better, Consumer Watchdog.

I bought this television very expensively, P1490 and it's really sad and heart breaking to lose such much money on a product I never really used and enjoyed.

I really and kindly hope my request complaint will be met. Thank you.


I’m very sorry but I don’t have any good news for you. The warranty that comes with something like a TV guarantees you a solution if there’s either a manufacturing problem with the device or a subsequent fault during the warranty period. The warranty does NOT help you if the TV is damaged accidentally or carelessly after it’s delivered and that seems to be what happened here?

Think of it this way. Did either the manufacturer or the store break the TV? Did either of them do anything that led to the damage the TV experienced? Was it, in any way, their fault that the damage happened? I think not.

I know it’s too late for you in this situation but the best advice I can give you is to get a household insurance policy. Yes, this costs a little money but it would have paid for the repair of replacement of your TV when this accident occurred. It would also have covered anything else that might have been damaged or lost. Insurance might seem expensive but only until the first time you submit a claim. That’s when you realise that not having insurance can be a very expensive oversight.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Should they refund me?

I need advice on this issue, my four year old child goes to a preschool and he has been going there for the past three years. I have always paid school fees on time and in most cases prepaid the entire term.

I have prepaid this term's school fees, this is the term beginning August 2018 and ends October 2018. My wife has been recently transferred and we told the school that we will be moving the child to a different school.

The head teachers has categorically refused to refund us the prepaid portion of the school fees. He refused to give reasons why as well. Please advise on the best cause of action.


Unfortunately, I don’t think I can give you any good news. Normal practice with private schools is that you’re required to give notice of your intention to cancel your child’s place at the school. Normally, it’s meant to be full term’s notice and I don’t think that’s unreasonable. Your child took a place that could have been offered to someone else’s child and if they refund you the fees you paid in advance, the school is going to lose out. Is that really fair on them? You’ll probably find something in the contract you signed with the school that describes this in detail. Any sensible school would certainly include such a condition to protect their interests.

This is very similar to the notice periods you’ll find in many other contracts, whether it’s a tenancy agreement, a contract of employment or a mortgage or bank loan. You can’t just terminate the contract without some sort of notice period or penalty. That’s why it’s so important to read any agreement thoroughly before signing it so you know in advance about conditions like this.

All I can advise you to do is to see if the headteacher of the school is prepared to be flexible, but I must warn you, don’t be optimistic.

Where’s my refund?

I bought a bed on the 16th July from a furniture store for P3,000 cash and they promised to deliver the bed immediately. A week passed and the bed was not delivered, despite the daily promises that the store made that they will deliver the bed every day when I called to make follow up. On July 23rd I asked for a refund because I had not received this bed which I had fully paid for. They asked for my ID and proof of banking details to facilitate the refund, which I submitted and they promised to make payment in a week’s time because a refund is a long administrative process on their side. After week and a half I made follow up about the payment, and I was told there were missing supporting documents that I had to submit.

I was very angry because I don’t understand why they had to wait for my call to tell me there were missing documents but I submitted the ID on the 8th August, 2 days after they had requested them. They then promised payment will be made but to this day I have not received my payment and they are taking me from pillar to post and there has been no feedback whatsoever on their side, I have to call them every day at my expenses and they are just not helpful. What can I do?


I think that the first thing you should do is to stop being so patient. It’s now time to become very, very impatient. You bought your bed almost two months ago, you asked for a refund shortly after that and there is absolutely no reason why it should take this long to be processed.

I think you should write the store a letter reminding them that you cancelled the purchase and exercised your right under Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations to demand a refund, explaining that they’ve completely failed to honour their side of the contract you both agreed. Make it clear to them that you no longer want the product. Tell them that if they fail to give you a full refund within a certain period, perhaps seven days, if you’re feeling generous, two if you’re impatient that you’ll take legal action against them.

Meanwhile we’ll contact the store’s head office and see if the Managing Director can’t accelerate things a little. You’ve been patient enough.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is Karatbars real?

I saw you removed an advertisement for Karatbars from your Facebook group. Is this because it’s a scam? Please tell me more because people are telling me about it saying I can make money from gold.


Let’s start with some history. We first heard of Karatbars in 2014 when people approached us asking about the scheme. We contacted some of the local organisers and they told us that the scheme had been endorsed by BURS, the Department of Mines, the German Embassy and even by Consumer Watchdog.


In fact, none of these things were true.



They were all lies.

The people recruiting people into Karatbars promised riches from investing in gold even though back then the price of gold had been steadily dropping for a long time. Also, the amount of gold Karatbars was offering was tiny and the price they were charging for these tiny amounts was about 60% higher than the real gold price at the time.


In fact, Karatbars was nothing more than a pyramid scheme exploiting public ignorance of the international gold market and the promise of making lots of money from recruiting other people. The authorities in Canada also started to take action against them and fairly quickly Karatbars seemed to disappear. I knew a few people lost some money by joining the scheme but it wasn’t as bad as some other pyramid schemes we’ve seen.

But now they’re back. They advertisement you saw in the Consumer Watchdog Facebook group announced that Karatbars was back and hosting the “Karatbars World Tour” in Joburg this week. So, has anything changed? Are they still selling over-priced gold in tiny quantities?


No, they’ve moved on. Now like all the other sophisticated scammers, they’re marketing a cryptocurrency they call the Karatgold Coin.


They say that this is “a blockchain-based cryptocurrency” that is “specially designed to be used as a generally accepted electronic payment means for all who consider gold as a traditional, true, secure and value-stable medium”. In other words they want us to use it as money. But that’s going to be a challenge when the currency they talk about doesn’t actually exist. Yet again, Karatbars is based on lies and experience shows that liars can’t be trusted.

If they approach you, please don’t get seduced by their sales pitch about gold and cryptocurrencies. It’s just more lies from a scheme with a history of lying.

Is the courier company real?

