Sunday, 10 November 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my wedding dress?

I need your help. I paid P3,000 deposit for a wedding dress worth P5,000. Now I do not need the dress anymore. The owner refuse to refund me because I requested the dress to be altered.

I’m not getting married anymore so what shall I do?


I’m sorry to hear that your wedding has been cancelled but I’m not sure there is much you can do. My understanding is that you ordered a wedding dress from a dressmaker and requested that she make some alterations to it? The dressmaker accepted your order and proceeded to alter the dress. So far everything is normal.

But then, through no fault of the dressmaker, you changed your mind about wanting the dress. I don’t know why the wedding has been cancelled, that’s not my business but it’s also not the business of the dressmaker, is it? Ask yourself this. Has she done anything wrong? Was it her fault that the wedding was cancelled?

The circumstances in which I would expect the dressmaker to refund are only those when SHE had done something wrong. If she’d made the dress improperly or incorrectly then yes, you would deserve a refund. If she’d delivered it late then yes again, you’d deserve a refund. But she did everything correctly, didn’t she?

I’m sorry that your wedding has been cancelled and how upset you must be. I’m also sorry that you lost money on a wedding dress that you can’t use but I don’t think there’s much you can do about that.

Where’s my laptop?

I purchased a laptop about 4 months ago, with a year's warranty. On its second month it displayed a software problem, I took it back for repairs, they took it to another company on condition that their turn around time is 6 week. After 3 weeks they brought it back claiming they have replaced the screen but the problem still persisted. I left it there and they took it back again. After 4 weeks from then, they brought it back and this time it wasn't properly closed, I took it back to them myself to also get clarification as to why the laptop always has to be returned to them and fiddled with so many times when its fairly new and why they were not producing a report of service which I requested for. I also raised a concern of the machine having marks and scratches. They took it for 2 week from them claiming they are now going to replace the palm rest which was not closed properly and had marks. At this point I told them I can not accept the laptop after being opened and fiddled with that many times when its fairly new but they claim there is no way they can help me with that and are now trying to force me to take the laptop back. I told them and they are also not assisting in any way, they promised they will at least get me a report and we work on the matter form there.

At this point I believe the laptop has drastically lost value due to their failure to repair the laptop without creating more problems that led to the story as I have told it.

All I want is value for money and I am in desperate need of a laptop to do the things I purchased it for.


The good news is that the law recently changed and it now offers you much better protection. The 2018 Consumer Protection Act changes a lot of things and this situation is one of them. To begin with, it states that when an item is faulty within the warranty period, the consumer has a right to one of the three Rs, a repair, replacement or a refund but it allows the supplier to decide which of those they offer. That’s nothing new, we’ve had that protection for a long time. What’s new is what happens next. Section 16 of the Act says that when a repaired item is returned to the consumer and the same problem recurs, the supplier shall either replace the goods or offer a refund. Just two Rs, no longer three. No more repairs.

It also says that repairs themselves must be warrantied for three months. I think you should explain this to the store and let’s see if they want to face the penalties for breaking the new Act. A fine of up to P100,000 of prison for up to five years. Or both.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is this a scam?

Please assist me with this matter.

I have received a call from this number claiming that I have a parcel at Cape Town, the parcel is from UK, Can you help check if the umber is legit, they said I should pay R2550 to clear it at the customs office. The number is +6787477204.


Regular readers of The Voice will know already what I’m about say, they’ve seen it before. This is a scam. The person who contacted us told the same story that we’ve heard many, many times. She met a man online and gradually, but perhaps slightly too quickly for a skeptical person to believe, developed a friendship with him. That friendship then developed into something more, something romantic and she started to think of him as her “boyfriend”. And then this mysterious man, who claims to lives far away and who says he has a well-paid job that involves a lot of travel, offered to send his new lady friend a package containing a range of gifts. The package always seems to include a laptop, jewellery, money and an Apple iPhone (these scammers seem to think Apple products are more appealing). And then the lady received a message from someone claiming to be either a shipping agent or a customs official saying that the package has been held up somewhere and this lady is required to pay them money to release it.

Of course, most of you will know by now that this is what the scam is all about. That payment to release the package. But obviously the package doesn’t exist. Just like the “boyfriend” doesn’t exist. Just like the relationship doesn’t exist. The only genuine thing is the money that the scammers will demand, no doubt to be paid using Western Union.

Update: I’ve already spoken at length with the victim and she understands now that she was being scammed. Unfortunately this is a particularly nasty case because the scammer threatened that if she didn’t pay the money he will publish the nude photos she sent him while she thought they were in a relationship. I’m sure we can all imagine how scared she was by that possibility. I’ve advised her to block the scammer on Facebook and WhatsApp so there is no real reason for him to carry out his threat.

The lesson is a simple one. Don’t trust anyone you meet online until you have a very good reason to trust them. And even then be careful. Assume that anything you say, publish or send them will be used against you.

How long does it take to fix it?

I bought a Sony home theatre at a furniture store Francistown but I stay in Selibe Phikwe. So it worked fine only the first week and from then the system monitor did not power on. I called them at Francistown and they told me to take it to their store in Phikwe. They told me they will have to take it to Gaborone so their technician can look through it. Its been 3 weeks now and they can’t update me on anything about it. When I call them they always extend the days I should expect feedback. So I want to know if is it ok for them to take the things that I have paid for this long? Their guarantee was for a year and I bought it for P3.2k.


When you buy something that is covered by a warranty like this, if something goes wrong during the warranty period you are entitled to one of the three Rs, a repair, refund or a replacement. However, it’s up to the store to decide which one of those three Rs they choose to offer you. They ARE within their rights to try and repair the monitor. However, Section 15 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations says that when a supplier like this one offers services, such as a repair, they must do so “with reasonable care and skill”.

I don’t think this sounds like “reasonable care and skill”, do you?

I think you should remind the store about this requirement and suggest to them that it means you’re entitled to know how long it will take for them to repair your property. They need to give you a commitment and I think we’ll get in touch with them as well to remind them about this.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is Crowd1 a pyramid scheme?

I would like to ask about Crowd1 investment group, how genuine is it? Is it a pyramid scheme?



Yes, it’s possible. The other possibility is that it’s a Ponzi scheme. Either way, it doesn’t matter, getting involved could result in serious fines and even jail time.

Several people have approached us recently asking the same question and it really seems that this South African scam is now looking for victims here in Botswana.

I joined one of their WhatsApp conversations and the introduction was always the same. “I would like to introduce you to a legitimate business that is paying so well and is still new globally. You get paid even if you dont recruit Register and earn real money.” There’s an interesting clue there. Why would a legitimate business make such a point about being legitimate? It’s a bit like a stranger introducing himself by saying “Hi, I’m not a criminal”.

The other clue comes in the next sentence in the conversation. “TURN R1800 TO R66000 MONTHLY SALARY”. I asked whether that was really correct, that by paying just “R1,800, you could earn R66,000 every month and they were clear that this was possible. However, they couldn’t give any real explanation about where the extra money might come from. Curiously, they also claim that people joining can make profit of “100% In 5 Days” and a bonus of “50% Per Referral”.

I think this is most probably a Ponzi scheme, in which some of the money paid by people to join is passed on to people who joined earlier. That’s the referral payment they’re talking about. In fact, what happens in most Ponzi schemes is that money isn’t actually paid to the people joining, it’s just held in a fake account online. The victims are often prevented from withdrawing their money because it doesn’t actually exist.

