Saturday, 30 May 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why won’t they talk to me?

I really need your help. Around September 2019 I was offered a flat for sale, so I asked a law firm to do the whole conveyance and bond registration process and to this day they haven’t done anything to show progress and I apparently cannot get another firm until I get my file from the first firm. They are not giving me any reasonable explanation as to why a process that should have taken a month to complete now has over 7 months. Before the lockdown I asked them to return my files so that I could get another law firm, they had promised to give me the files before the lockdown but never came through.

Kindly assist me in any way possible. Any help will be welcome and thank you.

I have great respect for the legal profession. They perform an incredibly important role in any society. I’ve also been privileged to get to know some of them and a very select group have become very good friends. However, like any profession, you also get some crooks, shady characters and those that are just unreliable. Like these guys.

I know that any house purchase can take a long time. I’ve certainly been there myself. Something you suspect will take just a couple of weeks ends up taking months. However, you have a right to expect that any service provider, whether it’s an attorney, a bank, an insurance company or even a delivery company to keep you updated. In fact, the law now demands this. Section 14 (1) of the new Consumer Protection Act says that when “a supplier undertakes to perform any services for or on behalf of a consumer, the consumer has a right to … the timely performance and completion of those services”. It doesn’t say what ‘timely’ means because that might vary enormously, depending on what services you’re buying, but I think we all know when something ISN’T ‘timely’, don’t we? Seven months without an update is certainly NOT timely.

However, the law goes further. It also says that a consumer has a right to “timely notice of any unavoidable delay in the performance of the services”. In other words, if something is going to be delayed, they must tell you. Going silent on a customer is no longer acceptable.

I suggest that teach your attorney about the law. Yes, I know it’s meant to work the other way around, but clearly this attorney needs some tuition. You should also consider reporting them to the Law Society. That might add to their education.


We’ve all learned a lot of lessons from coronavirus and Covid-19 in the last few months. At least I hope we have. One particularly important lesson we all need to learn is the difference between science and pseudoscience, between real medicine and fake.

Unfortunately, there are several schemes currently doing their best to exploit the lack of understanding. For instance, distributors for Greenleaf told me that I “need” a very small range of their products if I have diabetes, cataracts, cardio-vascular disease, hypertension, various types of cancer, several sexually transmitted infections, leprosy and an enormous range of other disorders.

A distributor for AG Nutrition, who market a product called AG Cera, told me that it can “cleanse the body and improve immune system”. Others reported that it can heal cancer, diabetes, fibroids and asthma.

All of these claims are illegal. Making health claims about a product is forbidden by Sections 396-399 of Penal Code and by Section 83 of the Public Health Act.

It’s also incredibly dangerous. Most of us will be sceptical about non-specialists selling products they claim can treat or cure disorders that modern medicine has difficulty treating. However, some people WILL fall for their lies. People desperate to find a treatment for a disease they’re suffering or that someone they love is fighting might easily be persuaded by the dangerous and illegal claims made by charlatans.

Of course, these products are often just a cover story for a pyramid scheme. They’re often more about recruiting other people rather than selling their bogus products.

A presentation for AG Nutrition included the statement, “You don't have to sell in order to earn big money.”

The good news is that pyramid schemes are now illegal in Botswana and promoting them or even just joining can lead to a fine of up to P100,000, five years in prison or both. Is that a risk you’re prepared to take? Is it a risk that you want the people you care about to take? Please help spread the word!

Saturday, 23 May 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must they repair it?

I need your help, I bought a gearbox from a certain company in Mogoditzhane end of January, took it and looked for mechanic to fit it for me and we found its leaking. I went back to the them and they said they will repair it since they are imported as second hand. They said it was fine, but after fitting again it was still leaking. They said they will repair it again and still it was leaking and I went back to them and they kept on saying they will call me back until there was lockdown.

I will appreciate your help.

I have good news for you. And some bad news. Let’s start with the bad news. People like this mechanic are the bad news. They are very good at telling stories and making up excuses for why they fail to offer you a decent service. People like him rely on the rest of us giving up after we become too frustrated.

The good news is that the law is on your side. The new Consumer Protection Act gives consumers a number of very powerful new protections One of them is your new best friend.

One thing that the Act says is that the goods we buy must be of good quality. It says that “A consumer has the right to receive goods which are of good quality, in good working order and free of defects, unless the opposite is clearly disclosed.” In your case, if the mechanic had told you that the gearbox he supplied was imperfect or likely not to work then he’d be in the clear. But he didn’t, did he?

However, not everything works perfectly, not even brand new items and Section 16 of the Act says when something goes wrong within six months of it being delivered, the consumer may return them for repair, replacement or a refund but it's up to the supplier to decide which of those to offer. That’s actually nothing new, the old Act gave us that protection. The new protection, the bit that will please you (and NOT please your mechanic) is that the law now says that if "within three months the same problem recurs" the supplier must offer either a replacement or refund. There's no second chance to offer a repair in that three months.

I suggest that you tell your mechanic this and see if he’s prepared to obey the law or maybe he’d prefer the Competition and Consumer Authority to force him to do so?


Just because we’re all under lockdown, that doesn’t mean that scammers are as well. In fact, they’re still VERY busy, doing their best to steal our money. None of the techniques are new, we’ve probably all seen these things before but even if you and I have seen these scams before, that doesn’t mean our friends, family members and neighbours have. By the way, it’s not just “unsophisticated” people like you and me that fall for scams, some of the people we hear from are highly educated, smart professionals.

Several people have asked us if the emails they’ve received saying that their mailbox is full, or their mail account has been disabled, or their “account needs to be upgraded” are true. It’s simple. They’re not. These emails always include a link the recipient is asked to click on to fix the problem. That link will open a page that will look a bit like your webmail sign-on screen but in fact is a fake. If you look closely at the URL, the web site you’re visiting will have no connection to your mail provider. What the scammers want is for you to enter your email address and password. Within moments of entering your details they’ll have changed your password and will be stealing your identity and sending more scam emails from your address. Please don’t fall for it!

Unfortunately, coronavirus hasn’t killed off pyramid schemes. Two in particular are busy right now, desperately trying to recruit new victims. Crowd1 has already been outlawed in Namibia and the authorities in the Philippines, Norway and Paraguay have taken action as well, warning their people to avoid it.

