Saturday, 13 October 2018

Radio show notes - week beginning 8th October 2018

Source: Wikipedia
1. Motshelo schemes
"I borrowed P2,000 from a motshelo and I’ve been paying interest of 30% but at the end of August I did not pay and even this month I won't be able to pay as I don't have money at all. I explained this to the person who borrowed me that I’m not able to pay until end of October as I recently got a permanent job. Now the money is P5712. She is now threatening me that she will report me though I tried to explain my situation. How do I go about this? Is this right?"

2. Paper straws?

The ban on plastic bags is imminent I suspect we'll also soon have bans on other plastics goods such as straws, bottles, and other forms of packaging.

Is this the right thing to do? Yes, it certainly is. Yes, it' will be inconvenient but consider the environment damage. done by plastic products. Something must be done and these bans are a step in the right direction.

BUT, what about the quality of alternatives?

We received a complaint about the paper straws offered by one particular restaurant that clearly didn't see so good. In this case the manager of the restaurant responded, acknowledging the problem and saying that:
"I am confident that this issue will be resolved asap and a paper straw that is user friendly will be find very soon. Please bear with us in our process to become environmental friendly. Your input means a lot to us to improve our service."
One step at a time...

3. Longrich (again)

The people desperately trying to sell Longrich products and recruiting people into their scheme concede that Longrich is a pyramid scheme. In a WhatsApp conversation with one recently I asked
“Is it possible to make money from Longrich without selling products?” 
Their answer was simple:
Section 9 of the 2018 Consumer Protection Act defines a pyramid scheme as a scheme:
“where participants in the scheme receive compensation derived primarily from their respective recruitment of other persons as participants”.
It also 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”.
Longrich is a pyramid scheme.

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"?

The Longrich BioScience web site 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.

Here's some good news. The Ministry of Health and Wellness issued a Press Release.

It said:
The Ministry of Health and Wellness wishes to notify the public that the following complementary medicines are not approved for use in Botswana, Xiangzhiling products, C24 tea, Table Charm sonke products and Longrich medicinal products. These products are currently advertised on social media and sold through network marketing throughout the country. Therefore any person selling these products or any other related products will be charged according to Section 23 (1) (2) of the Medicines and Related Substances Act which states that

“(1) No person shall import, export, manufacture, distribute, sell, promote, advertise, store or dispense any medicine or cosmetic, unless the medicine or cosmetic is registered by the Authority. (2) Any person who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable to a fine not exceeding P100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or to both.”
“The public is advised to always seek advice from the Ministry of Health and Wellness Drugs Regulatory Unit about any medicinal products advertised to them. Should you find anyone selling or advertising this product or any unapproved medicinal products please contract the Ministry…
A pat on the back to the Ministry and the Drug Regulatory Unit. Another pat on the back to the Botswana Medicines Regulatory Authority who are gradually taking over responsibility from the Drug Regulatory Unit.

4. Crystal Cell

Just as we begin to see the end of the Longrich's products, another bogus products appears. Crystal Cell.

“This product heals cancer.” Really?

The people peddling this dangerous product claim that it's based on stem cells.

They strongly suggest that it can be "used" with stroke, traumatic brain injury, learning defects, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, wound healing, baldness, blindness, deafness, myocardial infarction, diabetes, cancers, arthritis. It can even be used with "missing teeth"? Are they serious?

But this is plant stem cells, not human. They can have no effect at all.

I think the Drug Regulatory Unit and the Botswana Medicines Regulatory Authority will be getting some more calls, don't you?

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why won’t they fix it?

I bought a black TV stand from a store in Palapye last month for P1830. On Friday 21 September I noticed that the stand is peeling. Looking closely I found that its not only peeling off but its cracking on the leg. On the following Tuesday I went to the store to lodge a complaint. The supervisor said there is no guarantee or warranty and there was nothing they could do to help me. She went further to say that its a first to hear of a situation of this kind since they started selling these TV stands. I then asked to see the store manager but he did not bother to come out of his office to help me, instead he told the supervisor to tell me that there is nothing that they can do about the situation.

Please help. I want an exchange or my money back.

