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?

Monday, 24 June 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

They sold me a faulty phone!

I bought a phone on Friday and I charged it until it was fully charged, when I got home I downloaded playstore then created a gmail account and immediately the battery went from 100% to empty and it never went on again. I went back to the store on Saturday and explained to the manager everything that happened to the phone. At first the manager didn't want to assist but after a long talk he agreed to take the phone back to delete the playstore & gmail account, he promised to refund me my money if he finds the phone in the state I bought it, I agreed because I was 100% sure I didn't damage the phone in anyway, again he promised to call me as soon as he was done checking the phone but he never did. On Sunday I called him to make a follow up and he said they were still busy trying to delete the gmail account and he said he'll get back to, again he didn't. Monday I called him to check the progress and I was told the phone is ok but I only managed to go to the store on Wednesday. When I got there he told me to choose another phone and top up but I refused since it was not our initial agreement so I left. Today I went back, he told me to either choose another phone and top up or he charges me a 25% handling fee of which I did not agree with because it wasn't my fault that they sold me a faulty phone.

I then called the store owner and he asked to hear the other side from the manager, later on he called me back telling me the issue has been resolved and I should go back to the store to claim back my full amount that I bought the phone at. I arrived at the store and the manager refused to give me the money back in full, I called the store owner and he said he has already settled the and doesn't want to hear anything about it then he hung up on me. The manager called him and after the call he told me he is deducting 10% handling fee, still I refused because I didn't get why I have to be charged that handling fee though it was their product that was faulty, the phone failed me as soon as I tried to use it.


I think this is quite a simple situation. Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations requires suppliers to offer goods that are “of merchantable quality”, meaning that they should be “fit for the purposes for which commodities of that kind are usually purchased”. You bought a cellphone and it should behave as a cellphone. It’s not very complicated. In this situation you’re entitled to one of the three Rs: a refund, a repair or a replacement but it’s up to the store to decide which.

In your case the store promised you a refund and that’s what you deserve. No delays, no “handling fee”, no nonsense, just your money back. I suggest that you explain this to them and we’ll do the same. Let’s see if they can be reasonable. And obey the law.

Must I pay the extra?

I saw an advertisement in a newspaper for Project Management Short Course. I went to their offices and saw a lady who advised that I go make the payment for the course and then come and see her with the receipt. After making the payment of P3310 as stated on the newspaper I went back to her with the receipt which when she realised I paid P3310 she asked when I will be paying the remaining money. Shocked at her question I told her I have paid the money in total as seen on the advertisement. She requested to see the advert and I showed it to her. She insisted that I pay the remaining money or I get a refund. I told her I am paying for what was advertised and she advised that they made an error on the advert. She then took me to her co-worker who upon hearing my query gave me an attitude, stating that I should make the payment of the P490 balance or I won't attend the course. I stated that I cannot make the payment as to me it is not what I saw on the advertisement. I left their office telling them I am not paying anything extra that I didn't know about.


Section 13 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations states very clearly that a supplier fails “to meet minimum standards of performance“ if they sell a product not “as advertised or represented”. It’s not that complicated. The price shown in an advertisement or on a shelf is the price you pay.

The problem is that it might be difficult to persuade the company to sacrifice the P490 they neglected to include in the advertised price. But it’s worth a try. I suggest you make it clear to them that you know and understand your rights and expect them to respect them. I’m happy to get in touch with them and maybe the Consumer Protection Unit can add their support as well?

Saturday, 15 June 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

STOP PRESS. Before this article was published in The Voice, the Bank of Botswana banned Global Dream Network. A pat on the back to BOB!




Should I join Global Dream Network?

So many people have asked us about this scheme. Most of them have seen invitations on Facebook to join the scheme and are curious. Can they really offer the profits they claim?

The ads on Facebook suggest that after paying a joining fee of R350, and then recruiting four levels of people beneath you, you’ll have “potential earnings” of R38,800. However, just a few moments of thought show that this is simply impossible. Where does the money come from? How does R350 increase over one hundred times?

GDN say that their business is "all about giving donation to another member and you shall receive donation in multiples" and that it’s “a Person to Person, Direct Funding and Crowd Sharing Platform”. That’s exactly what we heard from a range of previous pyramid and Ponzi schemes, a mysterious scheme in which you donate money and magically, a lot more money comes your way. It’s not difficult to see that it’s an impossible, unsustainable business model.