The good news for Botswana and the bad news for Crowd1 and anyone promoting it or even joining it is that this scheme is illegal. Section 9 of the Consumer Protection Act 2018 outlaws what it calls a “multiplication scheme which “offers, promises or guarantees … an effective interest rate that is above the market rate”. It also outlaws what it calls “chain letter schemes” in which “each successive newly recruited participant is required to make some form of payment which would be distributed to some of the previously existing participants”. The punishment for even joining such a scheme can be a fine of up to P100,000 or five years in prison. Are you prepared to take that risk?

Is the interest correct?

I bought some furniture a few months back on hire purchase. I was doing some end of year computations when I noticed that the interest charged on this contract of P1567.68 is precomputed. This means that it doesn't take into consideration the fact that the principal amount is been reduced with every instalment going forth and it will not change unlike in the AMORTISED system. Is this legal considering that they demand instalments which include capital. This doesn't favour consumers.


Do you think there is anything about hire purchase that favours customers? I don’t.

There are so many things I don’t like about hire purchase. The goods you think you’re buying don’t belong to you until you’ve made the final instalment, they remain the property of the store. The store can repossess the goods if you fall behind with your payments without a court order. The insurance included in the hire purchase agreement is often up to ten times as expensive as the insurance policy you can get elsewhere. If you buy something on hire purchase over two years, the total amount you pay is often double the cash price. Even if the goods are repossessed you can still owe the full amount or more once they add penalties and interest. The warranty on the goods you buy is usually only one year so if it goes wrong on the 366th day, you get no support and you still must pay for another year for something that no longer works.

Your question about interest is a good one but it’s not how hire purchase payments are made. As you say, the interest is calculated at the beginning of the contract and along with the various other elements such as delivery charges, installation and handling fees, contract costs and insurance and the total is then divided by the number of instalments and you pay them evenly throughout the entire period of the agreement.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can’t they delist me?

I would like you to intervene and speak to my bank management on my behalf to leniently remove me from ITC judgement listing. I took a loan in 2012 while employed as a soldier by Botswana Defence Force and resigned the following year. However plans did not go accordingly upon my next move and I was left jobless with debts hanging over me. I explained to the credit team about my situation but they insisted that despite that I should pay as per our loan agreement contract. I did struggle to pay while I was still looking for a job and trying out business until I began to pay P500 monthly through their lawyers.

Fast forward this year I managed to settle all the loan fees I owed so that I can start over my life with CEDA finance to venture into transport business but the main issue is CEDA can only finance me when I am removed because it sets a bad credit record to me, mind you I do not qualify for any bank loan since banks do not finance start up businesses and CEDA is the only financial lending institution that can assist me with finance.

I am aware that I was at fault as per loan agreement and do respect the bank policies but as a person, a single father to a 3 year old pre school going daughter my future and business is at a halt because of the ITC listing, it is also hindering me from adding value to Botswana's economy by providing service and employment to the unemployed as well as to raising my daughter as a responsible father.

I am kindly appealing to you to speak and plead to the CEO to leniently remove me from the ITC listing because the matter has been addressed to Head of Credit, Head of Legal, Head of Customer Care.


Unfortunately, this isn’t how listings with credit reference bureaux work. While your debt was still outstanding, the bank was right to list you with their bureau of choice. That’s because the debt was real and you still owed them the money. Unfortunately, that listing doesn’t automatically disappear when you settle the debt. My understanding is that the listing remains online for two years after settlement. That’s because it’s true that you were in debt and other potential lenders are entitled to know about your recent history. Think about it from the lender’s position. They want to know as much as possible about your financial history before they take a risk on you.


I suggest that you rethink your plans to develop your business. Take a pause, do some more research and think about what lessons you can learn from your last attempt. Then you can apply again when the listing is finally removed.

Where’s my refund?

Please I need your help. I bought a bedroom suit early this year from a store in Mahalapye. The agreement was my goods would be delivered in Maun but the goods never reached Maun and the managers kept on telling me that they will deliver the goods. Finally we came into agreement 3 months ago that they would refund me. My main complaint is that the keep on promising to give back the money and now is 3 months. What can I do? Thank you.


Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations says that when an agreement is “rescinded, cancelled, or otherwise terminated in accordance with the terms of an agreement” then the supplier must “promptly restore” any “deposit, down payment or other payment” that was made. The Regulations don’t say exactly how long “promptly” might be, but I think we can all agree that three months is not in any way prompt. Taking three months to repay your money is either incompetent or a deliberate attempt to keep your money. Either way, it’s not good enough and it’s time you escalated the matter. I suggest that you tell this company that you will be going to the Small Claims Court and asking for an order against them for the money you paid unless you get your money back within a week.

Send me their contact details and I’ll also get in touch with them and let them know how serious you are.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is Global Green Network legit?

That depends if you consider pyramid schemes legitimate!

Several people have asked me the same question recently. They’ve been approached by various people, some in Botswana, others in neighbouring countries, encouraging them to join. Their web site (which was first registered three months ago) describes the business as “an international Empowerment Organisation with the ultimate design of uplifting life’s with entrepreneur development and migration facilitation as rewards for our business partners.” But that’s just words.


I contacted one of the recruiters on WhatsApp and she explained to me what the business really is. I asked her to confirm that to make money with GGN “we don't sell any products, we make money just by recruiting other people?” She was very clear and replied, “Yes we only market the business”. Another member of the WhatsApp group also said, “Yes in GGN we don't sell anything”.


The recruiter I spoke to, who was based in Namibia, was incredibly enthusiastic and has been bugging me ever since to join. I think that enthusiasm says a lot, don’t you? She clearly urgently needs recruits to make the money she was promised.

The bad news for anyone attempting to recruit into the scheme in Botswana is that Section 9 of the new Consumer Protection Act defines a pyramid scheme as a business in which income is promised or made “primarily” from the recruitment of other members rather than the sale of products or services. GGN’s own people confess that this is the case. The new Act makes it very clear that promoting, or even just joining a pyramid scheme is punishable by a fine of up to P100,000 or five years in prison. Or both. Is that a risk you want to take?

Where’s my car?

I bought a car at Mogoditshane on 11th June 2019 and I immediately noticed that it had a leaking engine oil which I reported. The manager said they can only repair it which I complied with. They took the car to fix the leaking oil and afterwards it had a "check engine light sign" which I reported and they said I should bring it for fixing. It also had a problem with water circulation. They took the car for the second time. To my surprise the car still had check engine light. I took the car to them and they tested with the machine and they explained to me that it was a sensor problem and I can bring it back to them to be fixed. I also informed them that there's a leakage of oil again. On 20th August the car engine died. They took the car for repair and now its 6 weeks since they took it and they still haven't fixed the problem.

My question is how long can I wait and what is the best route that I can take to attend this problem legally with minimal cost.


Unfortunately, this certainly isn’t the first time I’ve heard stories like this. I know it’s too late to give you this advice, but whenever you buy a second-hand car, there are several things you must do before signing anything or handing over your money. Firstly, and this seems obvious but you’d be surprised how often people fail to do this, but you must take the vehicle for a test drive. Even an ordinary driver might be able to identify some clues that something might be wrong with the way the vehicle behaves and responds. Secondly, ask the person or garage selling the vehicle for some evidence that it’s in good condition. Ask for a roadworthiness certificate if it’s an imported vehicle or for the service history. You should be looking for a vehicle that was cared for by its previous owners.

Lastly, and this is the most important recommendation, always get the vehicle checked by an independent mechanic or at least someone with more knowledge than you about how cars work. If you don’t know anyone, you can always “borrow” one from a garage you’ve used in the past. It might cost you a little cash or some beer but it will be worth it to get some specialist advice.

In your case I suggest that you write the seller a letter or email saying that Section 16 of the Consumer Protection Act of 2018 says that a consumer can return an item in its original condition within six months if it is not “of a quality that that consumers are reasonably entitled to expect”. You should also inform them that Section 17 says that when a supplier repairs something they must offer a three-month warranty on that repair. Do they want to be one of the first companies to be prosecuted for breaching this new law?