Hello, I want to know if this courier company from Nigeria exists, Fastway Courier Services. Someone said she sent me some parcels through it and I have to pay 2000 pula as the delivery fee as she didn't pay for it because she paid with a cheque and they don't accept cheques. They say I have to deposit the money on their FNB account. Please help me.


No matter what these people say, regardless of how convincing or demanding they might be, please do NOT send them any money. This is undoubtedly a scam.

Even though there seems to be some legitimate companies around the world calling themselves “Fastway Courier Services” this is certainly not one of them. Real courier companies don’t demand amounts like this. If there are duties or taxes to pay then the local tax authority will know about it.

Unfortunately, we hear all the time from people who, like you, met someone on Facebook who eventually offers to send a parcel of goods, almost always promising that they include valuable items such as laptops, cellphones, jewellery and often cash as well. However, the truth is that the parcel doesn’t exist, the courier company that claims it needs to be paid by the recipient and even the friend on Facebook are all fake. None of them is real.

In our experience the victim of these “romantic scams” is almost always a woman being scammed by a man but your case is one of the rare ones where the scammer is using a female profile to “seduce” a male victim. The Facebook profile used by this scammer is clearly targeted at men, showing pictures of a beautiful, curvaceous woman. What’s more, almost all of the Facebook friends of this profile are other men. Clearly they’re attracting a large pool of potential victims.

It just shows how scammers adapt and do their best to exploit anyone’s weakness. Nobody is safe.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay?

I would like some help or advice from you. My story goes like this: I once helped a foreign friend to buy furniture from a furniture store on credit. After that a sales consultant personally called me to help them again because they are their customers and they trust them they will pay and I did that. Unfortunately the gentleman fell sick and died in South Africa and I was not able to get hold of the wife and other family members. I went back to them and told them what has happened and I wanted to talk to the sales consultant on what to do because she was the one who talked to me and they said I can’t talk to her as she has been transferred somewhere. I kept on going to them and ask what to do and they kept on saying I must look for the deceased wife who has been signing all the paperwork at the shop of payments and all the staff.

Now I have been taken to debt collectors because the furniture is in my name. What should I do because I wanted the sales consultant to be involved but they are not telling me where she is. Does this mean I will have to pay even though they know the whole story and I don't have those things?

What should I do Sir?

This is going to be very difficult. You don’t need to be a qualified attorney to know that once an agreement is put in writing that’s all that matters. There’s even a name for it, the “parol rule”, which says that “when a transaction has been reduced into writing, the writing is regarded as the exclusive memorial of the transaction and no evidence may be given to contradict, alter, add or vary its terms”.

The problem you face is that the only written agreement is the one that says that YOU are the customer and that YOU are the owner of the furniture. YOU are the one that owes the company the money.

Of course, if there was a written agreement between you and the deceased South African friend, then you might have a way to get the money from his estate. Did you have such an agreement?

Whether you had such an agreement or not, you need to do your best to find the South African family and see if they can’t help you out. I’d be happy to try but if not you might need either to invest in tracing him or just accept that you’re the one who a dead man’s bills.

Is he real?

Hello Mr Richard. I need your help. I've been communicating with someone on Facebook claiming to be the Nigerian musician Davido. He asked me a few questions saying it was a competition. He just forwarded this. Is it genuine? “You've just won yourself a brand new apple Laptop iPhones8+ MacBook and a plasma TV as promised. Please to claim your prize you will whatsapp the FASTWAY COURIER NIG ENTERPRISES DELIVERY SERVICES on this digits: +2347080044292 also on whatsapp +2347080044292, and give him your parcel number [NIG6283ZAM] He's a disciplined and principled man just tell him you won a package from me and drop your parcel number.,NOTE they will charge you $100usd for transportation of your gifts to your various destination, Congratulations once again”

Do you think this is real?

No, I don’t think that this is real, I am 100% certain that this is a scam.

Firstly, why would a celebrity contact people like you and me about a competition? And why would they be doing this using Facebook? Remember that it is one of the easiest things to create a Facebook profile, even to create a profile pretending to be that of a celebrity. It takes just a few seconds to copy pictures and updates from a genuine celebrity and a few more to create some posts to make the profile look convincing.

I took a look at the Facebook profile account that sent you this message and it’s clearly fake. Why, for instance, would a famous Nigerian singer be so interested in Botswana? In fact, almost all the groups he’s joined or pages he’s liked are connected with Botswana and none seem related to Nigeria. This is a profile deliberately created to scam us in Botswana.

Then there are the usual clues. The number given is a cellphone number and I think it’s safe to assume that the courier company is fake as well. This is just about the $100 that the fake celebrity is demanding. It’s nothing but a scam.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Radio show notes - week beginning 13th August 2018

Source: Wikipedia
1. Scam stories

A story was published entitled “Florida Woman Loses $1 Million In Online Dating Scam”. It told of someone who fell for a "romance scam" is likely to lose her home and end up $350,000 in debt. This is obviously a major example of these romantic scams but we're not immune in Botswana. We probably hear of them once or twice every week. Luckily we're normally intimate to prevent people giving away their money but not always. These scams usually originate on dating web sites or Facebook and end up with a fictitious packages of gifts being "held up" at a customs point in a foreign country. For victims in Botswana the claim is usually that the package is in Cape Town. Spread the word, people you meet on Facebook, no matter how charming they might seem, don't come bearing gifts. They come bearing theft.

2. They broke my phone
“I was in a supermarket and I picked a few items and I went to the till point to pay then I put my phone on top of the counter because I wanted to get money from my pocket. Then after she scanned 2kg washing powder she put it the counter and it pushed my phone and it fell and the screen got broken. I told the cashier she broke my phone and she said sorry and went on to say you were not suppose to put your phone on top of the counter. I said where is it written? She said its not written anywhere. That’s when I took the matter to the manager. So yesterday the manager called me and told me the fault is fine and they can’t fix my phone just like that. What can I do?"
So whose fault is it? The store? The customer? Actually probably a mixture. If you put a valuable phone somewhere where it's likely to be damaged you need to be prepared to take some personal responsibility.