The truth is very simple and some of the people recruiting will be honest about it. The new money, the extra cash they say you’ll earn comes from the other people they want you to recruit. It also comes from the extra money you have to add as you go through the various levels.

I joined one of their WhatsApp conversations and asked the recruiter “To make money do I need to sell any products or just recruit other people” and was told “You recruit 2 people and teach ur two people to do the same”. She then confirmed to me that there are no actual products being bought or sold.

Section 9 of the 2018 Consumer Protection Act says that a pyramid scheme is “where participants in the scheme receive compensation derived primarily from their respective recruitment of other persons as participants”. That’s exactly how the people recruiting for GDN describe the scheme. It’s the definition of a pyramid scheme. No products, just recruitment of other people.

The bad news for anyone promoting or even joining a scheme like GDN is that the Consumer Protection Act will punish them with a fine of up to P100,000 and up to five years in prison. I suggest you ignore any invitations from Global Dream Network and don’t waste your time, effort and money. You might also escape a huge fine and time in jail!

They broke my iPad!

I took my iPad to a local store to purchase a protective case. I was assisted by one lady, who took the iPad from me and went underneath one of the counters to fit a cover. She resurfaced after several minutes to tell me that my screen has cracked. She told me she was trying to fit it into the case, pressed hard and it cracked.

The owner claimed that the screen I have fitted was a fake, that’s why it cracked so easily. He said he will not replace my screen with an original unless I verify that the screen is indeed original. He asked that I go to an Apple Center, using my time, energy and resources to get a verification report and that would be the only way forward with him. He refused to come with me, he refused to allow the lady who broke the iPad to come with me. Let me state that this iPad has never had a screen replacement, this is the screen it came with.

I went back to the store and left the iPad there telling the lady that I do not want it anymore. The owner kept yelling, telling me that my iPad is fake and is from China and that he demands to see a receipt before moving any further.

Is this right? Should I prove with a receipt that the iPad is original in order to be assisted? I’m clueless to what I should do next. Where do I go? Who do I see? The owner of the store is unreasonable and I just want my iPad back. These events left me livid and upset.


I can easily understand how upset you are. I would be just as upset in your situation. This owner is being completely unreasonable and has broken almost all of the Consumer Protection Regulations. I think it’s best if we contact him and explain in very simple terms that he should stop making excuses, face up to his responsibilities and act like he cares. Or does he want to be famous?

Saturday, 8 June 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Do I really owe that much?

Hi Richard. Pls help me. About 6 years back I bought a laptop from Beares. When I got home I realised it had a crack on the screen that was there and I just thought it was a line inside only when I took it to be updated then was told it was a crack. I took it back and they took it to put new screen. I paid for few months and stopped bcos the laptop took too long to be returned. They told me I should continue paying but then I failed to do it. After several months the laptop came and when I went back to start paying I was told that the money was about P13 000. We argued and they agreed to correct it. I had a financial problem by then I didn't pay well then I negotiated for easy terms but they refused. One day I received a call from sheriffs that my debt now is P30 000 plus. I tried to talk to them but unfortunately Beares is no longer in Molepolole. Pls help me I wonder even if it's interest how can the amount double 4 times.


Unfortunately you’re another victim of hire purchase and the effect it has on people.

The first problem is the damage to the laptop. The fact that you didn’t report the damage to the store immediately will cause you a problem. How can you prove that the damage wasn’t caused by you after you took it home? It’s really important to inspect an item like this before you take it home so any damage caused while the store had it can be proved.

Then there was the second problem, a much worse one. You stopped paying your instalments. This is the most important lesson everyone should learn about hire purchase. You must never, regardless of the circumstances, stop paying your instalments. Even if the item you’re buying is damaged, stolen or away for repair, you must keep paying. I know it seems unreasonable and illogical but if you stop paying all of your rights under the hire purchase agreement disappear until you catch up again. The store can repossess the goods and apply penalties and interest to the amount you owe and eventually hand you over to a debt collector to recover the increasing amount you owe them.