Saturday, 5 October 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can they take me to court?

I lost my job last year August and have not been able to get work since. I have a mortgage with NDB and have not been able to pay since Jan 2019. I then engaged the bank in July telling them my situation and asking them for options on what we can do so that I do not continue to owe them. The bank said they can do nothing but to litigate me at my cost and get a court order to take my house from me.

I wrote them a letter requesting them to not litigate me as I can afford the legal costs of litigation, nor want the added stress and emotional burden of being taken to court and my name being publicly published in the newspapers bringing shame and humiliation to my name and family name. Publicising my name in such a manner will also hurt my prospects of future employment. In the same letter I requested to them that I surrender the property to them immediately as the end result of the litigation will be the same. They refused and said it is not their process they have to litigate.

I wrote them another letter and asked for 6 months to sell the house privately. They agreed to give me the 6 months, the deadline is December 2019 but they said they will still go ahead with the litigation process and implement the court order in December 2019. I have had 2 offers to buy the house but both have fallen through. I really do not want to be litigated especially since I am willing to surrender the property without the added extra cost and emotional trauma.

Can you please help me to convince them to allow me to surrender the property please? They do seem to understand the mental damage they are doing to us. I know I owe them and I honestly would pay if I had money but I don’t. I hope you can help me Mr Richard. Please.


I’m really sorry to hear about this situation. I can’t imagine how stressful this might be.

Unfortunately, I think I can understand why the bank are being so strict. Not every customer is as cooperative and decent as you are. I hear plenty of stories about consumer being abused by banks, but I also hear many stories about customers who do their best to avoid their obligations. I suspect that the bank is being extremely cautious, based on their previous experience of some people in your position. They need that order against you in case you aren’t able to honour your obligations.

The key thing is to keep talking to the bank. Let them know about everything that happens so they can never tell a court that you’ve been uncooperative.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my bath tub?

Good Morning Richard! I need your help. There is a hardware store in Lobatse, we long paid for goods and transport for goods to be delivered at Goodhope in the beginning of August, Even up to now they haven’t delivered all the goods. They keep on delivering the wrong item. We had told them we want a white ceramic bath tub and we were told ceramic is only in pink and we opted for it only for them to deliver a white plastic tub and a changed story that they don’t sell ceramic. Can you please help so that we get the rightful items or a refund because we should have long started plumbing.


I think the time has come to walk away from this deal and get a refund, don’t you?

This store is clearly incapable of delivering what you ordered and you need to a find a better store, not only one that can deliver what you order but one that won’t make up stories to cover up their uselessness.

I suggest that you contact hem and tell them, either in writing or by message that you are cancelling the deal because they have failed to deliver what you ordered from them and what they agreed to supply. Tell them that they have breached Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations of 2001 by trying to offer you goods that did not “match any sample or description given to the consumer”. Tell them that they have also breached Section 13 (1) (d) by supplying goods that were not “of a particular standard, quality, or grade” and not “of a particular style or model”.

You should then remind them that Section 15 (1) (e) of the Regulations requires a supplier like them “to promptly restore” and payments that have been made when a deal is cancelled like this. I’m not sure what “promptly” means exactly but maybe give them seven days to pay you back. You should end by saying that if they don’t cooperate with your very reasonable cancellation of the deal and refund your money you’ll ask the Small Claims Court for an order against them for the money you paid them. Maybe that will be enough pressure?

Is World Class Billionaires a pyramid scheme?

Definitely, no doubt about it.

There are various clues about this scheme that suggest it’s a scam. For instance, they claim on their web site that it's their "3rd Year of Operation" and they have "Over 12 Years of Experience" but their domain was only registered on 13th June this year.

They also claim that they are based in Dubai, saying that their physical address is "Suite 17, The Iridium Building, Umm Suqeim Road, Al Barsha, Dubai". It took me just a few seconds to discover that this is an accommodation address used by dozens of companies.

Then there are the claims they make. They say that you can earn "10% to 14% Monthly". If that was true, which it clearly isn’t, and you made that sort of money and you reinvested it each month, that would give you an annual percentage rate of 382%. That’s absurd and clearly a lie.

It’s interesting that on their web site they offer some "testimony" from someone who they claim is in Botswana although I can’t find a trace of the person they name. This probably fictitious person says:

"I am still new in WCBG. I Partnered with P5 000 in February and I got P800 four times in March, April, May and June. Thank you for coming to Botswana. I will buy my first house next year!"
Look at that quote again and do the maths. This person apparently invested P5,000 and so far has received P3,200 back. So they’ve currently made a loss of P1,800? And that’s a success? That’s how they’re going to afford to buy a house? Is that meant to be persuasive?

This is very simple. World Class Billionaires is an illegal "multiplication scheme" that offers returns above the market rate. This is forbidden by Section 9 of the Consumer Protection Act of 2018 and the maximum penalty for promoting or even joining such a scheme is a fine of up to P100,000 AND prison for up to 5 years. Is that a risk worth taking?

Saturday, 21 September 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Did he swindle me?

In September last year I went into an agreement with a Forex company in Commerce Park for the PAMM account offered by Hot Forex trading for a period of 6 months. Unfortunately in March 2019 they wrote me a letter purporting that the account has been hacked, which Hotforex trading desk denied. I have since lost over P36,000 of the P50,000 that I invested. I have followed him up on numerous occasions to pay me back but I have failed, even the P2,500 that was a security fee, he has refused to refund me.

Kindly assist because I suspect he has swindled a lot of us as there was a number of us who invested into the PAMM account and he has always refused to reveal the names of the other people. He has threatened that wherever I report, I will not be able to get my money back.


I think this is very suspicious. The Botswana-based forex company you met offer the services of the HotForex trading company which is based in St. Vincent & the Grenadines in the Caribbean. However, from the documents you sent me, it’s clear that you were dealing primarily with the local company. They were the ones who marketed the 60% profit they claimed you could make within six months.


There are various approaches we can use to apply pressure on the local company. Firstly, they made the claim that you could make 60% return on your investment. That claim is illegal, contrary to Section 9 of the 2018 Consumer Protection Act which outlaws what it calls “multiplication schemes” where a company “offers, promises or guarantees to a participant an effective annual interest rate that is above the market rate”.

Also, it sounds to me that they were offering investment services. The agreement you signed certainly refers to you as the “investor” many times. I think that means they might be in deep trouble with NBFIRA who regulate financial and investment advisors.

Finally, there’s the claim that the company in the Caribbean was “hacked”. I can find no news reports of that happening and it’s a big enough story to have been widely reported. I suspect he’s making up stories.

Let’s both contact NBFIRA and I’ll also contact the local guy who seems to be telling stories. Let’s see if he can be more helpful?

Is World Ventures a pyramid scheme?

I am writing to you in order to hear facts concerning World Ventures Company and what is being said that about it that it is a Pyramid scheme. Can you please help me understand why it is said to be a pyramid scheme so as to have a concrete idea concerning it.


World Ventures is most certainly a pyramid scheme and it’s not just me that says so. The authorities in Norway declared it a pyramid scheme in 2014 and despite World Ventures spending a lot of effort and money appealing that ruling, they failed over and over again. In 2015 the Malaysian authorities declared it an “illegal business”. Three years later, in 2018 the Rwandan authorities warned their consumers that it was a pyramid scheme. This year, the Taiwanese have laid charges against the organisers claiming that World Ventures is “a classic pyramid scheme”. I think there’s a pattern emerging, don’t you?


