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.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is this a genuine job offer?

I received an email from Al Zawali Construction in the United Arab Emirates saying that my “qualifications and experiences which you submitted online matched the requirements for our on going employment”. I don’t remember submitting my details online so do you think this is genuine?

It’s a genuine scam, that’s for sure.

Here’s a simple truth. Employers don’t contact total strangers offering them jobs. The email you sent me contained a few clues that it wasn’t genuine. Firstly, the email didn’t include your name, it just said “Greetings”. if it was true that they saw your details online, don’t you think they would know your name? Then they ask you to send your CV. Surely, if this was genuine, they’d have seen it already?

Then there’s the language they use. “qualifications and experiences”? “for our on going employment”? Does that sound like a well-educated HR professional to you? It doesn’t to me.

There are other clues that you need some cyber-detective skills to notice. Their web site says that “Over thirty thousand(30,000) employees have worked at the company for over 10 years and nearly half of the 1000+ employees have worked at Al Zawali Contruction Company for more than five years” but their
domain,, was only registered on 2nd March 2019. And they can’t spell the name of their own company correctly!

There’s one final clue that you wouldn’t know about. Consumer Watchdog received exactly the same email a few days ago. We certainly didn’t post our profile online because Consumer Watchdog isn’t a person.

This is the beginning of an advance fee scam. Sooner or later they’ll demand money from you in order to obtain the fake job they say they’re offering. They’ll probably say it’s for a visa or legal fee and that’s what this scam is all about, that advance fee. Even if you pay them it won’t stop, they’ll keep demanding money until you either realize it’s a scam or you simply run out of cash. Please don’t waste your time and money.

Is Donations for Wealth real?

You’re not the first to ask us this. You won’t be the last.

Donations For Wealth describe themselves on their web site as "a 21st Century Donation system and Crowd Sharing Platform” and that “Now Here's A Sure Way To Get The JUMP On a Money Train & Start Making More Money Than You Ever Thought Possible!”

They claim that their business “brings forth a new way of raising funds for various causes, whether it is for personal needs or a host of worthy causes, such as Paying off Debts, Groceries, Holiday, Weadding, Buying a car, churches, schools, non-profit organizations, etc."


This is the language used by Ponzi schemes. You “donate” money into the scheme and somehow, perhaps magically, greater amounts of money come back to you. For instance they claim that you can “Turn R10 into R100,000“ without explaining how this might be possible. They then claim that recruits can “Turn R100 into R40,000” which is surprising as it’s less than the first offer for a bigger “donation”. Perhaps most impressively they suggest that you can “Turn R5 into 2 Million”.

Like other Ponzi schemes they don’t even attempt to explain how the money they claim you can make is generated. That’s because like with other such scams the only source of new money is from the people who join after you. That’s where they get the small amounts of money they might offer you in return for your “donations”. That’s how a Ponzi scheme works.

Like all Ponzi schemes Donations For Wealth will collapse. Their domain was only registered in February this year so they’ve had a couple of months to steal people’s money. I predict they’ll be gone with victim’s money in another few months. Please don’t be one of those victims!

Also, remember that Section 9 of the Consumer Protection Act outlaws Ponzi schemes as well as pyramid schemes. Do you want to run the risk of a fine of P100,000 or five years in prison even for just joining a scam like this one?

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is Global Dream Network legit?

I’ve been invited to seminars about Global Dream Network. Do you think it’s legit?

Many people have asked us the same question recently. They’ve either been invited to seminars (mostly at UB) or encouraged on Facebook to join WhatsApp groups about Global Dreams Network. They seem to be recruiting very hard within the University of Botswana and also BIUST in Palapye.

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.

Their own marketing material is very clear, that after joining for a fee of R350, and then recruiting a pyramid four levels deep, they claim you’ll have “potential earnings” of R38,800. However, just a few moments of mental arithmetic show that this is simply impossible.

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. That’s the definition of a pyramid scheme. No products, just recruitment of other people.

I did a little detective work and even though it operates in Rands, Global Dream Network does not appear to be a registered company in South Africa. Their domain was only registered on 21st January 2019 but their registration details have been withheld.

The bad news for anyone promoting or even joining a scheme like GDN is that the 2018 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!

P.S. I’ve also written to UB, suggesting they think more carefully about letting pyramid schemes like GDN exploit their facilities.