I suggest that you contact their Head Office and see if you can negotiate a repayment plan that you can afford. It might also be worth asking for a complete breakdown of the amount you owe them because I’m not sure how a debt can have escalated as much as yours. A debt of over P30,000 for a laptop seems excessive to me. I can also contact them as well to get their feedback.

Can he sell my phone?

I have a problem with one of the phone repairs also selling the electronics. I took my Samsung j1 phone to them in Mahalapye mid January for screen refit. I went to his building to check on him on March but he wasn't around and April too still not around but yesterday I landed the business I found him I took my phone there but these man forced me to leave the phone the time I went to his workshop I asked him not to fix the phone before I come bringing myself with the money because um a student so yesterday I went to him my intention was to come and pick my phone and have it since I don't have the charged amount but the man was angry at me that I should set a deadline of coming to pick my phone cause he long waited for me and if I stay he will sell the phone to somebody else because this not the right way for having somebodies property for some month and he wasn't polite at all so what does these mean. Is there anyhow you can help me ..or send someone to help me or so?


I’m not sure I’m going to give you good news. He’s being unkind but I don’t think the store manager is wrong. You took your phone to him to be repaired and that was what he tried to do. It’s not his fault that you haven’t been able to pay him for the work he has done already. He’s also waited over four months for you to pick up the phone. I don’t imagine that’s cost him a lot of money but it has caused him some inconvenience.

Meanwhile, he IS being unkind by making threats about selling the phone. It still belongs to you and unless he has your agreement to do so he’s not entitled to sell your property. What I suggest is that you get in touch with him and ask him to be patient for a little longer. I’ll also contact him and see if he has a more reasonable side to his character. Let’s be hopeful!

Saturday, 1 June 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my laptop?

I need advice. My husband took our laptop to a certain man for fixing in December and now he is claiming that his friends or people he knows has it, He has said he will replace the laptop within 7 days which was the beginning of May and we are still waiting. There is no communication from him. Please help us. How best can we deal with this. We have his names from a copy of his ID but we do not know where he stays, Please advice.


I think this might be a matter for an organization with more power than us. I think this needs the services of our sisters and brothers in the blue uniforms. It needs the cops.

This “certain man” took your laptop for repair and for whatever reason he gave it to, or allowed it to be taken by some strangers, these “friends or people he knows”. Who they are and why they took your laptop doesn’t really matter, the simple fact is that this man took your property and gave it away to total strangers.

I suggest that you give this “certain man” an ultimatum. Tell him that he has fourteen days to either return your laptop, give you a replacement or give you the value of the device. Tell him that you will take legal action against him if he fails to do one of these things within the time you’ve allowed him. Make it clear that you’ve had enough of his excuses and that you demand a solution. Let him know that you mean business, that your patience is exhausted and that the time has come for him to fix this situation.

The other thing you should do is to send me his phone number. I think he and I need to have a conversation.

Should I take a refund?

I would like to seek guidance and assistance from your organization. I have placed an order with a shop named in Molapo crossing of which I was asked to pay deposit for my order to be processed after 2 weeks. After 2 weeks I call the shop I am told the following day until yesterday (which is 6 weeks after) I was given a different answer after I threatened the shop owner that am a consumer lawyer that's when am told that the material is finished to make the sleep wear and robe that I ordered. The unprofessionalism to communicate with clients by the shop is very appalling. I was hoping to support local but this lady seems to be a living off customers money. She gave me an option of a refund but I really wanted the products and am not sure she will return the money. Is there anyhow you can assist me? And please teach this shop customer service and consumer rights. I will be very grateful for your help.


I think you’ve been patient enough already. I think the time has come to walk away and learn the lesson that this company can’t be trusted to deliver the products they offer.

One of the most important lessons people in business need to learn is how to manage expectations. If you think it will take two weeks to deliver something then that should be true. It’s not complicated, it’s just about being open and honest with your customers. In fact, what’s even better is to exceed customer expectations and that’s actually quite an easy thing to do. It’s about telling “a good lie”. If you think it will take two weeks to deliver an item, tell your customer that it will take three weeks instead. That way, if you deliver it on time your customer will be delighted, thinking you’re the sort of person and company that beats deadlines. What’s more, if you run a little late you’ve already given yourself a breathing space and they’ll still be delighted that you were on time.