Like all other pyramid schemes, the truth is simple. The people at the top of the pyramid make money but only at the expense of the people they recruit them. Their latest income disclosure statement World Ventures published in the USA in 2016 showed firstly that 80% of the people who joined made nothing from World Ventures. NOTHING at all. Of the lucky ones who made any money, 77% of the money earned went to the top 5% of people. 74% of the people earning money shared just 10% of the income. And how much money did people actually make? If you include just those people who made money, the average earnings per year is a measly $355. If you include everyone in the scheme, it's a pitiful $30.

So please don't waste your time, money and effort joining pyramid schemes like this one. Remember that the new Consumer Protection Act makes promoting or even just joining a pyramid scheme illegal. Joining could result in a fine of up to P100,000 and five years in prison. Is it worth the risk?

Saturday, 14 September 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my lay-bye?

This email serves to lodge a complaint against a store in Francistown. I had made a laybye of a jacket which cost P1,380 sometimes between end of May or beginning of June 2019 and due to some unforeseen circumstances failed to pay the full amount. I visited the branch today and requested to cancel the laybye and had no problem with the 10% penalty / cancellation fee. I requested for a cash refund to enable me to use the funds elsewhere and even after the penalty, I was informed that they cannot give me a cash refund that they can only put the refunded amount in a gift voucher which I can only use to buy at the same store. They are forcing me to buy at their store even after the penalty which I agreed to pay which is 10% of the P345 I had paid as deposit.

Is there a way consumer watchdog can assist on the issue?


Like almost every agreement, this depends on what was in writing. Written agreements are everything. They’re the only things that matter. Verbal agreements are worthless.

I suggest you go back to any written agreement you had with the store and see what it says about payment terms. What does it say will happen if you default? Does it say that you’re not entitled to a cash refund? Does it say you must accept a voucher to spend in their store? Is that what it says? That’s the agreement you are committed to.

However, if there was no written agreement, I suspect you might be in a slightly more powerful position. My suggestion would be to deliver a letter or email to the store saying that you are cancelling the deal. Make your letter is the first thing that’s in writing. Tell them that the deal is cancelled and that in accordance with Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations of 2001, you are formally cancelling the deal and that they must therefore restore to you any “deposit, down payment, or other payment” you have made to them. Remind them that the Regulations say that such a refund must be made “promptly”. It doesn’t define exactly what “promptly” means but I think we all know when something isn’t done promptly, don’t we?

Where are my forex profits?

There is a company in the CBD led by a certain lady who is a forex trader, I have been following her page in Facebook since 2017 before it disappeared this year. The company was doing great and it's services caught my eye. So beginning of this year around February she introduced account management and entrust account. I checked her at the CBD office with my husband and she gladly explained or described the two new services i.e their advantages and disadvantages. And we told her that we will think about them first. After 3 /4 months I went back to her CBD office to sign up for the entrust account. The account worked more like a loan to her in which we signed a contract on the 12th June 2019 and the contract was valid till the 12th August 2019 that's when she was supposed to return the money with the interest she agreed to pay. But she has since resorted to not paying me. She extended till the 30th August but still she couldn't pay and she promised to pay on the 6th September, but she has since blocked my number. Is there anyway u can help or advice me to solve this.


Here’s a simple truth. Forex trading by individuals like you and me is no different to gambling in a casino. Many of us have heard stories of people who’ve won fortunes in casinos and many of us might have heard of people who made money from trading foreign exchange. Some of these stories might even be true but they cover up the stories that are never told. The VAST majority of people who gamble in casinos lose their money, just like the VAST majority of people who trade forex who also lose the money they gamble.

You need to remember that while forex trading is often described as a “zero-sum” game, where overall the amount of money stays the same, where for every winner there’s a loser, this isn’t actually true with forex trading. Ordinary mortals like you and me, if we’re reckless enough to trade forex, need to do so through a forex trading platform who take a cut from everything we trade. THEY are the only ones who consistently make money from the business. Whoever wins and loses, they make money. That’s why they’re so desperate to recruit new people.

In your case, I wonder whether any forex trading even took place? I think you should contact both the Bank of Botswana who regulate “deposit-taking” schemes and NBFIRA who oversee anyone who offers investment advice. Between them I think they have the power to make this person explain herself. Send me her details and I’ll get in touch with her as well.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

He’s threatened me with the police!

Sir, I need your help here please. I sold someone a phone. I told the guy before he bought the phone that its not working it fell hard on the floor but still he wanted it. He even charged it himself. Now he is saying it looks like the charging system is burnt and he is demanding his money back and he is threatening me with the police. What can I do?


The first thing you should do is try to find any records you might have that describe the state of the phone you sold this guy. It doesn’t matter whether they’re SMSs, WhatsApp messages or emails, so long as they prove that when you sold him the phone, you had made it very clear that it wasn’t in working condition. Then, if he does involve the authorities, you can show them that he knew exactly what he was buying.

More importantly, in future, you should always sign a sale agreement whenever you sell something of value. It doesn’t need to be a complicated agreement and you certainly don’t need an attorney to draft it for you. It just needs to describe the item you’re selling in detail, including the model, specification and serial numbers. It also needs to include a description of the state of the item, it’s condition and how well it’s working. Also include the cost that was agreed and how the money was paid. Finally, it needs to include a statement saying that the person buying the item understands all of this, agrees to it and that ownership transfers when the payment is made. All it then needs is both your signatures and date and you’re done. If you want to go an extra step, ask a couple of other people to witness the agreement for you.

In your situation, given that there is no such sale agreement, I suggest you tell the guy that you have messages proving that he understood the state of the phone and that he’s welcome to think about that before contacting the Police.

Must my husband pay?

My husband had an accident last February with a car belonging to a company but the car was not as badly damaged like my husband's. The accident was caused by my husband and the police were called to the scene and he was charged. The other driver told my husband that he will see how to cover it at work as the car was not that damaged so they parted my husband knowing that he doesn’t have a pending case. To our surprise at the end of October last we received a court case from a lawyer saying my husband should pay them P26,436 for the damage to the company car. So my issue is it possible to attend the car without the plaintiff’s knowledge then to an extent of suing him only for the company driver to tell him it’s a minor issue.



Unfortunately, it was unwise to rely on the what the other driver said. He had no authority to speak on his company’s behalf and he certainly wasn’t entitled to say that the company would not take action against your husband.

I don’t know whether the company had insurance that covered the cost of repairing their vehicle but regardless of that, it doesn’t alter the fact that your husband, the person who caused the accident, is liable to bear the costs of the repair. If they had insurance, the insurer would pay for the repairs and then claim that money back from your husband. If they didn’t have insurance, they would simply instruct attorneys to chase him for the costs. Either way, your husband pays because he’s the one who caused the accident.

With hindsight, it obviously would have been best if your husband had taken out his own vehicle insurance policy. If he’d done that then his insurance policy would have covered the cost of repairing the other vehicle. If he’d had a fully comprehensive policy it would have paid the repair costs for his own vehicle as well.

I know what many people think that insurance is an expensive luxury but they only think that until they need it. Then it suddenly seems like a bargain.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

I want my refund!

Hello Mr Richard. I have a problem with my school. They don’t want to refund me. The thing is they promised me that school starts on the 12 August, up to now no classes that have resumed. They told me they can’t teach me because am turning up to class alone. Is that my problem? I asked them to refund me my money so I can go to other schools. They are playing games with me but time is going. Please help me. I want my money back. I paid P3700, P200 for registration which is non refundable I don’t have problem with that. I want my P3,500 back.


I think you’re being too generous. I don’t care whether the P200 was meant to be refundable or not, I think you should get it back. Every last thebe.

I think the school needs to understand that it wasn’t your fault they weren’t able to recruit enough people for their course. They need to take responsibility for that and start respecting your right to a full refund. A FULL refund.