3. Must I pay again?
"I have been dealing with a certain garage and I feel they are ripping me off. My car was spilling fuel and I took it to them they said it was a pipe that was loose. They repaired the pipe and charged me P950. A week later it did the same and I took it back to them and they said the pipes were blocked and they wanted to charge P300 which I contested and they let me go. Now it has done the same after a week of so. They now say the pipes need to be replaced. I bought the pipes yesterday and they now want to charge me P650 for replacing the pipes I bought for P60. My issue now is they are charging me for the job they have charged me for again. They could have noticed that the pipes were old the first time I took the car to them. Please advise?
Section 15 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations says that services must be rendered “with reasonable care and skill”. Was this truly on this occasion?

Section 15 (1) (b) says that the supplier fails "to meet minimum standards of performance" if they quote “scientific or technical data in support of a claim unless the data can be readily substantiated”. Was this truly on this occasion?

However, perhaps the mechanic was just doing his best? Diagnosis of problems in complicated systems such as cars, computers, cellphones can be very difficult.

Maybe there's room for a compromise here over price? Or go elsewhere.

4. Must they help me?
“I am tendering for suppling a [name of device removed]. The challenge is the company that supplies this equipment is not willing to help me with the quote because they are also tendering. Is this company allowed to deny me the services?”
Can you really demand that a supplier supply you with something if they don't want to? Do we have a right to demand to buy things? In a similar manner a supplier, a store, a restaurant can, in certain situations, decline to service us.
  • Examples of reasons that a supplier CAN refuse to serve us: Poor past or current misbehaviour, drunkenness, breach of a dress code, debt, previous financial behaviour, previous bounced cheques
  • Examples of reasons that a supplier can NOT refuse to serve us: gender (with very few exceptions such as bathrooms and changing rooms), race, religion, political belief
5. How to complain – Consumer Watchdog Official Complaints Procedure

The old Official 3-Step Consumer Watchdog Complaints Procedure was as follows:

1. Complain to the person who offended you.
2. Complain to the most senior person in the building. Their title will be something like "Store Manager", "Branch Manager" or "Restaurant Manager".
3. Complain to the most senior person in the entire organisation. Their title will be something like Managing Director or Chief Executive Officer, President or Pope.

This has now been replaced by the new Official 1-Step Consumer Watchdog Complaints Procedure which goes like this:

1. Complain however, wherever and whenever you please. That does include Facebook.

In 2018 consumers are in charge. There is nothing suppliers can do about it.

6. Pyramids schemes vs MLMs

Following a discussion in our Facebook group on the differences between pyramid schemes and Multi-Level Marketing schemes (following which a small number of people who insisted on trying to market both were banned people from the group), it's important to explain the essential difference.

Section 9 of the 2018 Consumer Protection Act says that “A person shall not directly or indirectly promote, or knowingly join, enter or participate, or cause any other person to promote, join, enter or participate in…
(a) A pyramid scheme
(b) A multiplication scheme
(c) A chain letter scheme”

These are each defined as follows:
  • Pyramid scheme – “where participants in the scheme receive compensation derived primarily from their respective recruitment of other persons as participants”
  • Multiplication scheme: – “offers, promises or guarantees … an effective interest rate that is above the market rate”
  • Chain letter scheme – “each successive newly recruited participant is required to make some form of payment which would be distributed to some of the previously existing participants”
So it's quite simple, according to Botswana law. If the scheme suggests or promises or even deliver a mechanism where the money offered or earned is "primarily" from the recruitment of other people, then it's a pyramid scheme. What could be simpler?

Saturday, 18 August 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay again?

I have been dealing with a certain garage and I feel they are ripping me off. My car was spilling fuel and I took it to them they said it was a pipe that was loose. They repaired the pipe and charged me P950, P650 being for towing and P200 for tightening the pipe. A week later it did the same and I took it back to them and they said the pipes were blocked and they wanted to charge P300 which I contested and they let me go. Now it has done the same after a week of so. They now say the pipes need to be replaced. I bought the pipes yesterday and they now want to charge me P650 for replacing the pipes I bought for P60. My issue now is they are charging me for the job they have charged me for again. They could have noticed that the pipes were old the first time I took the car to them. Please advise?

This might be a difficult one.

Section 15 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations requires that a supplier of a service must deliver those services “with reasonable care and skill”. The next section also states that the supplier has broken the rules if he or she “quotes scientific or technical data in support of a claim unless the data can be readily substantiated”. I get the impression that your mechanic might have failed to satisfy both of these requirements. He wasn’t able to fix the problem and is now making claims that he might not be able to justify.

However, the trouble is that he can claim, and this might even be true, that he was doing his best when he repaired the pipe and that he genuinely believed, based on his skills and experience, that it would fix the problem. I’m no expert on cars but I know that complicated technical matters can be very difficult to diagnose and fix. That goes for vehicles but also for computers, household appliances and even medical issues. The initial diagnosis isn’t always the final one.

I suggest that you should compromise. Why not suggest that, given that his initial suggestion didn’t work, he needs to be a bit more flexible rather than just run up a huge bill for you? If he fails to cooperate, then maybe we can escalate things a little.

They broke my phone!

I was in a supermarket and I picked a few items and I went to the till point to pay then I put my phone on top of the counter because I wanted to get money from my pocket. Then after she scanned 2kg washing powder she put it the counter and it pushed my phone and it fell and the screen got broken. I told the cashier she broke my phone and she said sorry and went on to say you were not suppose to put your phone on top of the counter. I said where is it written? She said its not written anywhere! I took seconds looking at the phone and the same cashier who broke my phone told me to move because I’m delaying people behind me who wants to pay. I told her how can you say that to me? You destroyed my phone what should I do she said she doesn’t know. Thats when I took the matter to the manager. So yesterday the manager called me and told me the fault is fine and they can’t fix my phone just like that. What can I do?