A store manager that doesn’t want to talk to customers with problems? Let’s see how long his business lasts.

The current Consumer Protection Regulations are quite clear about your rights. Section 13 (1) (a) says that commodities or services must be “of merchantable quality” which means “fit for the purposes for which commodities of that kind are usually purchased, as it is reasonable to expect in light of the relevant circumstances”. So you can’t expect miracles but you can expect a TV stand to function as a TV stand for a reasonable time. However, there are certain situation in which this protection doesn’t apply. That’s if you agree to not having the protection of the law. A store can invite you to waive or abandon your rights and, if you agree to that, then the rights don’t exist. That’s why you’ll sometimes see a sign in a store saying that there’s either no warranty or a very limited warranty for certain goods they sell. Section 17 (1) (e) of the Regulations forbids a store from demanding consumers waive “the implied warranty of merchantability and fitness for use, unless a disclaimer is clearly and conspicuously disclosed”. So there must be a obvious sign saying this. However, the next section, 17 (1) (f) says that the store can only claim the consumer waived their rights if “the consumer has specifically consented to it.” I think that means something in writing.

I suggest that you go back to the store and explain this to them. If that fails, write them a letter complaining about their failure to honour your legal rights and copy it to us as well as the Consumer Protection Unit. That should make things happen!

Can she charge so much?

Richard I need your help to understand something. I borrowed P2,000 from a motshelo and I’ve been paying interest of 30% but at the end of August I did not pay and even this month I won't be able to pay as I don't have money at all. I explained this to the person who borrowed me that I’m not able to pay until end of October as I recently got a permanent job. Now the money is P5712 excluding August and September interest which is 30% each month. She is now threatening me that she will report me though I tried to explain my situation. How do I go about this? Is this right?

This is most certainly NOT right. I think the person running this scheme needs to be informed about a number of things. Firstly, she needs to know that despite motshelo schemes being considered an informal form of lending, they are still covered by NBFIRA, the Non Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority. You need to get in touch with NBFIRA immediately and see if this scheme has been registered with them and if they can intervene.

Secondly, she needs to understand a piece of law called the “in duplum” rule. This says that when a debt is settled, the amount of interest must not exceed the capital amount outstanding. You only borrowed P2,000 so the interest on top of that can never be more than P2,000. That’s just the law.

Lastly, she needs to understand that even if the law doesn’t forbid it, 30% interest per month is outrageous. There’s even a word for it: “usury”. Maybe you should ask the woman running this scheme if she claims to be a Christian. If she does, ask her to examine Ezekiel 18:13. Then she should examine her conscience.

Meanwhile, and I don’t mean this to appear sacrilegious, I suspect NBFIRA will have greater effect over her than the Bible and her conscience.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Radio show notes - week beginning 24th September 2018

Source: Wikipedia
1. Can they charge me for the refund?
“I bought goods at a certain shop in Molapo Crossing. I swiped my card to pay but now I returned goods the shop owner demand that I pay certain percentage since I was swiping. He says it's bank charges for swiping.”
Banks charge retailers for swiping (I think 5%?). Nevertheless, it's still in their (and our) interest to swipe, it avoids the risks of cash.

I suspect that when a store swipes to refund someone when they return an item, they have to pay that swiping fee again.

Remember also that we only have a right to return things if there was a fault with the item you purchased, not if you chose the wrong item or just changed your mind.

2. They blacklisted me #1
“I bought a TV at on hire purchase. A few months later I closed the credit by paying with cash. A few months later I get a call from creditors that I owe the store. I went to enquire about my account settlement and it seems that they didn't close it. Now my name is registered with ITC. I have been trying to talk to them so that I am assisted. They are not assisting me as I would have liked. It's been 4 months now. Kindly help me. My life has been really affected. I am missing job opportunities at banks and I can't get financial aid because of my bad credit record that was caused by the negligence of the store staff.”
“Negligence”? That's way too mild. I prefer the words “unprofessional” and “incompetent”.

The customer did the right thing, they paid off a debt as soon as they were able to and now they're being punished for it?

Paying off debt is ALWAYS a good thing to do, after you've set aside your emergency fund of three months outgoing, better still six.