In your case your expectations have been totally mismanaged and I understand how frustrating that must be. My advice is simple. I think you should accept the offer of a refund but remind the store that Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations says that when a deal is cancelled a refund should be paid “promptly”. It doesn’t say exactly what “promptly” means but it certainly isn’t six weeks.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay?

Please help me. I bought a wardrobe last year and the agreement was to pay for 12 months. I settled my account in December last year paying P2400. I was told that was my clearance amount. In February this year I got a call from the store that the cashier made a mistake by putting the other customer's money in my account and I have to pay for that mistake. I told them I can't do that because it's not my mistake. They kept quiet and today I received an email that I owe them P1019 to be paid end of this month. What do I do? Please help.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to be much help to you.

Yes, I understand that the store made a mistake. Their employee credited someone else’s payment into your account and that was certainly a mistake but it doesn’t alter the fact that you are committed to paying off your debt to the store.

I know it must seem frustrating but when you buy something on hire purchase or any other finance scheme both sides have obligations. The store has an obligation to charge you the right amount and you have an obligation to pay the right amount. Of course, either side might occasionally make mistakes but that doesn’t change the fundamental facts. When one party makes a mistake it’s their job to confess and to fix the problem they caused. If the store had overcharged you, I’m sure you would want them to own up and fix it, wouldn’t you?

It’s irritating but you, like anyone who owed money to a store, were obliged to make sure that the payments were made correctly and if you settle the debt, that the settlement fee was correct and complete.

Here’s another thing. What about the other person, the one whose payment was mistakenly credited to your account? Do you really want them to be in debt as a result of the store’s mistake?

Where’s my money?

On the 28 April I had interest in buying couches on high purchase at a shop in Francistown and I paid P3000 as a deposit. After processing all the documents and being told that I am eligible as I meet the requirements. After a few days of waiting for the couches to be delivered I called back and I found out that the documents were not approved yet first they told me that they are approved. I went back to the shop and requested for a refund. I was told and assured that my refund is being processed after being requested to provide the relevant information for the refund process and was told that it will only take 5 working days. Until this date I’m still waiting for my refund. I went there and they told me that the person who is processing the refund he is South Africa and they can only communicate with that person through email and currently the person is not responding to the emails. Until today I’m still waiting for the refund and I have waited enough for this refund it has been 16 days now waiting for the refund. Please assist me in the matter above. Thank you!

This is completely unacceptable. You have done nothing wrong and it’s the store who should be doing their best to fix this situation.

Firstly, they got it wrong when they took your money having offered you a hire purchase agreement, only later to change their mind. They should never have told you that you met the requirements, that was their first mistake.

Their second mistake was to be useless and incompetent. They willingly took your money without, I assume, the help of their manager but now they’re meant to refund you that manager suddenly becomes an essential component of their finance processes? How is that your fault?

I suggest that you tell the store that they took your money in minutes and although you don’t expect a refund within minutes, you have a right to expect a refund within days, not weeks. Tell them that Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations states that when a deal is cancelled, as this one so clearly has, a supplier is required to restore any deposit paid “promptly”. Not when the manager is back from South Africa, not when they have cash, not when they feel like it. “Promptly” is what it says. Is it that too difficult for them to understand?

Saturday, 18 May 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can’t they remove my name?

I and my husband we got a fridge on credit and we failed to pay on time and they suddenly took it from us. So we applied for a loan and the bank told us that our names are on ITC cos of the fridge. We settled and got the fridge back home. Now it's been a month and 3 weeks and the ITC have not yet cleared our names.

It's devastating cos we paid with the money from cash loans so there is a lot of interest there and we are left with nothing. The store said they did their part so the ITC people in S.A. are the one who a dealing with that, deleting our name in the system. Last week they said we should wait for 7 days and they will delete but it's been more than 7 days. We want to take a loan from the bank to do my building project and they a just waiting for us. Someone told me you will definitely help me.

I don’t think you’re going to be pleased with what I have to say.

The issue of the store registering you with a credit reference bureau should fix itself once TransUnion (formerly ITC) update their files. This can take a little while and normally gets done within 30 days of the store telling them that a debt has been settled. The problem is that stores aren’t always as quick to do this as they should be.