I suspect there’s not much you can do. I spoke to the management of the supermarket chain and their position was simple. They spoke to their staff and told me that because you were the one who placed your phone on the counter, a space reserved for shopping, that you were to blame for the damage to the phone. Their argument is that a consumer would have known the risk of putting a phone amongst shopping that was being scanned.

Unfortunately, while this might not seem very sympathetic by the store, I suspect it’s reasonable. The counter is a place for shopping to be moved around, not somewhere you place something as important and valuable as a cellphone. Sorry!

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Radio show notes - week beginning 6th August 2018

Source: Wikipedia
1. Is Bitcoin a pyramid scheme 

No, but it attracts them.

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, discussed many times before.

The problem is that it's surrounded by a vast number of scams, pyramid schemes, Ponzi schemes and fake cryptocurrencies such as Pipcoin, Billcoin, OneCoin, DasCoin.

If you want to experiment with these new technologies then do so. They're probably the future of money but they are currently very high risk. As with any speculations, you should only spend what you can afford to lose.

2. Is BPC stealing from us?

People are complaining about electricity costs, suggesting that the are much more expensive then ever before. Some ever suggest that Botswana Power Corporation are "stealing" our money somehow. Can this be true? Or are we using much more electricity than normal?

Firstly, BPC prices went up significantly in April.

Secondly, it's winter. It takes more energy to heat things and then to maintain a fixed temperature and more still to maintain those temperatures when the surroundings are colder. It's a matter of physics.

Thirdly, BPC have a banded pricing system. The first 200 kWh are priced at one level (currently P0.6993), then, once that quantity has been consumed, the price goes up to a high level (currently P0.9711). Not only does the cost increase when you consume more electricity, the price per unit does as well.

Fourth, and this is just conjecture, I suspect that our perceptions of electricity consumption have changed since prepaid meters were introduced.

Add all these together and I think it's easy to understand what it seems that prices have gone up so much. But no evidence that there's a sinister conspiracy to "steal our money".

3. Should stores have toilets?
“I want to understand - aren't customers supposed to be assisted with toilets in shops? I was once denied use toilet in one of the reputable shops. Today I got to one of the big shops, I was told it was for staff only. After begging for use of toilet through the manager I was let use it. I got to yet another store at I asked for toilet, I was told I should be searched before I could be allowed to use the bathroom and after telling them I would rather leave than submit to such demeaning treatment I was allowed use of toilet. My issue is are customers not supposed to have access to such important facilities especially at malls or shopping complexes, even if they can be pay toilets?”
Stores probably not, mainly for security reasons. Shopping centers? Yes? And yes, they should be free because we are already paying for them in the prices we pay the stores who then pay their rent to the shopping center.

4. Inter African Investment and Loan Company



Does it really need explaining?

5. Unknown callers
“Someone called me today from South Africa that they have been engaged to do a back ground check on my company. I requested them to send me an email including their details and also those of their principal who has sent them so I can also do a background check on them. They have not responded up to now. Please advise what should I do, tried to call the number but it goes unanswered but charges.”
How do you know the person calling is real? Adopt the approach this consumer used. Demand their ID first. Otherwise who knows who's really calling.

6. Can I return things?

A consumer bought a sewing machine for P13,500 in 2016.
“I returned back to them a week after buying, upon returning it,the manager refused to take it back saying once you have bought something from them you can't return it which is not written on the receipt.”
She went to the Consumer Protection Unit, who encouraged both parties to engage in dialogue. The store agreed to take it back and sell it on her behalf. Eventually managed to sell for P9,600 but
“they never consulted with me about the price they are planning to sell it for.”
Furthermore, the store now says they're taking a 20% charge, leaving her with a balance or around P7,000.

Firstly, did she even have the right to change her mind? No, unless the item she bought was not “of merchantable quality” of if the store deceived the consumer somehow. There's no right to change your mind.

Meanwhile, there is good news. During the dialogue the store agreed, in writing that they would only sell the item if she agreed to the selling price and that they wouldn't deduct anything from that amount.

Simple.

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is Bitcoin a pyramid scheme?

Hello Richard is bitcoin a pyramid scheme?

I need to begin by explaining what Bitcoin is. Bitcoin is a currency, but not like any currency we've seen before. It's a “cryptocurrency”, a digital currency. There are no coins or notes with Bitcoin, nothing you can put in your wallet or purse. Bitcoins exist purely in cyberspace and that’s one of the things that confuses people. What’s also confusing is the terminology used when people talk about Bitcoin. They talk about things like the "blockchain", the "distributed ledger" and "Bitcoin mining", all of which are hard to understand and likely to perplex people. There's also the simple confusion that your money is "out there" somewhere and not in your pocket.

Data source: Coindesk
Like all currencies Bitcoin’s value can go up but it can also go down. For instance, if you’d bought Bitcoins in late December last year you would have lost almost two-thirds of your “investment” by the time I wrote this. There’s no reason to think that it’s price will increase again.

Then there are security concerns. The technology underpinning Bitcoin is highly secure but anyone who says that a particular security system is fool proof doesn’t know their history. All security technologies will eventually be broken and if a flaw is ever discovered in Bitcoin's security mechanisms it would be instantly valueless.

The fact that it's completely unregulated is another concern. If a conventional currency like the Pula, dollar or Euro showed signs of failing, central banks can do things to support it but with Bitcoin, there's nobody to help you. The Bank of Botswana has already warned people about the dangers of speculating in Bitcoin. Another issue is that when you spend Bitcoins there are no payment protection mechanisms available to you. There are no rights to refunds. no chargeback mechanisms and Bitcoins are completely untraceable and that’s why they’re so popular with criminals and terrorists.

Bitcoin is fascinating and something like it is probably the future of money but you shouldn’t see it as an investment. If you have some money you can afford to lose then go ahead, otherwise you should be much more careful.

And then there’s the final thing. While Bitcoin is itself legitimate (but very high risk) it’s surrounded by a huge number of scams, pyramid schemes and Ponzi schemes, all of which are exploiting the mixture of excitement and ignorance we all have about the subject. Just be very careful!