Another, calling itself “Money In Crew” is identical, focussed only on recruiting other victims.

The good news is that pyramid schemes are now illegal in Botswana and promoting them or even just joining can lead to a fine of up to P100,000, five years in prison or both. Is that a risk you’re prepared to take? Is it a risk that you want the people you care about to take? Please help spread the word!

Saturday, 16 May 2020

The Voice - Consumers Voice

Where’s my money?

Please I need your help. I and my fiance have been saving some money in his little sister's account, who is an ex-UB student. The account she was using was a student account. It happened the card expired on the way, and they blocked her cellphone banking which she was not aware that they intentionally blocked it. She thought it might some technical errors. On the other side us we were able to pay the money in the account without any difficulties. Last year November she visited the bank to renew the card that's when they told her that they have blocked the cell phone banking because she is no longer a student. They asked her to change from student card to either a current or saving, when she tried to cash the money over the counter they told her that she can not cash the money since they are still investigating the source of the money. Until today they are still investigating the source of the money. She tried to explain to them that they investigate us since we were depositing using pay to cell. Please help me to get our money back.

Before we start trying to solve this problem I have a few basic questions. Firstly, why were you saving money in someone else’s bank account? You realise that, as far as the bank is concerned, that money now belongs to your fiancé’s sister, not you, don’t you? Her bank account, her money. Were you perhaps saving it there to avoid bank charges? Were you exploiting the cheaper student account rather than using a more expensive account you might have? If so, the bank is likely to be unsympathetic to both you and the sister. Student accounts are meant solely for students, not for their relatives or friends. They’re not even meant for students once they’ve graduated.

You also probably bypassed the bank’s KYC rules, which is why the bank now wants to investigate the source of the money you deposited. Banks don’t force customers to go through the incredibly irritating ‘Know Your Customer’ processes because they want to, they do it because they are required to do by various regulators. I suggest that you write the bank a letter explaining where the money came from, showing them payslips if you have them or other proof of income if you don’t. Maybe you should think about opening your own savings account as well?

Where’s my filing?

I received a text from CIPA that I must pay my annual return by the 10th of this month and if I don’t pay they will deregister the company. I paid money to the guy who does consultant services. He is the guy who helped me with bank account opening. I paid the money on the 7th and the guy promised to send me the receipt but ever since I paid he doesn't take my calls nor reply my messages. Sometimes if he takes my calls he pretends as if its network problems. My biggest worry is that CIPA might deregister my company.

So now am stranded. I don’t know what to do.

I think the first thing you should do is call CIPA. They’re reasonable people who will understand that you’ve being messed around by a shady character. They’ll probably welcome knowing that a guy like this one isn’t the sort of person they want filing for companies on behalf of honest people like you.

At the same time you should contact the guy and tell him that he no longer has your permission to do anything on your behalf. Tell him that he has failed to deliver the services you hired him to do and you demand a full refund for everything you paid him. In your position I’d give him seven days to refund you.

Finally, you realise that these days it’s easy to file these returns yourself? CIPA offer lots of guidance on their web site about how to do it yourself and it’s even cheaper to do it online that to do it by visiting CIPA’s office. It’s also easy these days to open a bank account, particularly a personal account. There are even banks that allow you to open a bank account entirely from your cellphone, you don’t even need to visit a branch to do it.

Opening a business account is slightly harder but if you have all the right paperwork it shouldn’t take you long. I suspect you’ll find it a lot easier to do this yourself rather than hiring someone as unreliable as this guy who just takes your money and then disappears. I’ll contact him as well and try to persuade him to do the decent thing.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

They want my ID!

I am kindly contacting you seeking help concerning emails that I have been receiving from someone, who claims that they are oversees and are willing to help me claim inheritance of a family relative in the USA. They want me to send a scanned copy of my identity card.

I think you probably know already that this is a scam, don’t you? I hope you do.

We’ve perhaps all heard stories of long-lost relatives dying and leaving their fortunes to their distant family members, family members who have never actually heard of them. But they’re just stories, the sort of thing we see in movies and read in romantic novels. They don’t happen in real life.

This is the beginning of an advance fee scam, there’s no doubt about it, I’ve seen many just like before. While the first contact says that you will benefit from your fake relative’s fake inheritance sooner or later they’ll demand money from you in order to get this fake money. Sometimes they’ll tell you that it’s attorney’s fees, other times a tax or duty to pay, sometimes an account opening fee. I predict it would have been P3-5,000, it’s always about that amount. Once you pay that, they keep inventing more and more payments you need to make until you get your inheritance. An inheritance, you should remember, that doesn’t exist.

They’ll continue to demand money from you until either you realise you’re being scammed or until you have no money left. Unfortunately, I’ve heard from too many people who given these scammers almost everything they’ve got. I really hope you won’t be another case like this.

The best thing you can do is delete all the emails you’ve received from these scammers and any further emails they send you. If you feel like being adventurous you can send them an incredibly rude email telling them what you think of them. Remember that scammers don’t deserve courtesy!

Where’s my furniture?

Last year I saw an advert for furniture on Facebook and I paid P600 for laybye of a double bed, head board and 2 sides, then on the 23 February I communicated with her that I will be coming to their offices to pay the balance and collect the furniture.

I hired transport to collect the furniture, when I got there I asked the guard even workers did not knew the name of the company I tried calling the lady but her phone was not going through. I tried the other number on the receipt but the guy said he works for the company but at Tswapong so he is not familiar with the one at Gaborone. I went back without the furniture that day. Thats when the lady communicated saying her phone battery died. I told her to bring my deposit or deliver the furniture at Lobatse because that is where I was taking the furniture to for free as their way of compensating me.

She agreed and she said their trucks will be leaving to South Africa they will pass bye to drop my furniture. I sent the balance P1356 and she even gave me the number for the driver to confirm if they are coming. Unfortunately that never happened. She started telling stories and I told her they should sort it out at their company.

During the week she called to say she managed to get a truck to deliver my furniture. I went to Lobatse to await it but again she disappointed me. The following day I went again to where she had directed me, she was not there. The guys at the warehouse said she doesn't have a supervisor to report her to is her own boss. Up to date she has not called so I’m kindly asking for your help.