I suggest that we both contact them and explain to them that Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations says that when an agreement such as yours with the school is “rescinded, cancelled, or otherwise terminated”, like the school did by failing to offer the course, they must “promptly restore” any payments that have been made. It seems strange that a school, a center of education and knowledge, doesn’t understand what the word “promptly” means. Let’s explain it to them.

I want my refund as well!

We paid a company P2,500 for a wedding tent package, the quotation was P20,000 for 100 people and we were asked to pay a deposit of 50%. Unfortunately the bank could not issue us cash, the cash at hand was P2,500 and we paid it telling them it is to secure the date of October 27, and will pay deposit on the 19th.

After paying when arriving home for my cousins wedding, we found the tent package there was much cheaper. For 100 people it was only P8,000. Then we took decision to cancel the contract. We went back to within an hour time to reverse it and asked to be refunded and they told us it's impossible their deposit is non refundable. We debated issue but refused and they told us we can go where ever we want that's their policy. Their quotation has 2 clauses, 50% deposit not refundable and another one in same quotation says any cancellation less than a week before delivery date attracts 20% cancellation fee.

I want mediation to be refunded my deposit.


I can offer you good news. I can also offer you some bad news.

Let’s begin with the bad news. A cancellation clause in a contract is a common thing, particularly the last one you mention, that if a deal is cancelled at the last minute, there will be a penalty to be paid. I don’t think 20% is unreasonable, given that the supplier might have turned away other customers, spent money buying or hiring products or booking staff. However, that’s not relevant in your situation, you’ve cancelled the booking far in advance.

Your problem is the non-refundable deposit. Again, there’s nothing wrong with a non-refundable deposit in principle but in this case it seems excessive. The problem is that it’s in writing. You sent me a copy of the quotation and it is very clear that they want a 50% deposit and you don’t get it back if you cancel the booking. The rule is simple. Once something is in writing, that’s it.

And now the good news. You didn’t actually pay a 50% deposit. For once the failure of a bank has done you a favour. You only paid them P2,500, a 25% deposit.

I think you should accept that you’ve lost the 25% deposit that you paid and think yourself lucky that it’s only that amount you’ve lost.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my refund?

Good day.

Sometime around August last year, a member of my church went around selling tickets for a concert that was to be hosted in Gaborone. My two friends and I bought tickets for P250 each. That concert did not happen last year and we were told that they were waiting for the artist to get her visa to travel to Botswana and that the concert would happen in March this year. This did not happen either and we have been trying to recover our money to no avail. The person we paid keeps telling us that the organisers let her down and she has been promising to refund us the money but not keeping those promises. What is our recourse in this situation? Thank you for your assistance.

"Frustrated"


I can understand why you call yourself “frustrated”. I would be too in your position.

In theory, the situation is quite simple. You paid this woman for the tickets and if she can’t provide them then you deserve a refund. Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Act says that when a transaction is “rescinded, cancelled, or otherwise terminated”, the supplier must “promptly restore” any deposit or payment made. Note that the law says ”promptly”. It doesn’t say exactly how quickly that should be because every case is different but I think we all know when something is NOT prompt. From March to today, that’s five months. That is certainly NOT prompt. I think we can all agree on that.

I contacted the lady you paid for the tickets and she’s been just as unhelpful to me. She’s blaming other people as well although my detective work suggest she might be more closely connected to the organisers than she lets on. She’s given me the contact details of these other people but they don’t seem interested in responding either. Curiously, I contacted the same people before regarding the same failed event. You clearly weren’t their only victim. It seems to be a habit of theirs.

I suggest that you contact her and tell her that you’ll be approaching the Small Claims Court for an order against her for the money you spent. I’ll contact them as well just so they know what’s coming. Maybe that threat will encourage them to do the right thing? Eventually.

I feel robbed!

I need clarity on something. There was an advertisement by a furniture stores for a bed which indicated that the instalment was P209 however when I got to the shop it was a different figure altogether (P349). I asked the lady in the shop about it but she said they made a mistake, I took the bed because I wanted it but I need to understand if the reason I was given was fair enough. I feel robbed. What can I do so that other consumers cannot fall into the same trap?


I’m a little confused.

Firstly, let’s talk about the incorrect figure the store advertised. Technically, the store broke Section 13 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations by selling something not as it was "advertised or represented". They advertised instalments of P209 and that’s what they should have been. However, we all sometimes make mistakes. I don’t think we can reasonably expect the store, assuming the mistake was genuine, to lose 40% of the money they wanted to make from your purchase.

The problem you now face is the you entered voluntarily into an agreement and you’re now committed to it. Personally, I think it was a mistake to sign it if the difference was so great. Unfortunately, you agreed to be a victim of their mistake.

As for preventing other consumers from falling into the same trap? I think they just need to read and understand every document they’re asked to sign, BEFORE they sign them. They also need to think a lot more carefully before signing ANY hire purchase agreement.

I also think that consumers need to educate themselves, or to be educated on these issues. Watch the media, you might see us doing exactly that very soon!

Saturday, 17 August 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why are they charging me?

I would like to request your help with a recurring problem that I have with my bank. In a nutshell, money is mysteriously taken from my account and they are unable to provide me with a reasonable explanation why. Since November last year 2018 an amount of P650 was deducted monthly from my account will out my consent. When I protested to my bank, I was told that a furniture store was the one deducting my money.

The strange thing is that I have never bought anything from them ever and I wanted an explanation from my bank as to who authorized them to take money from my account without my knowledge. They failed to give me a satisfactory answer, and instead resorted to using big accounting jargon to make it appear complicated to the lay man that I am. Both would point a finger at each other and I was stuck running between them. Eventually, I had to close down the account and open a new account to solve this problem. However, I was shocked when yet again another deduction happened on the 26th of July and this time the money deducted was P900.

I don't earn much and struggle to make ends meet even without the deductions. You can imagine how hard it is to explain to people such as my landlord. I feel like the bank is taking me for granted because I have no one to stand up for me nor can i afford to seek professional help. Please help me by being that voice.


This is outrageous and completely indefensible.

I’ve already contacted the bank on your behalf asking them to investigate. Surely somewhere in their records they have the original documentation, the forms that someone completed to set up the monthly deductions? You have a right to discover whether something went wrong and how your account was used to pay either someone else’s debt or a non-existent one.

If it’s shown that this was a mistake you’ll also deserve a complete refund of the money you paid. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear from the bank.

Why won’t they pay him?

Please help my dad. He got a funeral plan in February and paid upfront up to end of August then he covered his niece then last week his niece passed away. He went to them on Friday asking for the claim to bury his niece. Firstly they said they are still assessing if they can give him the money and he should come back on Friday. Then on Friday they told him they closed the account and there is no how they can help him and now went back frustrated. Now they say they can't help him, he can't claim. He doesn't know how to read or write.


Firstly, my condolences on the loss of your father.

I contacted the insurance company and they looked at your father’s policy and the news isn’t good. The policy your father bought has a 6-month waiting period before the customer can make a claim. That’s quite a common thing with many insurance products and medical aid schemes. In your father’s case he’d only had the policy for 5½ months so hadn’t quite made it to the time when he could claim.

Then there’s more. Even though your father was the person who paid for the policy, the insurance company tell me that it was in his niece’s name. I suspect that’s because your father wasn’t able to read or write? Maybe he asked her to be the signatory? Whatever the reason, now that she’s passed on, the named policyholder is no longer around and that’s why the policy has now been cancelled.

Meanwhile, here’s a bigger question. How exactly did an insurance company sell this policy to someone disabled by their inability to read and therefore fully understand the policy they were getting? What efforts did the salespeople make to ensure that their client fully understand it? Did they explain the waiting period? Did they explain the consequences of putting the policy in the niece’s name rather than your father’s?