Must I pay them?

I bought a fridge and TV in May last year and I paid and paid on so from September and October I didn't manage to pay and November they came and took their property. They gave me a week for me to pay the instalment I didn’t manage for some other reasons then month end I went there to pay and collect my things to find that they sold them ok I just left it there. Now I want to get a loan from my bank and found that my name is in ITC. I went to their office and they told me to pay the P15000 first so they can remove me from ITC for what I don't know because they already sold the property. They are saying that to remove my name I should pay the amount otherwise they can't help me. Help sir what can I do?

Unfortunately, there’s very little you can do. Here’s the first thing you should know about hire purchase. The reason it’s called “hire” purchase is that you are hiring the goods before purchasing them. Until you pay the final instalment, the goods still belong to the store, not you. That means the store is entitled to repossess them without notice or a court order.

It gets worse. When you buy something on hire purchase and you stop paying your instalments the store is entitled to repossess the goods and then sell them and the money they get from that sale goes towards the amount you still owe the store. The problem is that the profit they get from the sale is tiny compared to the balance you still owe them. If you then fail to pay off the amount you still owe, the store is entitled to register your debt with a credit reference bureau like TransUnion. That will then make it very difficult for you to get a loan elsewhere.

And the reason they can do this? Because it’s true. You do still owe the store that money and it’s reasonable for other organisations to know that before they lend you money or offer you credit. The best thing you can do is ot contact the store and negotiate a repayment plan that you can afford.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Consumer Alert - Donations For Wealth

Consumer Alert
Donations for Wealth

Donations For Wealth describe themselves as:
"a 21st Century Donation system and Crowd Sharing Platform. It brings forth a new way of raising funds for various causes, whether it is for personal needs or a host of worthy causes, such as Paying off Debts, Groceries, Holiday, Weadding, Buying a car, churches, schools, non-profit organizations, etc."
They also say that they are the "No 1 World's best donation system" make some remarkable offers:
Turn R5 into 2 Million / Turn $ 0.40 into $150,000
Turn R10 into R100,000 / Turn $1 into $6920
Turn R100 into R40,000 / Turn $7 into $2700
Turn 500 into R135,000 / Turn $34 into $9160
Turn R500 into R20,000 / Turn $34 into $1358
Turn R50 into R5000 / Turn $3.40 into $340
Turn R200 into R4600  / Turn $14 into $312
Turn R500 into R21000  / Turn $34 into $1400
And then they claim that you can "Turn A once-off R10 to over R100,000".

Given that there are no products, that the only source of income seems to come from subsequent recruits, it's clear that Donations for Wealth is a Ponzi scheme. Or maybe a pyramid scheme. One of their Facebook posts was very simple about the business model:
"Lets work hard and Make money! Recruit Recruit Recruit!!"
The FAQ page on their web site (the domain for which was only registered on 12th February this year) includes the question "Can I sign people up myself?" and answers:
"Yes you can. In fact, you are encouraged to do that to make sure that the people you refer are placed under the correct Referrer, which is you."
One of their Facebook posts was very simple about the business model:
"Lets work hard and Make money! Recruit Recruit Recruit!!"
Whether it's a Ponzi scheme or a pyramid scheme doesn't really matter. Either way it's illegal.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Will Amway make you rich? No.

Amway's income disclosure statement for the United Kingdom for 2017 (which covers the period the period from September 2016 to August 2017) makes depressing reading for anyone considering joining Amway. It'll be even more depressing for those who've already joined.

During that period there were 36,874 "Retail Consultants" and "Certified Retail Consultants". However, only 33% of them actually earned any money.

The average monthly income for these "Retail Consultants" and "Certified Retail Consultants" was a mere £77, just over P1,000. Remember that this is income, not profit. It doesn't include the cost of getting that income, the airtime and data, transport, power and water bills. I suspect that to earn P1,000 you probably need spend roughly the same amount.

The 66 people who reached the level of "Business Consultant", those at the top of the Amway pyramid, made an average of just over £27,000, around P370,000. Again, that's income, not profit. That's fewer than one in 500 Amway business owners. For reference, average earnings in the UK were also about the same amount.

The simple and depressing truth is that you need to be one of a tiny minority of Amway business owners if you want to make any significant money. How likely is that?