The lady is telling that the only way I'll get the furniture is to pay P200 more on top of all the expenses I incurred for other wise I’m still going to wait. I asked her to send back my money she is refusing.

I contacted the company and their first response was “Yes she bought furniture from us. When we open after lockdown her things will be delivered” but then they changed their mind and became argumentative, suggesting that it was your fault that the furniture wasn’t delivered. So yes, I agree that it’s time for a refund. I suggest that you tell them that Sections 7(6) and 27(1) of the Consumer Protection Act both say very clearly that you are entitled to cancel the deal and get your money back. If they don’t agree to that and repay you then we need to escalate the issue further. We won’t give up!

Saturday, 2 May 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must they fix my damaged suite?

I have an issue with Lewis Rail Park. On January 21 I bought in cash a 3/4 and single beds for my kids. We paid and were promised to get the beds the same day and were later told it will be the next day.

One bed came with no wheel attachment and we dismissed it as minor. If was only today, due to the lockdown that we move the beds for the 1st time to put them on top of the other we notice that the beds are very poor quality and the mattress is not the changeable one. The top and bottom are not the same unlike we indicated when buying. The guys who delivered set up for us and we never paid attention. I checked the receipts and there is damaged written on the receipts and it was never mentioned. We are to blame for not paying attention but this is printed out. We wouldn’t pay 2.7 for a bed that is damaged when we could buy a good quality one at that price.

On the receipts. they have no contacts or name of the manager. I feel so cheated and keep blaming us but then who valued the beds to be worth 2700 each? How do I get my case to be heard?

All I want is beds worth 2.7 each.

There are several important lessons to be learned from this experience. Perhaps the first, and most important thing is never to sign anything you haven’t read. I suspect that when they delivered the beds, the delivery guys asked you to sign a delivery note. If you’d looked closely you would have seen the note saying that the goods were damaged and that would have given you an opportunity to reject them. However, all is not lost. I think you still have the right to tell the store that you didn’t choose to buy damaged goods, you had a right to expect goods in perfect condition. You should tell the store this in very simple terms. Section 15 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that a consumer has “the right to receive goods which are of good quality, in good working order and free of defects”. You should tell them that.

You should also make it clear to the store that they failed to make it very clear that the goods were damaged. Section 24 of the Act says “A supplier shall ensure that every term and condition in a contract is brought to the attention of the consumer, especially terms or conditions that … limit the liability of the supplier”. They were required to bring the fact that they were damaged to your attention, not hide it from you.

I contacted Lewis Head Office some weeks ago but I still haven’t heard back from them. I think we both need to be a little bit more assertive with them. We’re not giving up!

Must they fix my suite?

I have a matter I’d love to share with you. I bought a 3-piece lounge suite from a furniture store in Molepolole in 2017.The total purchase price was P20,654.15 on hire purchase. Now the suite is cracking and the coat eroding, even the one i don’t sit on. I stay alone. And even the piece I don’t use at all is peeling. It looks like cheap material. My efforts to call them are in vain.

How may I approach this matter? I feel robbed to be honest.

Here’s another lesson we all need to learn. Firstly, as I’ve mentioned many times before, hire purchase is a very expensive and high-risk way to buy things. You spent over P20,000 on a lounge suite. I guess that the cash price was probably half of that. Add in the profit margin that the store is entitled to make and you probably have an item that cost them just a couple of thousand to make. The lesson is that not only is it an expensive way to buy things, it’s also a very expensive way to buy very cheap things. Cheap things that don’t last very long.

That’s another lesson. How long these things last. It’s no surprise that goods you buy on hire purchase over two years only have a warranty lasting one year. That’s because the store doesn’t expect them to last more than a year because they know how cheaply they were made.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s anything you can do. The goods are now far out of their warranty and the store no longer has any obligation to fix them. I’m sorry, it’s a painful lesson.

Saturday, 25 April 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Won’t they pay?

Please help me. I have insured my car and had an accident in Block 10 on the 13th of March. Now I just received an email that they cant help me because I was above speed limit. I was driving at 70. The police they said reckless driving. It was on a curve so someone was in my line with bright lights and I tried to move aside by the road then hit the drain. Is this really fair???

Firstly, I’m glad you had an insurance policy because it’s the smart thing to do. Even a basic vehicle insurance policy will cover you against potentially huge costs. I don’t mean the cost of any damage caused to YOUR vehicle by accident or collision, I mean the costs of damaging someone else’s vehicle. A few years ago we heard of a driver who caused a collision but who had no insurance. His car was destroyed but he also destroyed another driver’s brand new P750,000 Mercedes. Luckily for the other driver, he had an insurance policy so within a few weeks his insurance policy had paid for a replacement Mercedes. He was happy again. Unfortunately, the uninsured driver then received a demand from the victim’s insurance company demanding that he pay them back the three quarters of a million they’d paid out. Was this right, he asked? Yes, we told him, that what happens when you cause an accident and don’t have an insurance policy. You pay the bill.

In your case I think this all depends on what the text of the insurance policy says. Most insurance policies automatically reject claims if, for instance, the driver was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident. It looks like your policy says that claims are rejected if you weren’t obeying the traffic laws at the time of the incident. If you were charged by the Police they might consider that sufficient proof of this.

I’ll contact the insurance company for you and ask them to double check the small print and make sure they’ve taken the right decision.

Please help my sister!

My sister needs help. Sometime in 2009 she applied for a loan from her bank and cleared it in 2013/14. A month ago she applied for a facility to consolidate through another bank and was informed that she had been listed with CRB. Upon inquiring from the first bank, they told her that their records do not show that she cleared that loan. The say back in 2013/14 the loan balance was around 28k, and now it's at 43k

Unfortunately for her, it's been almost 7 years and she can't find her records so she is really at the mercy of the bank. They keep giving her stories that they suspect that the money was deposited into another account.

They are actually saying that they will give her a discount to pay the 43k. But why should she have to pay a loan twice when it is clearly their wrongdoing?

She says the bank never contacted her and she had never changed numbers since she started using it in 2008. They can't explain why there was never any communication from them.

Kindly advise what she can do.