Section 17 (1) (g) of the Consumer Protection Regulations forbids a supplier from taking advantage of a consumer's because “of disability, illiteracy or inability to understand the language of an agreement”. Section 6 (2) of the new Consumer Protection Act of 2018 does the same thing, outlawing them from exploiting consumers due to their “physical or mental disability, literacy, inability to understand the language of an agreement or contract”. People such as your father who have the misfortune not to be able to read or write deserve to have that respected. Is that too much to ask?

Saturday, 10 August 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my insurance?

I would like to know the proper channel to follow when complaining about the insurance company that does not want to pay the promised benefits while claiming.

In my case the was is a portion in the brochure that say the we shall claim the following with no extra cost being cow worth P5,000. P3,000 worth of grocery and P5,000 for tombstone. This same brochure is still being advertised as we speak. Upon claiming we received only money for burial and the three benefits we were told we will receive only one item. They said the policy holder was suppose to pay P3 extra to qualify and therefore we won’t receive any. We requested for the policy documents and we were told it was verbal since they were dealing with group and members of the said group are largely illiterate to understand any obligation from the insurance company. Kindly advise me of which step to take if advisable to do so since the insurance company always say they will come back to us but are taking forever now. My fear is the same brochure is being given to people as they sell their products.

This is unacceptable. I wonder if this insurance company know how many rules they’ve broken?

To begin with they’ve misrepresented their product by not explaining that the policyholder needed to pay extra for the benefits they were offered. Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations forbids a supplier from selling a product that “does not match any sample or description given to the consumer”. Section 13 (1) (e) says they must offer products and services “as advertised or represented”. Section 17 (1) (g) outlaws exploiting a consumer’s “illiteracy or inability to understand the language of an agreement”. I could go on.

I don’t know how long ago you took this policy but earlier this year, NBFIRA, the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority published their new Policyholder Protection Rules that cover the sale and delivery of insurance products. These rules say that a person or company selling an insurance policy must disclose “any special terms and conditions, exclusions, waiting periods, loadings, penalties, excesses, restrictions or circumstances in which benefits will not be provided”. They also say that when any advice or information is offered verbally, that advice must be put in writing within 30 days.

I think you need to speak to NBFIRA as soon as possible and get their advice. They have the power and the willingness to use it.

Where’s my medical aid?

Hello Richard. Please help me with my medical aid. In January 2019 they closed my account even though my payments were up to date. I only noticed this when I was trying to do my payments end of January. Apparently the account was closed around September 2018 without my knowledge. I've been sending them emails asking them to tell me how long was my account closed up until Jan 2019 and haven't got anything yet. They only managed to reactive it in March 2019 and they have been deducting my monthly payments directly from my account since March. I haven't balanced the December and January fees yet (the one they refused to take back in January after they closed my account for no reason and without letting me know). Last week I received a message that my account has been suspended due to non payment of December and January fees. I send them an email (sent it to 5 people who are aware of my case) but haven't got any response from any of them. Today I received another message that my account has been terminated.


We all make mistakes. None of us are perfect because we’re human, not robots.

However, I’m a little less tolerant of organisations that make mistakes. Yes, they’ll happen occasionally but why do they happen repeatedly and why do they sometimes become so complicated? Why also, when mistakes happen, don’t they get fixed as soon as possible?

Your medical aid company had several opportunities to look into your situation and fix it. There’s really no excuse for taking so long to fix your problem.

The good news is that I contacted senior managers at your medical aid company and they promised to intervene and do their best to sort things out, unlike their more junior staff.

UPDATE: The senior managers got back to me, saying that they contacted the customer, apologized and have agreed a payment plan that allows him to catch up and get back to normal. Finally!

Saturday, 3 August 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must she have the receipt?

Please assist us here. I am writing this on behalf of my little sister who has had a bad experience with store in Main Mall.

She purchased a laptop charger and was not issued a receipt, the assumption was that the cashier forgot to give it her at the time nonetheless when she tried to use the charger it did not work. So she's gone back to the shop and was told she would not be assisted because there was no receipt. However, she knew who she had dealt with and at the time of going back to the shop was told the cashier man was not in and should check again a day later. A day later she went back and was told he had been fired.

She talked to the store owner who was adamant that he would not refund her because of the no receipt. Our contention is that there are other store employees that verified that she had bought at the shop and confirmed this to the owner and he still wouldn't help. She's seeking a refund as the charger doesn't work and would want to go look for another one elsewhere.

Can you help us with this matter?


Unfortunately, I’ve heard of this situation many times before and it’s always very frustrating. Usually it’s when people have misplaced or thrown away their receipt that they have difficulties, not like your sister’s case when she was never given one. I might have had some sympathy for stores in the past but in 2019, surely almost all stores use an electronic till when they sell something? Surely their till, or the computer system behind it has a record of the sales they made? If they don’t, how do they keep track of the VAT they owe BURS? How do they keep records to show the owner the profits they’re making?

I simply don’t believe that the store can’ verify that a particular item was sold on a particular date and a particular time, even if they can’t say who bought it. In your sister’s case, there are even witnesses who confirm that it was your sister who bought the charger. I think it’s safe to assume that the store owner is not a very nice person. Or not a very good businessman. Or both.

I suggest that you visit the store and explain that Section 17 (1) (d) of the Consumer Protection Regulations says that the store is not allowed to cause “a probability of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the legal rights, obligations, or remedies of a party to a transaction”. See if that has any effect?

UPDATE: It wasn’t necessary. I was told that “after getting back to them and threatening to engage your services the store manager has agreed to pay her back and has collected the refund and given back the laptop charger.” Good news but why do some stores make life so difficult?

Where’s my refund?

Please assist if you can. My girlfriend and I booked with a guest house at Kazungula. We were requested to pay 50% up front in order to reserve our 3 night stay. We send proof of payment which was never acknowledged. When requesting for acknowledgment the manager got angry and cancelled our reservation and promised a refund. Even up to now he hasn’t refunded us. This was for the 14-17th July.


I’m not sure why some people in business allow their bad temper to show itself to their customers. Frankly, I don’t care whether this or any other business owner, manager or employee is having a hard day, argued with their partner this morning or had a bad night’s sleep. I know it might seem hard for them, but I expect them to offer a service that is as good as it can always be, regardless of their mood.

I’ll contact the owner and see if he can be a little bit more even-tempered.

UPDATE: He responded and assured me that you will get your refund before Wednesday of this week.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Was I right to repay them?

Good day. I need some advise. I bought a car through a bank loan in 2013 which was then repossessed in 2016.

The bank sold the car and the new owner bought it at about 140 000 and the balance of the loan was 144 000 which I continued to pay until early this year. I have just been advised by a family member that once the car is repossessed and sold, I was not supposed to pay the remaining balance for the loan since the car was not in my possession.

Is this true? If so would I still claim my money back. My question was if goods are repossessed and sold does one still continue to pay even if the goods are not in their possession?


Unfortunately, your relative is wrong.

When you buy a vehicle (or anything else) through a bank loan and then you stop making your payments, the bank is entitled to do their best to recover the money they lent you. However, if they use either the loan agreement or a court order to repossess the vehicle that doesn’t mean the debt goes away. Your case is a good example of this. From the figures you mention, it seems that you still owed the bank P284,000 when the vehicle was repossessed although that might have included penalties, interest, debt collection, legal and court costs. The vehicle was then sold at auction for a mere P140,000, leaving a balance of P144,000 that you still owed to the bank. They’re entitled to get that back from you by whatever legal means they choose. If you look at your original loan agreement you’ll find it says they can do this and your signature on one page and your initials on every other page show that you agreed to this. It even proves that you “understood” the agreement, even if you didn’t!