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Consumer Alert - Global Dream Network

Global Dream Network describe their business model as:
"It's all about giving donation to another member and you shall receive donation in multiples"
They also say that the system is:
"a Person to Person, Direct Funding and Crowd Sharing Platform. It brings forth a new way of raising funds for various causes, whether it is for personal needs or a host of worthy causes, such as churches, schools, non-profit organizations, etc."
The truth is much simpler. It's a pyramid scheme. Their own imagery shows this.

Their web site and their distributors are very clear that there are no products, all recruits need to do is to recruit other people.

Global Dream Network does not appear to be a registered company in South Africa, despite seeming to operate using Rand. Their domain was only registered on 21st January 2019 but the registration details have been withheld.

Section 9 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2018 defines a pyramid scheme as a scheme “where participants in the scheme receive compensation derived primarily from their respective recruitment of other persons as participants”. It also says that “A person shall not directly or indirectly promote, or knowingly join, enter or participate, or cause any other person to promote, join, enter or participate in... a pyramid scheme”.

The penalty for promoting, even indirectly promoting or even just joining a pyramid scheme is “a fine not exceeding P100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to both.”

Global Dream Network is clearly a pyramid scheme and is therefore illegal in Botswana. Consumer Watchdog urges consumers not to waste their time, effort and money in such an illegal scheme.

Friday, 12 April 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my phone?

On January 3rd I took my phone to a repair shop to get the charging system fixed. They took my phone and gave me a receipt for the cost of repairing it. I was told to come back after 2 days. Upon going there, they still had not fixed it and said they would call when done. Indeed they called to say I should collect my phone it has been fixed. I get there and they hand me my phone and the glass back cover is shattered, they explained it was an accident.

Now I insert my sim card and the phone has no signal. I confront them about the issue and they start telling me about software issues and so forth, so they said they will take a look at it and will call when its sorted out. So I go and research on Google if its possible for it to be a software problem only to find out that if you put a part that isn’t the same type as the original the network won’t work. It only uses the specific coded parts. I then go and tell them what I had researched, to find out they also found that to be the issue. So they said they would have to order the part. After a month I return to check on my phone and they still haven’t got the correct part. On top of that the phone is now scratched and doesn’t power on anymore and permanently locked. They promised to fix all that and replace the cracked covers. A month later I returned again and still the same story and they admitted that they can no longer fix the Phone because its an original "high end" and doesn’t take counterfeit parts. Now I asked them what’s the way forward because I brought my phone in good working condition and now the phone is totally dead. They don’t have a response. What can I do?

What can you do? You can expect a new phone.

This so-called “repair shop” have mistreated you comprehensively and have also probably acted illegally by using counterfeit parts. I suggest that you contact the good people at the Consumer Protection Unit in the Ministry of Investment Trade and Industry and ask them to flex their muscles in the direction of this disreputable company. Suggest to them that this company has breached almost every one of the Consumer Protection Regulations, in particular those related to offering goods and services that are “of merchantable quality” and delivered “with reasonable care and skill”.

From what you say, it’s clear that this company shouldn’t be in the phone repairs business at all. They need to be in the ‘giving you a new phone’ business.

Can I get a refund?

Kindly assist on how I should go about my issue. I purchased a TV on the 20th of January this year, the TV gave me problems and I returned on the 23rd of March after I logged a case on the 16th of March.

They called me today 4th of April saying I have been credited and should come and choose another TV as they don't have a similar TV to replace my faulty one. From the TVs they have they don't have the same size of TV with the same price that I purchased the now faulty one. I opted to be refunded as they don't have a similar TV within the same price range. They are refusing refunding saying I should choose another one and the don't have one and also don't have money to top up for a similar size of TV.

When a store sells something that isn’t “of merchantable quality” we, as consumers, have a right to have that problem fixed and the solution must be one of the three R’s: a refund, a repair or a replacement. However, the current rules suggest that it’s up to the supplier to decide which of those they offer you. So the store is entitled to offer you a replacement TV of the same value to the one you bought.

However, in your case it’s more complicated. If they don’t have a TV that matches the price and functionality of the one you bought their options are simple. They can either offer you one that’s better than the original or they can refund you your money. Is that perhaps too complicated for them to understand?