The difficulty here is that it’s the responsibility of both parties to a loan, the borrower and the lender, to make sure that the loan is repaid fully and is settled finally. Very often we assume that the lender, in this case the bank, will get everything right and will keep full and accurate records. The bad news is that banks aren’t always as reliable as we need them to be. Like us, they’re flawed and lose things. It’s why it’s very important to keep bank statements, whether they’re printed or emailed somewhere safe.

I contacted the bank and asked them to take another look and see if they can trace any payments your sister made.

UPDATE: The bank assured me that they would investigate the matter urgently. I then heard from the customer that the bank managed to help her sister and they’ve cleared her name with CRB and emailed her a clearance letter.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can’t they refund me?

Good day Richard. Please help I sent my brother to a pharmacy in Mochudi to buy blackseed oil and he bought the wrong one. He bought the one for the hair but I wanted the consumable one now they are refusing to return it. I called the assistant who is taking the call and she is so rude. She refused to tell me her name and hanged the phone. I tried calling several times but she is cutting my call. Their boss also refused to take my call they are saying he is busy.

The lady later called saying the boss said they can’t give me cash back rather I take something in the shop. I told them that was the last money I had and I have to buy blackseed oil because I am using it for my sinus infection. I don’t have another money to buy blackseed oil again. I thought I didn’t open it they could refund me since there is nothing I can swap with.

Unfortunately, this is a painful lesson about consumer rights. Consumers don’t have a right to change their minds if they buy the wrong thing. We don’t have a right to take something back if we don’t like it. Most importantly for you, we don’t have a right to return something if we bought it by mistake. The only times we can demand that a store fixes a situation is when they mis-sold something or if it doesn’t work properly. Section 15 (1) of the 2018 Consumer Protection Act says that “A consumer has the right to receive goods which are of good quality, in good working order and free of defects”.

However, in your case the store hasn’t actually done anything wrong. I know it seems difficult, but from what you say, it wasn’t the pharmacy’s fault that your brother chose the wrong product. Of course, a store owned or operated by kinder people would probably be more helpful. As you said, you didn’t open the packet so there’s no good reason why the pharmacy can’t just put it back on the shelf. Unfortunately, not all store owners and managers are as pleasant as we’d like them to be.

Here’s one other minor issue. There is actually no reliable scientific evidence that black seed oil has any real medicinal benefits. Once the lockdown is over it might be worth talking to a doctor if you have persistent sinus problems.

If you send me the contact details for the pharmacy I’d be happy to get in touch and see if they can’t be a bit more charitable.

How can I make him pay?

I need your help regarding someone who has been toying with my emotions while they owe me since last year February. I gave him money to buy me a car from Durban. At first he brought me a rundown Vitz and I didn't accept it upon viewing it. He then took his time until around December (this was supposed to take 3 weeks at most) when he brought me another rundown car that I only used for 2 days and returned it back to him upon which I told him to refund me because I didn't want to deal with him anymore. He had asked for 26k for him to buy me the car. But I had to report him to police at that point because he just took his time to refund me, excuse after excuse. Then when the police called him and he paid 19k and promised to pay the balance within a week but he is now left with P2,500 to pay he keeps saying he will pay. He had promised to pay last Friday but he just does not respond to my calls or messages. He is ignoring me basically but he has the nerve to tell me its nothing but still he is not paying it. Can you please assist me because I don't want him near me any more. I thought of blasting him on the Consumer watchdog page but I know you don't usually encourage that so I kindly seek your intervention here.

I think the key thing here is that you already involved the police. I would go back to them and see if they can’t make another phone call or two and apply some pressure to this guy. However, there are limits to what they can do. They might easily argue that this is a civil matter between two people and that no crime has been committed. You can argue that he obtained “by false pretence” but, to be fair, the Police probably have other things on their agenda right now that they’ll consider more important.

I’ll be happy to get in touch with the guy and see if the knowledge that readers of The Voice are interested in the way he does business motivates him to do a little better.

Monday, 13 April 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why can’t they help me?

There is a petrol/fuel station in Serowe that issues receipts/ till slips with a Lobatse address. When I asked for a hand written receipt to present to my employer the stamp they put on it still showed a Lobatse address.

When I queried they told me no one has ever complained about the address. They also said my employer could always call like others do to confirm that I fuelled in Serowe, not Lobatse as per their receipt. I feel this is an inconvenience as calling them would cost time and money. They felt I was being unnecessarily difficult. What's your view on this matter?

I can see that there might be good reasons why the receipts give an address in a different town. It’s likely that the company that owns the filling station in Serowe is based in Lobatse. However, clearly they don’t understand, or don’t care about the impact this has on that minority of customers, like you, who need receipts for claiming expenses from their employers.

Normally I would suggest that we try to persuade the owners of the filling station to consider their corporate customers and find a solution to this that doesn’t inconvenience them so much. However, from what you say, that’s not something they seem to care about.

The better solution is to find another filling station in Serowe, one that is a little friendlier. They deserve your money more than these guys.

Who must pay?

I am in need of your advice.

On the 18th of March I received a phone call from a debt collector that they have been engaged by my college for collection of my outstanding debt.

Please note that I made a transfer of the outstanding P6,000 to the college on the 3rd of March and as per the email the gentleman who called me from the debt collector he says the college handed me over on the 4th of March. This is the same thing that the gentleman at the college told me and I questioned him and he did they tell me that they are handing me to debt collectors and he said to no however they will rectify that and to that they handed me my clearance letter and I collected my certificate.

I sent an email to ask now who is going to cover the debt collector's fees and to date there is no response. Now I am getting constant phone calls from the debt collector to pay the P1,300 else it is accumulating interest monthly. Please advice on way forward on this matter.

It’s normal practice for companies to pass on the costs of collecting debts to the people who owe them money and that can sometimes be a lot of money. Firstly, that’s just a fair thing. It’s not the fault of the company that you owe them money or have failed to keep to your side of an agreement. They’re entitled to get their money from you. It’s also what you agreed when you signed your contract with them. If you look closely, you’ll find that the contact has a clause saying that if you fall behind with your payments they’re entitled to take whatever legal action they see fit to recover the money they’re owed. That will include engaging debt collectors, of if that fails, instructing attorneys to come after you.

However, in your case, things might be different. You paid your debt before they engaged the debt collectors that are chasing you. Furthermore, they admitted they’d made a mistake and promised to rectify the situation. It’ now up to them to honour their promise and sort this situation out for you.