However, there’s a more important issue here. I think you urgently need to think carefully about your financial situation. You had problems paying your hire purchase agreement and then got into even more trouble by borrowing from microlenders to pay off that debt. And now you want to borrow money from a bank to pay off that debt? I accept that borrowing from a bank is FAR better from borrowing from a microlender and also far better that borrowing on hire purchase but I think you’re in a downward spiral of debt. I suggest that you speak to a debt counsellor who can advise you on the steps you should take to stabilize your finances. One thing that I suspect they will say is that a “building project” is not nearly as important as paying off debt.

One final point. You really won’t like this one. I couldn’t help notice from your Facebook profile that you are actively recruiting people into a scheme called Global Dream Network? How is being part of an illegal pyramid scheme going to help your finances? It’s only going to make your situation much, much worse, particularly when you consider that the penalty for promoting or even just joining a pyramid scheme is now a fine of up to P100,000 and up to five years in prison.

How can I make her pay?

Hello. I am asking for an advice. 2 years back I entered into a verbal agreement with a friend of mine. I entered in an agreement with a furniture store on her behalf with the agreement that she will pay off. Last month the store called to tell me the account is in arrears and I am being blacklisted. Is there any action I can take against this friend, because now she is avoiding me. Please help.

I’m no attorney but you don’t need to be one to realise that you’re in a mess. The only written agreement in this situation is the hire purchase agreement YOU signed with the furniture store and that commits YOU to make the payments, regardless of who actually possesses the item that the store provided. The fact that your friend has the goods doesn’t matter to the store. You are the only person they care about. Ok, I mean your money.

There’s something else you should remember about buying things on hire purchase. Neither you nor your friend own them, they still belong to the store until the final instalment has been paid. Until that moment, the store is entitled to repossess them if you fall behind with the payments you committed to making. They’re also entitled to register you and your debt with credit reference bureaux.

Obviously, what you should have done is signed a written agreement with your friend that described the arrangement you made with her. That way you might have been able to force her to help you pay off the debt that YOU have towards the furniture store. However, given that she has already failed to pay your debt to the store, do you think she either has the money or cares very much?

Saturday, 11 May 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can I take the tyres back?

How can you help me. I came to a tyre place to buy BF Goodrich tyres and the sales guy convinced me to buy Cooper tyres as he said they are better tyres only for one tyre to be damaged by a thorn and now they don’t want to take their set of tyres back and give me BF Goodrich. They are saying they can only take them back for P1000 each but I bought then for P2500 each. Even their employees are confirming that Cooper is junk. What can you do to help?

Firstly, I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with Cooper tires, at least not in my experience. I’ve had at least one complete set and I believe they’re still in use on the vehicle I bought them for.

Secondly, I’m not sure you have a right to demand that the tyre dealer replace the set you bought. Is there any real evidence that it was a problem with the tyre that caused it to be damaged? Surely it was the thorn you say that damaged the tyre and that could just as easily have happened if you’d chosen any manufacturer?

Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations is clear that consumers are entitled to goods that are “of merchantable quality” and from what you say, these tyres were that. Remember also that Section 13 (1) (c) of the Regulations is clear that when goods are second-hand, they can’t be sold as new. If the dealer was to take back the tyres they sold you they’re going to lose out financially, which is why they’re asking P1,000 per tyre.

Given the circumstances, I suggest it’s best to stick with the tyres you bought.

Where’s their money?

Several people contacted us recently with very similar questions. They cancelled what they called an insurance policy and didn’t get their money back. Have they been robbed?

There are two issues here, depending on what type of policy they actually bought. The first relates to insurance policies. With an insurance policy, you pay a premium, usually monthly, and in return the insurance company takes on the risk associated with the event you’re insuring against happening. Whether it’s a policy covering your vehicle, your house, your health or your life, the insurance company will pay the costs (or most of them) if something bad happens. The commonest type of policy most of us have is a funeral plan. If, during the term of the policy, one of the people named in the policy dies, the policy will pay the costs of their funeral. However, if you cancel a funeral plan, you don’t get your money back. That’s because you were paying for a service that you received during the period of the policy, even if you didn’t claim. Yes, even if you didn’t claim, you still got “cover” against the risk.