Where’s the tombstone?

We as a family paid P9,500 to a company in Mogoditshane for them to make us a tombstone for our grandfather to be unveiled in late July. We agreed with them and they made a promise it will all be set up by the agreed date. When we called up they promised it will be set up by Tuesday 24th July, it happened it was not so. We went to their offices and we cannot get any assistance. The owner of the company has switched off his cellphones and the officer in charge cannot assist as she says everything is done by the owner of the company.

We need help as we have incurred costs for the unveiling and we did not get our tombstone and we are so anxious and restless. What can we do?

What is it with some companies? We hear so often about companies that let people down during some of life’s most important occasions, particularly weddings and funerals. Don’t they understand that these are occasions that can’t be repeated? Don’t they know how important they are? Don’t they realise the depth of the emotions involved?

Send me the contact details for this awful company and we’ll get in touch with them and try to explain to them how horrible their behaviour has been. We’ll also explain that I removed their name from your email to give them the chance to rectify their appalling behaviour. They need to know that this might not remain the case.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Skylane Couriers - another scam

A consumer contacted us regarding a shipment they were expecting from the USA, having bought what they believed were iPhones and Apple laptops from Best Buy (a legitimate company).

However this was nothing to do with Best Buy. This was nothing more than a scam.

The clues emerged when they received an email from the shipping company, calling itself Skylane Couriers, saying that their shipment had been stopped by the authorities in Guinea "for collection of Custom Fees, Tax Charges and Importation Licenses Fee".

This is the nature of these shipping scams. They choose a country far from the supposed shipper and far from the recipient and pretend that customs have seized the package and won't release it until a payment has been made. This ignores the fact that with any shipment, duties, taxes and fees can only be charged in the country it came from and the destination. Countries in the middle do nothing unless they have reason to stop the goods if they suspect there's something criminal happening.

The email from the fake courier company said that the customs people in Guinea had told them:
"A tax levied on imports (and, sometimes, on exports) by the customs authorities of a country to raise state revenue. Customs duty is based generally on the value of goods or upon the weight and dimensions. You are been Charged for Custom Duty, Tax & Import duty.

Import License Fee*********$425 USD
Custom duty****************$250 USD
Tax Charges****************$199 USD

You have privilege of 5 days to pay up the required fees by the  Guinea Custom facility. Failure to pay up the required fees within 5 days, demur-rage charges of $55 will counts everyday that the goods stay's at Custom warehouse in Conakry - Guinea .

It is our responsibility and authority to propose and enforce laws and regulations to ensure safe, secure, efficient and clean delivery."
Payment of course was not requested by bank transfer or debit or credit card. They wanted the money sent by Western Union.

The clues...

Western Union. Real companies don’t expect payment through WU, they would want debit or credit payments or electronic transfers.

Duties. Duties on shipments are only payable at the beginning or end of a shipment, not halfway along the route. Nothing is being “imported” into Guinea so no such payments are required.

Language. The language is not what I would expect from a company if it was genuine.

The web site. The clever part (and I’ve seen this several times before) is that they’ve constructed a well-prepared web site where you can check the shopping number they give. The shipping number they offer works and appears to show a route that is bizarre. The package apparently went from Minnesota in the USA to Illinois, then to Cuba, Barbados, Cape Verde and finally Conakry in Guinea. That’s a very interesting route. Cuba? Really?

The web site (again). Interestingly, the text on the web site is exactly the same as several other shipping companies I could find. I assume they are all fakes as well because I can find warnings about scams associated with some of those other sites. Either that or one is the genuine original and the other are all copies. The single physical address they give is in the UK and is in fact owned by another, genuine company.

More on the web site. On their web site they say that the company was “formed in the year 2004” and they suggest is based in the UK or Russia but their domain was only registered in March this year to an address in Nigeria.

Unfortunately it was too late to save this victim who had already sent money to the scammers.

Be warned!

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Radio show notes - week beginning 30th July 2018

Source: Wikipedia
1. Magellan International – CGI Global
“I received an invitation from someone in Tanzania to attend a presentation in Gaborone and training on something called Magellan International run by a company called CGi Limited. Do you think this is genuine?”
Do I think it's genuine? Yes, it's a genuine scam.

The CGI Global web site says that their business involves  “Mobile Technology”, “Online Shopping” and “Cryptocurrency Mining”. They even claim to have their own cryptocurrency that they call “Betchip”. In a facebook post they claim that this coin can be purchased for “$1 per coin* and that there will be “a huge profitable opportunity when the coin will go as high as $10,000 or more” and that “all you need to make the profit out of Betchips is to invest now while stock last.”

One curious is that while CGI Global's domain was registered in USA they say that their services are “not available in … United States of America”.

It's a simple rule. Any scheme that offers return as massive as these, a 10,000 fold increase is going to be a Ponzi scheme.

2. A success story

A consumer had a credit card with Bank A. He paid off the credit card debt and moved to Bank B where he applied for a loan. However, Bank B told him that Bank A had "blacklisted" him at CRB because of an outstanding credit card debt.
“I went to the bank livid and I was told they don’t know what really happened and they wrote a letter for me to take to my new bank to assure them that they erroneously listed me at CRB. Théy promised to solve my issue first thing tomorrow morning. I couldn’t sleep last night wondering what the implication of being listed at CRB means for my credit rating because of someone else’s carelessness in their job. I want to know the implications even if they promised to remove me on Monday morning?”
Technically credit reference bureaus don't "blacklist" people. In fact, they record almost everything about our financial lives, both the good things and the bad things. That then enables other companies to judge carefully whether to lend you money, based on your recent financial history.

We contacted Bank A and the matter has now been resolved.

3. How to complain – The Official Consumer Watchdog Complaints Procedure

Official complaints procedures are gone. In the past we offered an alternative procedure that we suggested consumers adopt instead of any company's complaints procedure.