I suggest that you first contact the college and tell them that you hold them responsible for fixing this situation. Tell them that you will telling the debt collectors the same thing. Then you should contact the debt collectors and tell them that you have disputed the debt collection charges with the college and that you are holding them responsible for the problem. Insist that they record in their files.

I’ll also get in touch with the college and see if I can encourage them to help fix this situation.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my laptop?

On the 29th of January I bought a laptop from some guys for P1,500. They told me that it needs a few software updates and promised that it will be okay after I update them. I took it with me and tried to update the software but it failed even after a lot of attempts. I returned back to them and we agreed that they'll take it, update it and return it. As I speak it's been more than a month now, they are playing hide and seek with me, refusing to give me a different laptop or to refund me if at all they don't have a laptop that is functioning well. The beginning of this week they told that they have a different laptop but I have to top up with P500 to get it. I found the money and they're refusing to meet with me reasons being they are busy and they don't know when they'll give me the laptop. On the issue of refund they don't want to tap on it, they avoid it by all means. So please I need your help. I really need that laptop to type and submit my assignments since that's the only option that we have right now. I'm afraid to go out to internet cafés, mingling with people yet we have been told to stay home.

I think these people are behaving very badly. You, on the other hand are behaving responsibly but the time has come to become impatient and angry. You’ve already paid them more than the original agreed price for a laptop that works. They’ve already delivered one to you that didn’t. I suspect that this business about software updates is a distraction to cover up the fact they don’t know what they’re doing.

I think you should tell them that they have a couple of days to deliver the better laptop. Tell them that if they don’t then they should offer you a complete, immediate refund or you’ll take legal action to get your money back. Send me their details and I’ll get in touch with them as well and maybe the added pressure will make them see sense and behave properly?

Can’t they reverse it?

I have a problem. Yesterday there was a transaction of INR 27,069 from my bank account using my debit card while I was in possession of the card at the time and I was in Kanye not India. I reported the matter immediately with the Banks helpline but they said they could not reverse the international transaction because the money was already debited from my account, they said I should submit an affidavit from Police then they can investigate how they funds were debited and by who. I need your assistance coz it's not even 24hrs since it happened and I wanted to know if there is no way that the transaction cannot be cancelled and funds returned to the account. I have never used this card to buy anything online as they have been questioning since yesterday.

I got my statement yesterday and it doesn't reflect the transaction. However it reflects that I have funds pending because the closing balance and the actual balance are different and the difference is the amount missing from my account, meaning the funds have not cleared to wherever they are going

The first time I called the customer helpline they said it could take up to 48 days. but when I went there yesterday the lady who was assisting me said she will call me on Monday and advise about going to report the case to the Police.

I honestly thought since it's an international transfer they could stop the transaction going thru and clear the funds back into my account but they said they couldn’t.

I’m glad that you quickly reported the matter to the bank because until that point they’ll hold you liable for any losses you experience. Now at least there’s a chance they can intervene and prevent the payment going through to whoever stole your money. However, you also need to think very carefully about whether it’s possible that you gave away your card details. Have you been asked to enter them online at all in the last few days?

Meanwhile, I’m shocked that the bank say that it can take 48 days to check this out. I have no idea why a competent bank needs that much time to investigate a transaction.

The good news is that the payment seems not to have been completed yet. The fact that you alerted the bank early is in your favour but I’ll get in touch with the bank to see if they can go a little faster.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Will they fix my bed?

Please I need your help. I bought a bed at a store in Gaborone but realised that the bed is not at all comfortable to an extent that I have backache and waistache. The following day I called the store and the salesperson tells me that its difficult to change the bed for me. Mind you the bed has been with me for a week now but still I can’t understand why I don’t get help. I used my daughters name because I am not employed but able to pay. What do we do now?

When you say that you used your daughter’s name. I assume that means you bought the bed on hire purchase? The first problem is that you’ve placed a considerable burden on her. If you ever have problems paying, it’s your daughter that will pay the price, not you. I understand why sometimes this is done, some people have a bad credit history or other times they don’t have a bank account so they need someone else to sign the agreement but it’s important to understand what this means. It means that the person who signs on your behalf takes all the risks for you.

However, I suggest that your daughter contacts the store and she should remind them that the bed isn’t suitable and that Section 15 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says very clearly that a “consumer has the right to receive goods which are of good quality, in good working order and free of defects”. It’s quite simple, despite the difficulty some stores have in understanding it, but a bed should function as a bed. You should be able to sleep in it in reasonable comfort for a reasonable length of time. It certainly shouldn’t give you backache.

The most important thing to know is very simple. Whatever happens, no matter how frustrated you and your daughter might become, no matter how long it takes for them to fix the bed, you mustn’t stop paying the instalments. That will just make matters much, much worse.

Where’s my pension money?

Long story but briefly, I processed my pension, I got the 1/3 and the 2/3 to be taken monthly which is only P1,000. I resigned from work in 2007 for further studies in the UK but the college was bogus. So I had no job until I returned in September 2018. I'm jobless and the chances of getting any work are very low. I was a teacher.

I had written to BPOPF and to NBFIRA requesting the full amount of the 2/3 but it was refused. I live with my kids who each earn less than P7,000 and pay rent of P3,000 and a grand daughter who attendeds school. I have no house of my own. The money would take me out of poverty and give me a decent life. Is there any where I can go for intervention?

Unfortunately, this is how pension schemes work. If you visit the BPOPF web site (link here) it says that when a member retires, the pension fund member can get one third of his or her benefit which is tax free but the remining two thirds must be used to “purchase an annuity from an approved insurance of his/her choice”. That annuity will pay you an amount every month for the rest of your life, in your case P1,000.

It’s important to understand that pension schemes aren’t saving schemes like you might get from a bank, where you can withdraw any or all of the money you saved when you want it. Pension schemes are there for give you an income when you retire. The only exception is that you are allowed to take one-third in cash on retirement. You can use that for any purpose you like but the smart move is to use it to pay off any debt you might have, maybe finish a building project or perhaps even use it as start-up capital for a new business. Something useful that will help your finances for the rest of your life.

Sadly, the remaining two-thirds is protected and no matter how much you ask, the law forbids your pension provider from changing that.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can’t he fix my CV?