However, I don’t think that lenders (and other companies) do enough to make it perfectly clear what will happen if you can’t afford to keep up the payments. I think they need to be a lot clearer.

I suggest that you explain to your relative that this is how borrowing works. I hope he or she isn’t spreading this misunderstanding too far! Trying to avoid our debts will only get us into even more trouble.

Must I pay if I break something?

I wanted to know, if a customer break an item on a shelve in a shop with no intent, but by mistake does the customer need to pay the shop for the broken item?


Yes, you need to pay. If they insist.

Think of it this way. Imagine I’m not a friend or relative, not someone you care about, I’m a total stranger. If I came to your house and accidentally damaged or destroyed something that was of value to you, what would you expect me to do? Wouldn’t you expect me to replace it for you, or at least make a contribution towards the cost? That’s what I would expect if the roles were reversed.

I don’t think it’s any different in a store. Remember that a store is just another private place, although one the public is invited to enter. If I enter the store owner’s premises and break something, don’t you think I should replace it?

Some might argue that the store has insurance that covers losses but don’t forget that the price of the item you broke will be way less than the “excess” amount the insurance company would require the store to pay before the insurance company pays out. Even if it didn’t, the store wouldn’t want to go through the hassle filling in forms, submitting claims and dealing with the inevitable delays. It’s much simpler for them to ask you to repay them for the amount they lost.

Meanwhile, if the item damaged was of little value, a pleasant store manager or owner might overlook it, particularly if it was just an accident. However, as we’ve all learned, not all store owners and managers are that pleasant.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Radio show notes (NBFIRA Policyholder Protection Rules) - 23rd July 2019

Source: Wikipedia
I was on DumaFM today with friends from NBFIRA talking about the new Policyholder Protection Rules relating to insurance products.

So what do these Policy Protection Rules say?

No background, no history, no lengthy (and boring) explanations of laws, regulations and small print, what actually matters to you and me?

Cooling-off period

A customer can now cancel an insurance policy within 30 days of receiving the policy. Not 30 days from agreeing to the deal but from when the policy actually arrives and they’ve had a chance to read and digest it. If they choose to cancel, they’re entitled to a refund of any premiums paid, minus any admin expenses the company has incurred.

However, this obviously doesn’t apply if the customer has made a claim in that period.

Penalties for termination, cancellation or withdrawal

If there are any penalties for cancelling or termination a policy, the company must disclose these when the policy is being sold. Not some time later when the consumer asks to cancel.

Importantly, this covers those policies that have an investment component and where the commissions and charges are “front-loaded”, being deducted in the early stages of the policy rather than throughout it. The people selling these products MUST explain that if the policy is terminated early then the customer might get little or nothing back in the early years.

Claims procedures

Companies must explain the claims procedures and how long they will take.

Complaints procedures

Companies must explain their complaints procedures, and also that NBFIRA can assist customers with problems.

Oral agreements

Anything said to a customer when the policy is being sold must then be put in writing within 30 days of the discussion.

Blank or incomplete forms

Policy holders must not be asked to sign blank or incomplete application forms.

Choice of insurance

(I like this one a lot.)

Anyone entering into a loan, credit or lease agreement that requires insurance MUST be allowed to use an existing insurance policy that they already have, if it’s suitable. So someone who already has a household insurance policy can use that to cover something they buy on credit or hire purchase. This is good because thee insurance policies most stores offer are incredibly expensive.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can I get my money back?

Last month I bought a ticket for my niece from Ethiopian Airlines to travel from Botswana to London in June and return in August. When she reached the airport she was told she doesn't have the necessary paperwork to allow her to travel and will have to travel at a later date. The next week when we wanted to rebook with all the paper work now we were told that we have to pay P2000 to rebook of which we were never told about from the beginning. We decided to cancel the whole trip and seek a refund and we were told the ticket was non-refundable. The value of the ticket was close to P8000.

Please do advice accordingly your help will be appreciated.


I don’t think I’m going to make you any happier.

International sounds glamorous but it’s much more likely to be a stressful experience, even when things go well. In this case the stress you niece experienced must have been overwhelming.

However, here’s the problem. There are various reasons why an airline might prevent someone from boarding the flight they’ve already paid for. Maybe their identity documents don’t exactly match the booking that was made? I know it seems petty but things like the spelling of your name, whether you include middle names and initials, ID and passport numbers all matter. If they’re not exactly the same as those given when the booking was made, then you might have problem.

Then there are the immigration requirements that various nations impose. Some demand that you can prove you have enough money to get by while you’re in their country. Others need proof of the address where you’ll be staying. Some demand a letter from the person or organisation hosting you. Many demand that you have a return ticket showing that you really mean to leave their country. Remember also that if you’re going on a journey which goes through a country in between your home and your final destination then the intervening country might also demand these things.

The other thing to remember is that if someone reaches their destination and is refused entry, it is often the airline that transported them that is forced to pay for the return flight. Airlines will then try and recover that cost from the passenger. That’s why they can be so strict at check-in.

The lesson is ALWAYS to check with the country you flying to, the countries through which you transit AND the airline what documents you need to provide. Then check again. Most countries have this material online but it’s also a good reason why an experienced travel agent can be very helpful.

Are these claims real?

Richard, what are your thoughts on this that I was sent. It’s from a local Facebook page.


My thoughts? They’re bad ones. My emotions? Anger, irritation, outrage and fear. I’m angered that people are advertising such dangerous nonsense that poses a real threat to health. Longrich agents have a long history of making illegal claims about the products they market but these claims are some of the worst I’ve seen.

Let’s face some simple facts. These magical, apparently magnetic panty liners are utter nonsense. There is no evidence that they can do anything that the advertisers claim. The only thing that can deal with a hormonal imbalance or an irregular ovulation cycle, that can unblock fallopian tubes, remove fibroids, reset “a displaced womb” and address infertility is medicine. Real medicine, not this illegal hogwash.

Yes, this IS illegal. Sections 396-399 of the Penal Code outlaw the “prohibited advertisements” that offer such treatments. They also breach various consumer protection laws by making false claims and they are also totally ignoring BOMRA, the Medicines Regulatory Authority who I’m sure will be outraged that such lies are being spread by Longrich distributors.

It’s also incredibly dangerous. Someone suffering these complaints urgently needs to consult a doctor rather than buy bogus products from the liars making these claims. If just one person fails to consult a doctor thinking that Longrich products can treat their disorders and suffers as a result, then these distributors have blood on their hands.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can they call us like this?

Hi Richard. I need advice. If someone is owing on a loan but are unemployed can the bank start calling the persons relatives asking about his or her whereabouts and asking them to get him to come see them?


First things first. If I owe a bank some money they’re entitled to make efforts to collect that money. They’re entitled to call me, email me, send me text messages and write me letters to remind me that I owe them money and encouraging me to pay my debt. If I stop communicating with them, as many people do, they’re entitled to try and find me.

Before I go on, everyone needs to understands that this does happen. Borrowers DO stop communicating with the companies that have lent them money. Many of them DO their best to avoid their obligations and their commitments. I have some sympathy for the lenders who are faced with this sort of situation.

However, there are some limits. New limits. Section 6 of the 2018 Consumer Protection Act, which is titled “Prohibition of certain conduct”, says that a supplier is not permitted to “use force, coercion, undue influence, pressure, duress, harassment, unfair tactics or any other similar conduct against the consumer, in connection with … the enforcement of an agreement”.

This doesn’t mean the bank can’t make those phone calls and send those emails. It doesn’t mean that they can’t call the debtor’s friends and relatives and politely ask if they know where he might be. It DOES mean that they can’t cross the line and become unpleasant. They can’t be bullies. They can’t embarrass the person they’re chasing or his friends, colleagues and relatives. They can’t be nasty.