We’ll get in touch with the store and see if we can explain it to them inn very simple language.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Have I been hacked?

I received an email saying that my account had been infected. It said that a hacker had exploited my email and had developed a virus that tracked pornographic web sites I visited and it says that they have videos of me watching pornography and of the sites it says I visited but this isn’t true, I haven’t visited those sites.

They say that I must send them $1,000 by Bitcoins and if I don’t they will send the videofile to all of my contacts including relatives and coworkers. What must I do?

What should you do? Absolutely nothing. I really mean that. Do nothing.

This is a scam, it’s not real. No hacker has infected your “account”, nobody has video recordings of you visiting pornographic web sites (the ones you didn’t actually visit), nobody is going to reveal anything to your relatives and co-workers because there’s nothing to reveal. This is just about extorting money from you. You can also be certain that if you did pay them the $1,000 they’re trying to blackmail from you, they would just continue to demand more and more from you until either you realised it was a scam or you ran out of money.

If it helps to reassure you, you should know that we also received exactly the same email as have many other people. These scammers rely on finding victims that have been viewing pornography online and have a guilty conscience about it. My advice is just to delete the email and do the same to any others like it that you might receive.

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

Have I won a tender?

I received an email below from a person who apparently works at PPADB.

This is my first time to receive such an email from "PPADB" with regards to tenders but I have a suspicion this email is not legitimate. The email doesn't seem to be genuine nor does the toll free number seem correct. There are 2 attachments and one of them has CONFIDENTIAL as a watermark.

Do you know of any other companies who have received emails claiming to be from PPADB?

Yes, I certainly DO know of other companies who have received emails like this apparently from PPADB. I’ve even received one myself.

This is another scam. The documents you were sent are certainly quite convincing until you look closely. Only then will you notice that the email address they give ends with “” whereas the real PPADB domain is “”. The bogus domain they’re using was only registered in June last year seemingly to someone in South Africa. It’s certainly not the real PPADB.

Based on the conversations I’ve had with people who have previously received emails like this, the way this scam will work is simple but clever. The documents they send give contact details for a supplies company in South Africa that they say will supply you with the goods they claim PPADB requires. But this fake company is part of the scam as well. Once you get in touch, they’ll do their best to seem like a legitimate company and will offer you the goods that PAPDB want but they’ll demand a deposit before they can ship them.

That’s what the scam is all about, that deposit you pay them. Rest assured that you will never see the goods or the deposit again.

This scam is so common that various government agencies, including PPADB has issued warnings to people stating that it’s a scam and that people who not respond to any tender requests until they’ve spoken to the procuring entity first to ensure that it’s genuine.

Please don’t be like the person I spoke to a few months ago who sent these scammers a deposit of P180,000, thinking they were going to get rich from a government tender. They’re now quite the opposite: poorer, sadder and deeply ashamed of their naivete.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my money?

I bought a second hand car in December 2018 from a certain garage in Mogoditshane and the car had a lot of faults which the owner had promised he will fix before I take the car. To my surprise he did nothing and the car almost killed me on my way to my home village.

I contacted him and he agreed that I should return the car and he will replace with another. I waited till end of January for a replacement to no avail. In mid February I told him now I need my money back. He gave me a cheque but the money in his account is not enough. He keeps postponing the days I need your help in making him pay.

You might not realise it but you’re actually quite lucky. Many second-hand car dealers would have washed their hands of this situation and told you that they weren’t going to help. At least this one has indicated that he’ll do the decent thing. That was probably because of the danger the car posed to you and the realisation that if you had been harmed his reputation and his business would have suffered.

The other good news is that you now have a very powerful case against him. Yes, he sold you a vehicle that wasn’t “of merchantable quality” as required by Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations but then he did something much, much worse. He gave you a dud cheque.

Section 23 of the National Clearance and Settlement Systems Act states that “Any person who knowingly draws or issues a cheque … against which there are no sufficient funds in his account at a financial institution on which the cheque or other payment instrument is drawn shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding P1500 or 3 months imprisonment or to both.”

Selling you a dodgy car will get him in trouble. The bounced cheque could get him jail time. I suggest you tell him this and see how quickly he responds. If he doesn’t then maybe we need to find someone with a uniform, handcuffs and the power of arrest?

Must I refund them?

