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
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”