Then there are investment products. They’re a way of saving money for the future and usually they’re for the long-term investor and that makes them a bit more complicated. Many long-term investment plans involve payment of commission to the company that offers the product or the agent that sold it to you. However, in a policy that can last for ten or twenty years the agent doesn’t want to wait all that time for their income so they “front load” their earnings at the beginning of the policy period. In other words you pay the commission up front in the first couple of years. You only start to earn money after that period is concluded.

The problem happens if you cancel the policy during that early period. Because the commission is taken in that period, you might not have actually earned any money yet. You might take home very little or perhaps nothing at all.

We’ve heard about this second situations many times and it seems that sometimes the people selling these policies either neglect to mention the front-loading of the commission or they deliberately hide it. Even if they do mention it they often do so using language that customers don’t understand and the result is simple. People don’t realise that if they cancel their policy in the first few years they get little or nothing from it.

Clearly it’s time for the people selling these policies to be a lot more open about how these policies work and in particular about things like front-loading.

Meanwhile, the lesson for us all is to read and thoroughly understand any insurance or investment policy we buy, before we sign them, not afterwards.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Do I have any rights?

About 2 months back I bought a second hand car from a car dealer in Mogoditshane. The guy said the car was a sold as is. I requested to test drive and had a mechanic look at it and it all looked good. After paying for the car I was made to sign a document that its a buy as it is and that I can't hold the company accountable for any mechanical defects that I may notice afterwards. The dealer had assured me the car was in good condition and that I only need to service and it will be ok.

A day or two after the transaction I realised the car was unstable when it reaches speeds above 80km/h. I went back to the dealer and he advised I fix the suspension of the car and it will be well. So I went and did just that unfortunately even after that the car still shakes and swerves when doing above 80km/h speed. There was no way of noticing this when test driving because speed limits in the city and surrounding areas is 60km/h.

Is there anyway u can help?


I’m sorry but I don’t think I can give you any good news.

The car dealer did everything he could to protect himself and I suspect there’s little you do to make him change his position. He allowed you to take it for a test drive and you noticed no problems during that drive. I understand that the speed limits would have restricted you to relatively slow speeds but it might have been wise to ask to take it somewhere you could test it at higher speeds. I was lucky a few years ago when a dealer selling me a car insisted that we go for a drive on a highway and also off-road to prove how well the car drove. That’s a lesson we should all perhaps learn. A 2-minute drive at 60 km/h isn’t enough.

The dealer also allowed you to do something we always advise consumers to do, to get an independent mechanic to inspect the vehicle. It’s a shame that your mechanic wasn’t able to spot the problems the vehicle obviously had.

Finally, and this is probably the really bad news. you signed a document saying that the vehicle was sold “as is” and also that you wouldn’t hold the company accountable for any faults that emerged later. The only document relating to the sale appears to be one that says you’re waiving your rights.

I’m sorry I don’t have better news.

Can I get a different one?

In 2017 in June I bought a JVC home theater system to be paid in installments for 24 months. After I got the products within a month it had a problem of reducing its volume every time when in use. I reported it to the stores around August 2017, then I returned it back which then they take about 7 months without giving me a new one but all the time I was paying.

In 2018 around March they gave me another JVC home theater which later then gave me the same problems and then in January 2019 I returned the products. Remember this is the second one. When returning the second one I wrote a cover letter which I explained that I don't want the products anymore rather they should give me the different item but same price. In April 2019 they called me to come and get another JVC home theater system. Then I refuse but the management told me that since I'm not working and my sister is the one who pays my instalments I'm unable to take a new item of same price from the shop since they will need a pay slip which I don't have to open a new account for another item. So they told me that the only option I have since I'm not working is to get another JVC home theater system again which I'm afraid it will repeat the same problem. So I please need help to change this item to another item with same price. The reason why I refuse the same item is that it's guarantee it's 3 years.


This is complicated. Let’s begin with your rights. When you are given a product that is “not of merchantable quality” as required by Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations you have a right to one of the ‘three Rs’, a refund, repair or replacement. However, and this is important, it’s the store that decides which you receive. This store is with its rights to replace the item with an identical one. I know it’s frustrating that they keep going wrong but look on the bright side, they offer a three-year guarantee so you’ll continue to get support until next year.