I need your help, around January 30 2019 I saw an advert on face book from Trends Clothing. The account is in SA but they are saying they are based in the United States of America.

They were looking for agents from different countries, Botswana was amongst them, so I sent my CV they appointed me to be an agent for Botswana. They announced on Facebook that people can forward their orders to me, and people started placing orders and sent money to me so that I can deposit to Trends clothing account. About 20 people placed orders and gave me money. I deposited around $740 on different occasions. We were told that it takes 20 days for orders to arrive but up to now nothing has arrived. People are now mad at me.

Trends are now not responding to my emails and they blocked me on their page as well but the sad thing is that they are continuing to take money from people. I have also called agents from South Africa and Swaziland and they are experiencing the same. My worry is they are continuing to take money from people

In this case is it me who is supposed to refund them or Trends?

I contacted Trends Clothing in South Africa to ask them about your concerns and I was told by someone called Raylene that she had “forwarded the email to our legal and tracking department. They should be in contact with you within 2 business days”. At the time I wrote this, that was eleven days ago. Unless they’ve got in touch before you read this, it’s now more than two weeks, not two days. I think that tells us something about them, don’t you?

You are certainly not the only person who has been disappointed by Trends Clothing. I found lots of other complaints, many of them reporting experiences the same as yours. Money paid, no deliveries and then silence. The bad news is that unless you can persuade them to be patient or forgive you, the people who paid you for goods probably do deserve a refund from you, not Trends Clothing. It was you they paid, not the shady characters in South Africa. Meanwhile, I’ll keep up the pressure on the South Africans.

Friday, 22 March 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay?

Please assist me to understand this below.

I had a child in English medium school doing Standard 4 in 2018 and in December I wrote to the school to notify them that I will transfer my child in January 2019. I had paid all school fees for Standard 4 and in response they informed me that according to school policy is either I offer a term notice or pay one term school fees in lieu of notice. I had to transfer my child as soon as possible for personal reasons. My question is that normal to charge a notice penalty of the term fees even if my child had not started Standard 5 with the school? Please advise?

Unfortunately giving a term’s notice is completely normal practice with private schools. If you check the terms and conditions in the contract I assume you signed when you first enrolled your child at the school you’ll probably find a clause stating this. If you think about it, it’s not unreasonable. Your child was occupying a place that another child could have taken and unless the school has a waiting list for students it could easily take them a term or longer to find a replacement for your child. Think of it like the notice you must offer when you leave a rented property.

You could try to avoid this by not paying the notice period but there’s a real risk that the school will engage an attorney and chase you for the money. Do you really want to run the risk of a judgment against you?

It might be worth asking the school if they can’t be a little bit more flexible, but I wouldn’t be optimistic. They’ll be within their rights to insist that you honour the agreement you signed.

Is CBN a pyramid scheme?

It most certainly is, there’s no doubt about it and they’re actively seeking new recruits right now as you read this.

I saw one of their advertisements which said that with CBN “It’s simple to work with us”, and that recruits could get medical assistance, legal aid assistance, grocery vouchers, international trips and scholarships. The advertisements even state that the business is “recruitment only” and that there is “no selling products”.

I contacted one of the recruiters and she was very keen to tell me all about it.

She told me that “already there are people who have benefited from it” and that “it’s all about you putting an effort and moving”. I asked whether it was just about recruiting other people or selling products and she was honest. “Just recruiting my dear, no selling of products at all”. I asked her if that made CBN a pyramid scheme and she said “I would say that in a way, Yes it does. Network marketing is all about having more people under you so that you advance to higher stages.”

I then asked, “With CBN it’s just about building a pyramid?” She said “yes, with CBN its all about building a pyramid”.

At least she’s honest!

The bad news for the people promoting CBN and even those joining it is that the new Consumer Protection Act states very clearly that it’s illegal for anyone to promote or even to “knowingly join, enter or participate, or cause any other person to promote, join, enter or participate in… a pyramid scheme”. You might ask whether qualifies as a pyramid scheme under the new Act? It most certainly does. It defines a pyramid scheme as a business where “where participants in the scheme receive compensation derived primarily from their respective recruitment of other persons as participants”. Isn’t that exactly what CBN and its recruiters say?