I engaged someone who claims to do professional CVs and cover letters to do me a CV. He did the CV and I paid him P100 and P50 for the covering letter. A week later when I read through the CV I realised that it has a lot of errors which need to be corrected. He sent the CV on 28 Feb in pdf format which means I cannot make any changes. I requested to be corrected on the 3rd of March.

First I requested him to send it to me in Word format so I can edit then he said I should just copy it myself into Word but I was not able to do it from my side. I asked him to do the corrections and he said he cannot do that for free I have to pay. He is claiming that I could have raised that within 24hrs but those conditions were not stated at the beginning.

Worse enough he has now blocked me on WhatsApp. He is now being rude to me and even hanged up the phone on me yesterday.

The first lesson here is about CVs. Please don’t waste your money asking someone else to write your CV for you. Firstly, the sort of person who writes CVs is going to reproduce exactly the same as the one they did for their last client. That’s how they can afford to do it for just P100. The second reason is that people who are recruiting often see hundreds of CVs for every vacancy. The CVs they’re most likely to read are the ones that stand out, the ones that are different. You want your CV to be abnormal, to be different. Mass-produced CVs are boring and HR professionals get bored very easily. You can do better yourself.

Secondly, you chose the wrong person to do your CV for you. I saw the CV he did for you and it’s pathetic. I also had a LONG conversation with him and he was nasty. He simply doesn’t care about his obligations to you as a customer. He certainly doesn’t care about Section 14 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act which says that "where a supplier undertakes to perform any services for or on behalf of the consumer, the consumer has a right to ... the performance of the services in a manner and quality the consumers are reasonably entitled to expect".

In fact, he blamed it all on you, saying you took too long to notify him of the errors, and saying that it was too difficult to edit pdf documents. He also told me “I not familiar with all laws, consumer law.”

The best solution? Forget the P150, it’s gone and you paid for a valuable lesson about who you can trust. Also, check your email. I converted your pdf CV into Word format for you. It took about 5 minutes. Good luck with getting a job.

Where’s my forex money?

I had an agreement with a certain company for forex account management and up to today they seem to have neglected our contracts. I’m trying to follow up I'm realizing they are doing this to many many people and running away with people’s money. The moved from commerce park I'm not sure where they are right now.

Sadly the guy has been so arrogant. I want him to at least to return my principal amount.

Here’s a painful lesson for anyone tempted to trade foreign exchange. In fact, there are several lessons. Firstly, like Bitcoin, trading currencies is a loser’s game. When you buy and sell currencies, you’re competing against massive institutional investors who employ industry experts with supercomputers. What chance do you and I have against that? We might make small amounts if we invest a lot of time in developing some skills but, like gambling, the odds are stacked against us.

The second lesson is that the forex industry has much more than their fair share of crooks, liars and thieves. Obviously there ARE some honest, decent companies but they’re sometimes hard to find.

Unfortunately, the company you named privately is one I’ve heard of many times before. I think we both need to speak to NBFIRA, the Bank of Botswana and the new Competition and Consumer Authority to see who wants to help us close these crooks down.

Monday, 16 March 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can they charge me?

I had a 12 month contract with a gym for which I authorized them to withdraw P550 through bank direct debit. My contract just ended on 28th February. Beginning of February, I went to fill in termination forms that I will not be continuing.

A week after that someone called me, saying they would like to offer me a monthly subscription at half price for March and April. I told them that I have no time to attend the gym and that I have been paying without attendance just because I was on contract. The person on the phone said that this is not a contract but just a discount offer. Then I said ok. My understanding was that if I want to continue they will charge me at half price for the next two months.

I didn’t know that they will proceed to debit P225 from my bank in March even if I did not go back to them to sign for it. Now they are saying I agreed to the discount on the phone and they would not refund me.

Kindly explain where I am wrong.

I’m not an attorney but I know one thing about the law. Once an agreement is in writing then that’s all there is to the agreement. If you filled in forms cancelling your membership then I think you can argue that the deal is definitely over. However, that doesn’t alter the fact that they’re taking your money and they might have a recording of you agreeing to this new discounted deal.

I also know that Section 22 of the new Consumer Protection Act says that a consumer “may rescind a transaction resulting from any direct sale or mail order sale without reason or penalty … within 10 working days after the date on which … the transaction or contract between the supplier and consumer was concluded”. The question is whether the phone call they made to sell you the discounted deal was a “direct sale”. I think it was.

I suggest that you call the gym and explain the law to them and tell them very clearly that you’re no longer interested and that they do not have your authority to take your money.

Who should pay?

I paid for granite without installation on Wednesday 4th March to be collected on Friday 6th. On Friday morning they called saying they had a break down and I should collect it on Saturday. I told them that the people I hired to install it are on site ready to install the kitchen unit. I had agreed with them that the granite will be delivered on Friday so I had paid the others for the installation. I asked the manager if they are going to install the granite for us for free and he said no.

My concern is that the manager breached the contract and now we have to find someone to install the granite with extra cost whereas the manager is the one who inconvenienced us and he did not even show any remorse.

I can imagine how frustrating this must be. However, I don’t think I can offer you any good news.

I know that the granite supplier let you down but their delivery wasn’t, as far as I can see, contractually connected to the people who you paid to do the installation. They were two different agreements with different suppliers. Yes, in your mind they were connected but not to either of the companies. Looking back it might have been wise to ask the granite supplier to put in writing that they accept that delivery had to be on the Friday and accepting that they would be responsible for the cost of any delay. However, I can also imagine that the granite supplier would probably have refused to sign an agreement saying that. They’ll know that there often are mishaps like the delivery truck breaking down. In their position I certainly wouldn’t have made such a promise.

Maybe it’s worth approaching the supplier and asking if they can do the installation for you at a discounted rate, given that they caused your delay and extra costs? It’s worth asking!

Sunday, 8 March 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my refund?

I have this problem that I would like your office to help tackle. I bought a truck spare part for P2,250 on the 14th February and during the purchase I advised the Assistant that if the part was not the correct one I will return it and we were in agreement. On the 15th I realized that the part was not the correct one when we tried to install it in the truck and I called the assistant and told him that I have confirmed that it is not the correct one so I will return it with the sample part.