The old, three-step procedure was:
  1. Complain to the person who offended you.
  2. Complain to the most senior person in the building.
  3. Complain to the most senior person in the company.
But even that is now outdated. The new procedure is even simpler.
  1. Complain whenever, wherever and however you please.
It's 2018 and consumers are in control.

4. Is Jamalife legit or its just another Ponzi scheme? (Yes, again)

They describe themselves as:
“an online cum offline network marketing organization and was born out of the need to build up people financially all across the globe to the point of experiencing high quality life in all areas of living”.
Sorry? What?

They claim to have products. “Human Capital Development”, “Food Security”, “Online mail”, “Flight and hotel booking”, “Assets and Property acquisition” and “Financial empowerment”.

Sorry? What?

They business has multiple levels called Builder, Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald, Diamond, Crown diamond, Ambassador and Crown Ambassador. Each of these contains sub-levels. They suggest that someone reaching Crown Ambassador will receive "R3,900,000 and a Range Rover worth R2,210,000". However, the maths are simple. To reach this level you and the people beneath you will need to recruit a total of 16,777,214 people.


Hidden away in their web site is this:
"any rewards or earnings that are offered from Jamalife Helpers Global through the Business Plan is the result of members referring or signing up other willing members".
Their members are also quite open about how it works.


So there you have it. A pyramid scheme.

5. Crystal Cell – is it legit?

Ads on Facebook ask:
“do u have damaged organs, whether it's the eyes, brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, whatever in the body [...] If there's something wrong in our body it traces back to the cells, that's why targeting cells is the best problem solution because it helps with health in general and very specifically at the same time, which makes Crystal cell unique.”
They claim that their products are based on stem cells, saying that the "potential uses of stem cells" include stroke, traumatic brain injury, learning defects, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, wound healing, baldness, blindness, deafness, myocardial infarction, diabetes, cancers, arthritis…”


But Crystal Cell apparently contains plant stem cells, not human stem cells. So how can they have any effect at all?

This is obviously nonsense, and dangerous nonsense. There's a real risk that someone suffering from one of the conditions mentioned will swallow (literally) this ridiculous product instead of taking medical advice. Crystal Cell will then have blood on their hands.

It's also illegal.

6. Medical Aid

NBFIRA announced recently that both Itekanele and Etudiant Medical Aids have been temporarily closed. For both, they say that:
“the effect of the closure is that Itekanele shall not be permitted to issue new medical aid covers and to advertise its products. Existing members are advised that the temporary closure will not affect their medical aid policies and consequent rights and responsibilities.”
Roughly translated, this means "Don't panic". Just think carefully about who you can trust with your health.

Friday, 3 August 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why have they blacklisted me?

I need your help with my old bank. I had a credit card with them that I owed P2,080 that I had paid fully in November 2017. I was shocked yesterday when I went to my new bank to get a loan to be told I have been listed at CRB by the old bank on 24 January 2018. I went to the bank livid and I was told they don’t know what really happened and they wrote a letter for me to take to my new bank to assure them that they erroneously listed me at CRB. Théy promised to solve my issue first thing tomorrow morning. I couldn’t sleep last night wondering what the implication of being listed at CRB means for my credit rating because of someone else’s carelessness in their job. I want to know the implications even if they promised to remove me on Monday morning?


Let’s start by explaining how credit reference bureaus operate. They don’t “blacklist” people, unlike what most people will say. In fact, they record everything, both good and bad. They record when we get a loan or buy something on hire purchase, they record when we repay these commitments properly and also when we fail to do so. The recent financial history they hold on us is then used by lenders to help them decide whether to lend more money to us. There’s nothing wrong with this because it helps them to take the right decisions. It helps them to lend money to the people most likely to repay it and to avoid lending to people with a recent history of not meeting their obligations.

However, mistakes are obviously sometimes made. From what you say, it seems like your old bank clearly made a serious mistake when they recorded that you still owed them money. If it’s true it’s the responsibility of the bank to fix this problem by correcting your record so that this alleged debt completely disappears and that their mistake doesn’t disadvantage you in any way.

We’ll also get in touch with them to encourage them to move more quickly!

Should I attend the presentation?

I received an invitation from someone in Tanzania to attend a presentation in Gaborone and training on something called Magellan International run by a company called CGi Limited. Do you think this is genuine?


I think it’s a genuine scam.

CGI Limited now call themselves CGI Global and on their web site they suggest that they have interests in “Mobile Technology”, “Online Shopping” and, guess what, “Cryptocurrency Mining”. They even claim to have their own cryptocurrency that they call Betchip. They say that this is “a new digital coin to the market” and that it “can be used within the CGi economy in selected stores and services online.” They go on to suggest that recruits can buy them at “$1 per coin* and that there will be “a huge profitable opportunity when the coin will go as high as $10,000 or more” and that “all you need to make the profit out of Betchips is to invest now while stock last.”

However, there’s no evidence that any of this is actually true. There’s no evidence that this “Betchip” currency really exists and it’s certainly bizarre to think that a currency that doesn’t even exist can increase in value by up to 10,000 times. Yet again, this is a scam is exploiting public ignorance about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Even though their web site is registered in the USA earlier this year, it’s strange that their web site says that their services are “not available in certain countries and territories including United States of America”. Also, almost all of the advertising seems to be focussed on Africa. This obviously conflicts with a post on their Facebook page which suggests that 52% of their visitors are from the USA and that “These are now seeing what we don't see!!!” Many things don’t add up.

The facts are quite simple. Any scheme that claims it can convert a $1 investment into $10,000 is a scam, almost certainly a Ponzi scheme. Any scheme that claims you can make fortunes from “investing” in a cryptocurrency is certainly a deception. Please don’t waste your time, effort and money on what is clearly a scam.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Radio show notes - week beginning 23rd July 2018

Source: Wikipedia
1. WC Connect – pyramid scheme alert

WC Connect describe themselves as:
"an empowerment based membership program".
and that their vision:
"is to empower our members and through them we empower people around them by just introducing them to WC CONNECT".
So are there any products? They make it clear that there is "NO BUYING" and "NO SELLING". They also claim that it's "easy for its members to own houses, cars, laptops, mobile phones and many more without paying a coin. Its all free from WC CONNECT.You stand a chance to own a Brand new bungalow worth $140,000”.