If this happens to you, if you’re the person the bank is hassling, looking for the person who owes them money, you need to tell them very clearly that they may not pester you any longer and that if they call you again you’ll complain to their Managing Director and to Consumer Watchdog.

If you’re the person they’re chasing, then you need to stop hiding. You won’t escape their attention, they’ll never give up and the sooner you start speaking to them, the less you’ll owe.

Can I get my money back?

Hello Richard. How do you deal with someone who swindle your some money in the pretence of registering you companies of which she never delivered and kept coming for more money. Then you realise that the person never did the job instead they ate the money, you cancel and demand the money back and she says she will pay end June. Now end of June I demand my money back she blocks me. This woman is owing me P3000. There were no receipts when paying, but the conversation and recorded calls say it all.


There are certain industries that seem to have more than their fair share of crooks. The wedding industry is one, we hear of so many weddings ruined by amateur photographers, caterers and dressmakers. Second-hand car dealers as well, we all know about their reputation. The “consultants” who register companies for a fee, they also have a major proportion of crooks.

I think you need to get a message to this latest example somehow, making it very clear that your patience has worn out and now you need your money back. You should let them know that your next step will be to approach the Small Claims Court for an order against them. You should also tell them that you’ll be visiting CIPA, the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority, which registers companies, informing them that her company lies to its customers and pretends to register companies but in fact steals their money. You should also tell them that we’re on the case now as well.

I’ll get in touch with this person and see if I can apply a little pressure as well.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

International Breadwinners threaten to sue me!

Please advise, i have joined a networking marketing business called IBW (International breadwinners). It all began when they enticed us with certain incentives when you reach a certain stage. (Stage 5). So there is 200 hundred of us of which we contributed P1,250 each. They are now claiming that we have to contribute another P3800. But if you question their operation they remove you from their Whatsapp group. There is no compensation or refund whatsoever.

Kindly assist, how can I report them but they are claiming to sue me since they mention they have established lawyers.


International Breadwinners is not a multi-level or network marketing scheme. It’s a pyramid scheme.

In a WhatsApp conversation I had with someone trying to recruit me some months ago I was told that IBW is “A network marketing business where by u join with P100 and recruit 2 people and they will be registered under u. this 2 people they also recruit their 2 people. Is a business of 2x2. Everyone who joins must bring 2 people. Then u elevate as more people come on board and move stages.”


You note that they don’t mention any products? I then went on to ask several recruiters the same question. “We don’t need to sell any products, just recruit other people?” They all gave me very similar answers. One said “We don’t sell anything” and that “all we do is we recruit” people.


That recruiter also claimed to be a serving police officer which is worrying as he’s also now a criminal who can face a fine of up to P100,000 and five years imprisonment for promoting a pyramid scheme.


Your problem is a difficult one. If, as you say, two hundred people have joined, each contributing P1,250, someone somewhere has raised P250,000. Do you really think they want to give that back? The people who start pyramid schemes like IBW do it to make money and to do so at the expense of the people like you who were seduced by their claims of a money-making opportunity. That’s why they want you all to contribute another P3,800. Clearly they want to raise a million. And do you know what’s worse? They’ve made a criminal of you as well. Section 9 of the new Consumer Protection Act outlaws not just promoting pyramid schemes but even joining them.



The good news is that the regulators are more and more are interested in controlling these schemes and protecting consumers. I’ll let them know about your testimony.

And the legal threat? Tell them that they’re welcome to threaten me. I’d welcome a good laugh!

Can’t they get a refund?

Please advice me here. On the 26 June I bought 2 bus fare tickets for my friends who were travelling from China to Botswana, They were going to catch the bus on the 28th from OR Tambo to Gabz. Unfortunately their flight got delayed by 12 hours in Hong Kong. My complaint is the bus company is refusing to refund at least half of the bus fare ticket since my friends won’t be boarding with them anyway but to my surprise they have given away those 2 seats to other clients and have received payment for them also. Is that allowed?

Is it allowed? That depends on various things. Firstly, it depends on what it says in the Terms and Conditions of their tickets. Does it mention anything about situation like this?

While it must be frustrating for your friends you should also ask yourself this question. The bus company sold your friends their tickets in good faith but was it the bus company’s fault that the flight was delayed? Yes, they were lucky to find other customers who could take their seats but there was no guarantee of that.

This is a very good example of why travel insurance is such a valuable thing. Anyone who is planning to travel internationally buy a travel insurance policy alongside their ticket. Even better, if you buy your tickets with your Visa credit card your bank might even give you travel insurance for free. Make that call before you travel and it could save you a lot of money of something goes wrong.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my phone?

I think I am being scammed by a phone repair shop. Two months ago I began having WiFi connectivity issues on my otherwise fully functional and pristine iPhone 7. I went to a few repair shops to look at it and many did not know what the problem was until I found a repair shop in the Rail Park area.

I was told it was an antenna issue which could be fixed for P450, so I left my phone and returned the following day, but when I returned I was told it was not an antenna issue and instead it would cost P2,000 to replace the logic board. I asked for my phone back while I considered what they told me, but upon receiving my phone, it was not fully functional anymore and the camera was not working. I returned the phone to them thinking they did not re-assemble it correctly, instead they told me they needed to order a new camera part, and it was not just a matter of re-assembly. I left the phone with them to fix as I waited for the camera part and I was supposed to be called when it was ready. After several weeks went by I called asking about my phone, but I was told it still isn't ready.

To make matters worse, they are now claiming that the display is also not functioning and they need to order a new display too. Meaning on top of the previous damage to the camera they had caused, they have now also damaged the screen too according to them.

They won't give me my phone back, they won't let me go to another repair shop and my iPhone has now been held by them for 2 months with no sign I'll get it back anytime soon. Things are getting worse, they keep giving me different stories that don't add up, and recently they have been very elusive and have been ignoring my phone calls. I was supposed to pick my phone on Saturday but they have ignored my calls since Friday. Please may you advise me on how I can move forward with this issue. I have considered going to the police to report this scam, but I'm not really sure what my options are to solve this. I appreciate any advice you can give me.


Firstly, I’m not sure the Police can assist you, there’s no evidence at this stage that they’ve done anything criminal, it’s more a case of incompetence I suspect.

I think we’ll remind the manager of this store that Section 15 (1) (a) of Consumer Protection Regulations requires a supplier of goods or services like them to offer services “with reasonable care and skill”. We can’t expect miracles from someone repairing a phone but you can expect them not to break it and then refuse to give it back to you.

I’ll get in touch with the store and see what can be done.

Update: You’ll have your phone back tomorrow, repaired for free.

Why won’t they fix it?

In April 2019 we paid a company to install an aircon in one of our office. The job was done but we have since encountered challenges with the new air corn as it does not work. The company has since been called to come and address the issue to this day they have not shown up. when called is either they don't answer our calls or they make promises to come and fix the problem of which they never fulfil. Please assist.


I think you deserve exactly the same answer as the previous consumer. The phrase “with reasonable care and skill” does seem to be rather confusing for some service providers, don’t you think? Is it really that complicated?

I contacted the supplier and he told me that “I did install it and it's been working fine and they told me end of May it's not working fine. so we didn't have any guarantee or wats so ever. so it's not my fault that it doesn't work fine. it's a charge sir”

No, that’s NOT how things work. The Consumer Protection Regulations describe the "implied warranty of merchantability and fitness for use" that exists when something is sold. That exists to protect us all and it only disappears if the customer agrees to waive that right. You clearly did NOT so it’s still there.

Why do some suppliers try to make life so complicated?