On the 18th I returned the spare part with my sample part and they told me they will source for the correct part. Upon receiving the quotation (P5,500) the price was more than double the previous price and I told them I cannot afford hence the request for refund. The answer that I received from the manager, I quote, “No problem, but it will take time for refund, once we have enough cash we will call you.”

My question is that is it lawful for them to tell me that it will take long for them to refund me. Since I had paid them cash, do I have to suffer to get my money back.

Just so everyone understands, we don’t have a right to change our minds when we buy something. I know some stores allow customers to return things, but that’s just good customer service, not a consumer right. It’s not something you can insist on in other stores.

The right we DO have is to return something that is faulty or that was mis-sold but I don’t believe either of these happened in your case?

Nevertheless, the store has said they’ll refund you in this case which is good news but I can understand your frustration that they are taking so long to make it happen.

I suggest you speak to the manager or owner and ask exactly how long it’s going to take. That’s not an unreasonable request.

I need a refund as well!

I bought a phone last year July which is still under warranty of 12 months. By November the phone started giving me problems, it started freezing and I took it back to them. It spent a full month there being repaired.. When they called me to come and collect it I found it not working again. I returned it to them same day and they told me they are taking it back to the technician. I kept checking in on them and I was told that it was still with the technician. December they called me to come and collect it. I went there, just when I was about to leave their shop I realised that the screen was not fitted properly. I immediately took it back. They apologized and took the phone back. January they called me back, I went to get it. I inserted the sim card on the 3rd day after collection, then BOOOOM!!! the phone still freezes. I took it back again and demanded my money back since they could not fix it. They have been having my phone for the past 3 months or so and they said their office does not handle refund cases. Shocking I know. Now they said I should top up with P500 and get a different phone. The thing is I do not trust them and their technician. I just want my money back. Please help me.

This is ridiculous. The good news is that law is on your side.

Section 16 of the Consumer Protection Act says that when goods are faulty the supplier is required to repair them, replace them or refund the customer. That’s quite simple. It’s important to know that it’s up to the supplier to decide which of those three options they offer you.

However, the Act then says that if goods are repaired and the same problem occurs within three months the supplier is then required either to replace them or refund the customer. They no longer have the right to say that they’ll repair the item.

This is a powerful new protection that we consumers now have and it’s very important that we all understand it. Suppliers now only get once chance to repair things. Once only.

I suggest that we both educate this supplier on their new obligations and see if they can behave better!

Sunday, 1 March 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Do I get my premiums back?

Please help me here sir. I want to find out if there is anything that I can benefit from the just terminated funeral policy I had. I happened not to be able to pay accordingly because of some commitments and failing to reach their office for payment. I never had any issues of paying the policy while I was using Standard Chartered bank so when I moved to Bank ABC they told me they do not have stop orders with Bank ABC and there is no way they can help unless I pay over the counter of which this led to me not being able to be consistent due to several reasons. So today I went to pay so they told me the policy has been terminated on the 15th of February.

You’re not the first person who’s contacted us with this question. In fact, we hear it all the time and it’s a clear sign that the insurance industry is doing a very bad job at educating consumers on what insurance actually is.

Put simply, insurance is paying someone else to take a financial risk on your behalf. For example, I pay an insurance company a premium every month so that if I have a car accident, the insurance company will pay to fix my car and any other cars I might damage. I also pay my bank a small sum every month to pay for my funeral if I die. I also pay a monthly premium so that if anything is stolen from my home the insurance company will pay to replace it.

The common misunderstanding is that what you’re buying is the transfer of risk, it’s not a savings scheme. If the event against which you’re insuring happens then the costs are paid, but if the event doesn’t happen you don’t get your money back. You were buying cover against the event happening, not an investment. It’s like paying rent to occupy a house. If you signed the tenancy agreement but never actually moved in, would you expect the landlord to refund you? No. It’s the same with insurance if the bad events you’re insuring against don’t happen.

The good news is that you can start another funeral policy really easily.

Should they have let me test it?

I bought a budget semi-smart phone from a Rail Park shop on 12th Feb, at a small amount of P200 to use while awaiting my iPhone which is undergoing repair. When I requested for the demo phone to be switched on so that I can browse to check if it meets my taste, I was told it can only be done once I have paid for it (made no sense to me). I bought the phone and later realized its super slow and frustrating to type with it. In 2 days time, as I stay in Jwaneng, I went to Jwaneng shop requesting to return and buy different model from same shop. They told me no returns accepted. I will be meeting the branch manager this coming Monday as he was away. The only thing I signed is SIM registration. It seems I should have also signed 'warranty card', which never happened. I don’t know what is contained in guarantee card but I don't see any fairness in buying a phone you have no idea of until you have purchased it but you are not be allowed to return unsatisfied.

My first observation is that it’s always going to be a difficult experience, downgrading from an iPhone to a P200 phone, that’s just to be expected, isn’t it? We can argue the merits of iPhones and its competitors but if you’ve spent time using a high-end smartphone of any origin, using an entry-level phone is going to be a shock.

More importantly, you have a good point about the P200 phone you got. I think it’s reasonable, no matter how cheap an item might be, to ask to see it working before you buy it. Firstly, you have a right to see that it does what the store claims it does but you also have a right to see that it does it reasonably well. I don’t think it matters that it’s very cheap, it still needs to do its job reasonably well.

Let me know what the store manager says and if they come up with a solution. If they can’t or won’t address your concerns, at least you have a backup phone you can keep for emergencies.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my money?

I need your assistance. In 2018 we engaged a company/individual. He was supposed to provide us with a backdrop and carpet at our wedding on the 17th December 2018 both a cost of P2,500. He did not honour his promise. We informed him that since he didn’t provide the service he should refund us since we had paid up front. He agreed. We have been chasing him the whole of 2019 and even up to now he has not given us the refund. He keeps on saying he is expecting some money and he will give us our refund. We believe we have been patient enough with him and we now think it’s time to take action. We believe he is deliberately not honouring his promise as on his Facebook page he posted up recent deliveries he made to clients. He is surely making money. We need your intervention in the matter.