In WhatsApp conversations with some of their active recruiters I asked “Do we make money from recruiting people or from selling products?” One responded “Yes you make money from recruiting people.” and another said “Yes it’s all about recruitment dear nothing else.”

So it's a pyramid scheme.

2. PFI Digital and Vortex Profits – scam alert

Many people will remember Vortex Profits, a Ponzi scheme that described itself as:
“a remarkable investment platform with an outstanding track record of 2 years for delivering best of class investment solutions and endless income-generating opportunity”.
They promised returns of between 2.5% and 4% every day, claiming there was some connection with investments in Bitcoin, gold or oil. In fact, Vortex Profits was nothing but a scam and many people in Botswana lost lots of money.

Now something new happens

An entity calling itself PFI Digital (UK) posts alerts on Facebook asking:
“Have you lost money with Vortex Profits? Final call for submissions. ... complete your complaint form and submit it to PFI Digital (UK) before we submit the letters of complaint to the UK and European authorities. We expect a criminal investigation to be opened and the true directors of Vortex Profits to be brought to justice.”


In order for this to take place, the advertisement states that victims must send $25 to the organisers by Payeer or Moneygram.

This is a scam. Despite suggesting that this is a company registered in the UK "PFI Digital (UK)" no such company of that name is currently registered in the United Kingdom.

Furthermore, they offer no more than a Gmail address and a cellphone number. The address they give, "56 Whetstone Lane, Birkenhead" in the UK is actually the address of a YMCA building.

Image c/o Google Maps
All of these facts confirm that this is a particularly shameless scam that is trying to exploit the victims of the previous Vortex Profits scam. Consumers are urged not to send any money to these scammers.

3. Policy values and "front-loading"

A consumer started a retirement annuity policy on 1st April 2017. She received a statement showing the state of the policy at 31st March 2018. This showed that she had paid premiums totalling P20,000 but they had deducted "Admin expenses" of P14,000 leaving a policy value of just P6,000. She asked if this was normal?

This is sometimes called “front-loading” and often happens with any investment of savings policy that is meant to last for many, perhaps 10 or 20 years. The sales agent or broker who sold you the policy don't want to wait for 10 or 20 years to get their commission of administrative costs, they want it now. That's why the fees are deducted from the policy value in the first year. A year or two later the premiums will have caught up with the deductions and it will start to accumulate real value. remember that these policies are for many years, not just for a short time.

The problem is that the sales agents and brokers sometimes forget to explain this. That's where action is needed.

4. Should I tell them?
“I have been paying an instalment at furnisher shop, and all of a sudden my contract is terminated and I struggle to pay. During the period I was working I really pushed to reach half of the sum. Am now owing 7k, and unfortunately our contracts ended. Should I go to the furnisher shop with letters showing them am still unemployed so that they stop putting more interest in my debt? Am willing to settle the remaining balance, but am still called by finance people reminding me to come pay though am not working. What should I do?”
Talk to them! Arrange a payment plan that you can afford and they can accept. They don’t want to go to court.

5. Car accident #1
“I am having a difficult time with an insurance company. My car was in an accident. My friend, who doesn't have a license, was driving me to the pharmacy and got hit by a guy who didn't stop at the STOP sign. My friend was charged with not having a licence and the guy was charged with negligence. [….] Insurance company told me there is a possibility of them not fixing my car even though their client did take the blame and acknowledged his fault.”
It wasn't just the guy who caused the accident and your friend who broke the law, you did as well. Section 30 of Road Traffic Act says that: “no person who owns or is in charge of a motor vehicle of any class shall cause or permit any person to drive such motor vehicle unless such person is the holder of a valid driving licence for that class of vehicle.”

I suspect that the insurance company might use this as an excuse not to compensate you. My advice is to go quiet and don’t draw attention to yourself, maybe you’ll be lucky!

6. Car accident #2
“My brother hit 3 cars last year while driving to work. He was found guilty by the police. He managed to help one of the owners to fix her car. The other 2 cars were insured so now the insurance companies want my brother to pay money close to hundred and something thousands. Is that allowed please help?”
Yes. The person who causes an accident pays to fix the damage caused. Insurance policies only benefit those who pay for them.

If your brother had his own vehicle insurance policy it would have paid the bills. Now he's going to need to find the money himself from somewhere. This is a very good example of why third-party vehicle insurance should be compulsory.

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Help! I didn’t visit those sites!

Please help. I received an email saying that I had visited adult web sites and that the man had installed a keylogger which gave him access to my system and to my camera which he said had recorded me. He said that his software program had obtained all my contacts from Facebook as well as my email.

The email says that I must send him $1,700 using Bitcoin or he will send the pornography he says I watched and the video of me from my webcam to all my contacts. What can I do? I didn’t watch online porn, I promise you. Please help.


The first thing you must do is not panic. This is a scam. Everything you have been told in this email is a lie. It’s nothing more than an attempt at extortion.

I’ve heard from a number of people who received emails just like this and guess what, I even received one myself and my colleagues have had them as well. The approach adopted by these scammers is to scare people into paying them the money they’re demanding. In your case it’s unlikely to work because you haven’t done any of the things you’re accused of doing. The scammers are relying on finding victims that have been viewing pornography online and have a guilty conscience about it.

My advice is just to delete the email and do the same to any others like it that you might receive.

Meanwhile, this is perhaps a very good opportunity to make sure your computer is fully protected. Whatever operating system you use, turn on your firewall, make sure you install all the updates your computer suggests and install an antivirus package and then keep it up-to-date. And finally, be very careful what web sites you visit!

Must he pay them?

