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.