You might also ask what the penalties might be. That’s the good part. The Act says that anyone convicted of promoting or joining a pyramid scheme “shall be liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding P100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to both.” I really like the idea of seeing some CBN recruiters being led away in handcuffs. I’d pay to see that, wouldn’t you?

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

World Ventures still won't make you any money

Despite claiming to offer "The Road to Fun, Freedom and Fulfilment", the truth is less positive.

The latest "Annual Income Disclosure Statement" from World Ventures makes very poor reading. "Very poor" is probably an appropriate phrase because that's what joining World Ventures is likely to make you.

The figures that refer to their US operation in 2016 show firstly that 79.95% of the people who've joined make nothing from World Ventures. NOTHING.

Of those that make something:
  • 76.5% of all the money earned goes to the top 5.4%.
  • 73.7% of the people earning money share just 10.2% of the income.
And average earnings? If you include just those people who make some money, the average earnings per year is a measly $355. If you include everyone in the scheme, it's a pitiful $30.

So, like all other pyramid and Multi-Level Marketing schemes, it's only the people at the top that make money and they only do so at the expense of the vast majority below them.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can she escape World Ventures?

I’m trying to help an elder who committed herself into some two ladies who said they are travel agents offering holiday packages. I was shocked to hear her side of the story that its almost a year now without hearing from them but they are taking a monthly direct debit order from her account of P300. She was traveling the other time so she tried to call and ask them if they can handle the flights and accommodation and travel expenses but they are nowhere to be found!!

The name of the travel agent website page is World Ventures.

We are kindly asking for help if we can stop the monthly transaction with the bank with this people?

This is very sad. Your elderly friend has fallen victim to a particularly heartless pyramid scheme.

World Ventures base their pyramid on supposed travel discounts but here’s a simple fact: discounts aren’t products. And anyway, there's no need to pay to join a discount when hotels give them away for free. You can get discounted hotel stays in South Africa but visiting, or these days just use Airbnb where you can find some remarkably cheap places to stay anywhere in the world.

It’s also not a way to make any money, despite the promises of people desperately trying to recruit other members. The latest income figures that I’ve seen that they published for the USA showed that two thirds (actually 68.7%) of all the income went to the 3.7% at the top. The median annual income was a mere $33 (around P330). And that was income, not profit.

I suggest your friend contacts her bank immediately and tells them that the deductions are not authorised and that no further payments should be made.

The battery is dead!

I bought a second hand laptop from a second hand shop in Gaborone. I mentioned to the shop owner that I don’t have electricity yet at my house so I will be charging it at work and use it at home when I knock off. He said his laptops are new from UK and batteries are ok so I dont have to worry.

He showed me the Dell laptop which was in good condition, he plugged in the battery and within a minute the laptop went off and he said he forgot to charge it, but he had demonstrated most of what I needed in a laptop. I asked the seller how long the battery last and he said 1 hour at first, and that wasn’t bad. I then asked him are u sure and he was like maybe 30 minutes. So I handed him 1500 which was charged and I even told him I’m not satisfied about the 30 minutes but hey. I charged the laptop that evening, took it home and it went on for only 2 minutes, 2 minutes! Can u imagine.

I called him the next day to explain and he denied ever saying that it lasts for 30 minutes. And I asked him, why would I take a laptop without a battery when I do not have electricity, the guy denied and said I should read at the back their terms and conditions, which I had done. It stated that incase I return their product they will charge me 25% handling fee, which i did not understand.

I feel robbed.

I agree. You deserve to feel robbed. A laptop battery that lasts for 2 minutes is worthless.

It doesn’t really matter whether a laptop (or anything else) is new or second-hand, it must be as it was described to you. As the Consumer Protection Regulations put it, it must be “as advertised or represented”. It must also be “of merchantable quality” which means “fit for the purposes for which commodities of that kind are usually purchased, as it is reasonable to expect in light of the relevant circumstances”. That last bit is important. “in light of the relevant circumstances” means that you can’t expect a second-hand laptop to have the battery life of a brand new one. But it should be usable. It must function reasonably well considering its age. It must also be “fit for any particular purpose made known by the consumer”. You explained that you needed a laptop with decent battery life because you don’t have electricity at home. He knew that from the beginning so there’s no excuse. Send me his contact details and we’ll explain this to him, in terms simple enough that even he can understand it.