Please I have a problem I hope you will help me out and thank you in advance. My brother hit 3 cars last year while driving to work. 4 cars were damaged 1 being the one he was driving. So he was found guilty by the police. He managed to help one of the owners to fix her car. The other 2 cars were insured so now the insurance companies want my brother to pay money close to hundred and something thousands. Is that allowed please help?


I’m sorry but that’s how it works. Your brother caused an accident that damaged several vehicles and the fact that the Police charged him is all the evidence that the insurance companies need to see that.

The general rule is that if you cause an accident, then you must pay for it. To his credit he’s done that already for the driver who didn’t have insurance but he must do the same with the others.

Even though they had vehicle insurance, and the insurance companies have paid to repair the other two vehicles, that doesn't change the fact that it's his responsibility to pay the bills.

The most important thing about vehicle insurance is that the insurance policy covers the costs of the person who pays for it, not anyone else. These insurance companies don’t cover your brother’s costs, they cover their customer’s costs. They were the ones paying the premiums, so they get the benefit.

Meanwhile, your brother should ask the insurance companies to justify the costs they're charging. He’s entitled to see copies of the invoices from the companies that repaired the vehicle but there's no way he can escape paying the bills if they’re legitimate.

The lesson is that everyone should have at least third-party vehicle insurance. If your brother had possessed such a policy, it would have covered the amount he now needs to find, minus a small “excess” payment he’d contribute.

Personally, I believe that third-party vehicle insurance should be compulsory. It’s not that expensive and it’s a LOT cheaper than the amount your brother now needs to find.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my insurance payment?

On the 23rd of May my television set was stolen from my home. However I had not completed the monthly payments for the TV with only three months left.

I submitted a police report to the store the week after the burglary took place and they promised to get back to us in due time. However it has been almost two months since I have given them the police report and I have not heard anything back from them. They keep saying they have been waiting for response from the insurance company but have so far not said anything concrete.

I hope your organisation can help me come to a positive result.


The first step is to escalate this issue so that someone senior within the company knows how long you’ve been waiting. I suggest that you call the branch manager and complain about the time this is taking. We’ll also contact the country manager to see if they can encourage their staff and the insurance company to speed things up a little.

Luckily, it seems that you’re up-to-date with your payments. Most hire purchase agreements include a clause which says that if you fall behind then you lose some of the so-called “benefits” the agreement offered you. One of these is often the insurance policy included in the agreement. If you don’t pay, the policy often won’t cover you.

One problem with these insurance policies is that they only last as long as the repayment period. The moment you make the final payment and the property finally becomes your property, the insurance policy dies. Another thing to understand is how expensive hire purchase insurance policies can be. It’s far better and much cheaper to get your own household insurance policy that covers everything in your house, not just the item your buying. A household insurance policy might seem expensive but like all insurance policies it’s often more expensive not to have one.

Where’s my insurance payment (again)?

I am having a difficult time with my insurance company. My car was in an accident. My friend, who doesn't have a license, was driving me to the pharmacy and got hit by a guy who didn't stop at the STOP sign. My friend was charged with not having a licence and the guy was charged with negligence.

I have been trying to get the company to fix my car as they long fixed their client's car but to this day I am still waiting. At first I was being helped by a lady who told me they couldn't fix it, so I asked for her supervisor. I have been sending him emails and he has been calling and asking me the same questions. I then asked for his supervisor who I talked to and he promised me to get back to me but I don't get any response on how far with the process unless I email them. I called him today and he said he would get back to me which I do not trust since it seems it is the only thing that they say but never do. To top it off, he told me there is a possibility of them not fixing my car even though their client did take the blame and acknowledged his fault.

I don't know what else to do as it has been 5 months of going around in circles with this company. Your response would be highly appreciated.


This might be another challenge. The biggest problem I foresee is that your car was being driven illegally. You allowed your car to be driven by someone who didn’t have a driving licence and I suspect that the insurance company is going to use that as an excuse to not pay you. Can you blame them? As far as the paperwork is concerned, at the time of the accident your car was being driven by someone who was incompetent and even though it was their client who caused the accident, they can use this situation to their advantage by spreading the blame to your friend and even to you.

In fact, you were lucky not to be charged yourself. Section 30 of the Road Traffic Act says that “no person who owns or is in charge of a motor vehicle of any class shall cause or permit any person to drive such motor vehicle unless such person is the holder of a valid driving licence for that class of vehicle.”

My advice is to wait and see what the insurance company say. That doesn’t mean you can’t encourage them to go a little faster, but don’t be too optimistic!

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Consumer Alert - PFI Digital and Vortex Profits

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

17th July 2018

Consumer Alert: PFI Digital and Vortex Profits


Consumer Watchdog would like to alert consumers about a scam that targets the victims of a previous  scam, Vortex Profits.

Background

Vortex Profits claimed to be “a remarkable investment platform … with an outstanding track record of 2 years for delivering best of class investment solutions and endless income-generating opportunity”. They suggested that investors could earn returns of between 2.5% and 4% every day by investing through Vortex Profits in Bitcoin, gold or oil.

Many people in Botswana paid significant amounts to join this obvious Ponzi scheme. They all lost.

PFI Digital

Recently, advertisements have been posted on social media suggesting that a company calling itself "PFI Digital" can assist victims of Vortex Profits to reclaim their lost money. These advertisements invite victims to complete a complaint form and submit it to the company. They suggest that there will be "a criminal investigation" and that the directors of Vortex Profits will "be brought to justice".


In order for this to take place, the advertisement states that victims must send $25 to the organisers by Payeer or Moneygram.

This is a scam. Despite suggesting that this is a company registered in the UK "PFI Digital (UK)" no such company of that name is currently registered in the United Kingdom.

Furthermore, they can offer no more than a Gmail address and a cellphone number. The address they give, "56 Whetstone Lane, Birkenhead" in the UK is actually the address of a YMCA building.

Image c/o Google Maps
All of these facts confirm that this is a particularly shameless scam that is trying to exploit the victims of the previous Vortex Profits scam. Consumers are urged not to send any money to these scammers.