We've already contacted the store in question.

3. They blacklisted me #2
“My boyfriend was blacklisted unfairly by Home Choice without even his knowledge. He ordered goods, they did not reach him when he checked at the post office they confirmed on the system that the goods were returned to Home Choice because there was no communication. When they called for payment he told them that he didn't receive the goods. Instead of resending them they blacklisted him and he only found out about it yesterday when he was processing a loan.”
We've heard this and similar stories many time. HomeChoice purchases aren't delivered, end up being returned, but the customer is still billed and sometimes listed with credit reference bureaux.

What to do? Make sure that you always and promptly contact HomeChoice when products aren't delivered or they're returned.

We’ve contacted HomeChoice (again).

4. Are we being sued?

In comes an email entitled "Court Notice".

“Our law firm is re-issuing the attached lawsuit filed against you by our client which requires your urgent attention. COURT SUMMONS Imminent: If this is not rectified within the next 48 hours. Read the lawsuit thoroughly. Regards, Paralegal - MML Law Firm.”
There are various warning signs. The email came from “”. That domain appears to be genuine and used by a legal consultancy in Bulgaria. Notice also that no names were mentioned, neither theirs or ours.

The critical issue is that attachment. Inside that compressed "zipped") attachment was a Windows executable (".exe") file. What would that do if executed? Will it steal data? Would it encrypt all the documents on you computer and demand a ransom like WannaCry did two years ago? Would it install a keylogger that would record everything you typed, including your internet banking username and password?

The lesson is very simple. Don’t open email attachments from unknown sources. Never.

5. An old friend is back

I thought they'd gone away, but the paddlers of the Syntek "Xtreme Fuel Treatment"are still peddling...
“Here is the products that reduces fuel consumption resulting in increased kilometres per litre. It prolongs engine life and reduces engine wear. Improves vehicle performance and horsepower… Or join now and make money”.
We covered Syntek and their preposterous product in 2015, including quite an extensive review of the documents they claimed showed their product worked. It did not. On the contrary, it showed that there was NO evidence of any effect.

Think about it. If it worked, the petroleum industry would have bought it by now, either to use it and make more money or to suppress it. If it worked, wouldn't Botswana Oil have invested in it? They haven’t, none of them have.

Did I mention that it's a pyramid scheme?

6. Qualifications and awards

It's important to be skeptical. About everything. In particular it's important to be skeptical about the awards, prizes, qualifications and titles people say they've been awarded. For years we've been reporting the various fake qualifications people have obtained and the fake establishments that sold them their fake degrees. We've also covered the fake awards people received.

Some will remember the “International Biographical Centre” that awarded people various titles, including the “International Order of Merit” and the “Twentieth Century Achievement Award” and who could place you on the list of “2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st Century”.

Recently, Limkokwing University have very proudly announced that their founder, Tan Sri Limkokwing:
"has been bestowed with the title Lord Limkokwing of Holton, UK in recognition of his decades long advocacy of fusing the best talents of education, industry and peace-building to change the world."

That seems curious to me. He's not a British citizen and has no strong connections to the UK. Has he really been made a Lord? So I asked. Specifically, I contacted the House of Lords in the UK and asked them if they knew about this.

They said:
"We can confirm that Lord Limkokwing of Holton is not a member of the House of Lords. Not all persons with the title ‘Lord’ or ‘Baroness’ are members of the House."
They continued:
"The vast majority of people with a title are not members of the House of Lords, for example those people who purchase a title"
Yes, you can purchase a title if you aren't awarded a real one. Obviously I'm not suggesting that Limkokwing has done anything wrong. Not at all. However, I am suggesting that their claim can be misinterpreted with many people likely to think that he is a genuine Lord, a genuine member fo the House of Lords in the UK.

In fact, he's probably as much of a Lord as I am.

Which I am.

If it's good enough for others, it's good enough for me. Following the example of others claiming the title of Lord, I claim it myself. I bought myself a Lordship. Along with my two ordinations, that now makes me Rev Rev Lord Richard Harriman. Don't forget to stand up when I enter the room.