I know I’ve said this many times before, but I’m constantly surprised by how badly many people in the wedding industry behave. They don’t seem to understand, or perhaps they just don’t care, that the work they do is for once-in-a-lifetime events. They have been hired to deliver products and services for extremely special occasions. Sometimes it’s people like your supplier who are offering to supply material things, other times it’s caterers, sometimes cakemakers, most often it’s photographers and videographers. Either way, on the big day, they frequently leave their customers with a key part of their occasion missing, forcing them either to go without completely, or spend even more money finding an alternative supplier at the last minute.

I suggest that you email or message this guy making it very clear to him that he owes you P2,500 and that you are absolutely NOT going to let him get away without refunding you. I’d tell him that he has seven days to repay you or you’ll be going to the Small Claims Court for an order against him. I’ll also get in touch with him and make sure he understands that you’re serious about this. Maybe between us we can force him to do the decent thing?

My house is a mess!

Please I need your help or advice. I bought a lounge suit in 2015 and when i bought it I told the shop assistant I need a leather lounge sofa and she showed me a sofa costing P27,000 in black and told me and my hubby it was leather. With the description she gave us about how to identify leather we paid P20,000 that very day. I told the lady shop assistant that I want to take it to my new house and its has to stay new. Mr Richard I moved my tv to the bedrooms to save my lounge. We have never sat In that lounge as family because we were saving it so only visitors will sit on it. Last year we realized it was peeling off so we just thought maybe the kids are not cleaning it properly. Towards the end of year I told the lady who sold it to me the problem I have and she told me a lot of people who bought were complaining and she said she will come and see it. I later went to see the complaints manager who sent people to come and see it. Still no help. I went to the manager who also came to see it and its now 2 weeks since they said they will get back to me. Please help me because its killing me and my house is in a mess.

There are several lessons to learn here. Firstly, you need to be very careful when you spend a lot of money on furniture. Very often furniture stores sell vastly over-priced but poorly produced products. Here’s a tip I suggest everyone tries. Before you purchase any item of furniture, ask the staff in the showroom to turn it upside down so you can inspect the quality of the materials and the workmanship. You’ll be surprised how poorly some items have been made. You don’t need to be an expert carpenter to spot poor quality materials and assembly.

The second lesson is always to ask for advice on how to maintain products that are made of leather. My limited understanding is that it’s not a material you can just ignore and hope it will stay in perfect condition. It probably needs regular love and attention to keep it at its best.

Thirdly, you can infer a lot from the length of a warranty. If an item has a one-year warranty, and almost all furniture sold by furniture stores does, that’s how long you can be confident it will last. Unfortunately, in your case you are now way beyond the warranty period and the store has no obligation to assist you any longer.

Realistically, I think the best you can hope for from this store is advice on how you can repair the damage or “wear and tear” that your sofa has experienced.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

A 5-day warranty?

Good day sir. I need help. I bought a charger at some computer shop in December and after 3 weeks it stopped working. When I went there to complain they claimed I had damaged the charger which I didn’t. I even showed them the compartment which didn’t work they were raising their voice and telling me how new their chargers are. They said I should pop out P50 and me being impatient and needing to access a very important document in it I did give them the money and got a new charger. Now after 3 weeks the charger dies again and I call them and tell them then they give me attitude and say they cant help me because their laptop charger warranty is 5 days and it has been more than that. I’m wondering if any action can be taken because this is the second time this has happened even if their warranty is long over.

I think this computer shop needs a little education on consumer rights in Botswana.

Section 15 (1) of the 2018 Consumer Protection Act says that a consumer “has the right to receive goods which are of good quality, in good working order and free of defects”. Clearly this shop finds that a difficult thing to understand.

Section 16 (2) of the Act goes on to say that a consumer “may return goods to a supplier in their merchantable or original state, within six months after the delivery of the goods, without penalty and at the supplier’s risk and expense” if the goods fail to meet the requirements of Section 15.

So their five day warranty is, how shall I put this politely, “very silly”.

I suggest that you go back to the store and explain this to them and if they give you any trouble, maybe you should suggest that the get themselves a copy of the Consumer Protection Act, or, if they need advice, they are welcome to contact us for advice. For a fee!

Is it roadworthy?

Hello Mr Harriman, I bought this vehicle from this guy based in UK but he has company partners in Gaborone who receive these vehicles on arrival. I have used this guy before to buy another vehicle but this time around the vehicle I got is so rusty that I ask myself how it passed the roadworthiness test at transport.

The vehicle is rusted underneath so much that the chassis is rotten with rust. I have shown him images I took but he just told me UK vehicles are rusty. I don't dispute that but this one is rotten with rust, and he was the one in UK who could have told me about the vehicle situation so that I could have told him to keep looking for better vehicle. I bought it for P70,000 though at BURs he claimed to have bought it for 950 pounds. What are my rights and what can I do, it's been less than I month that vehicle is in my hands?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of problems like this with imported cars and it’s a very good example of why I urge people to be extremely cautious when buying cars from overseas. The problem is that buying a car from another country usually means you can’t inspect it or test drive it. You have no real guarantee that the vehicle that arrives will be roadworthy or in the condition the seller claims. Yes, they might have pictures but can you be certain they’re really of the vehicle you want?

Obviously this doesn’t apply to an imported car that is already in Botswana. At least then you can test drive it and either inspect it yourself or ask a friendly mechanic to do so for you.

There are several things you can do. The first thing you can do is tell the seller that they failed to honour Section 5 of the Consumer Protection Act which says that a supplier may not “falsely represent” that goods are of a “a particular standard, quality, value, grade”. I don’t think it’s fair to deliver a vehicle that is so rusty. Like you, I would also question how it received any roadworthiness approval in such a state.

However, the most powerful weapon you have is the value they declared to BURS. If the importer told BURS that the vehicle was worth just £950, which is about P13,000, and then sold it for more than five times that amount, he was clearly trying to avoid paying tax. The Voice reported just three weeks ago that BURS had “discovered many cars were being undervalued during their clearance at the time of them arriving into the country”. I suggest that you contact BURS and see what they have to say about this!

Saturday, 8 February 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can I get a refund?

We kindly need help with the following:

A day care centre in Orapa is refusing to refund us back the registration fee of P500. We paid in December 2019 and in January when we went to view the school facility we were not impressed with the reception of the owner gave us as he was too casual, not welcoming and did not give us any attention. We decided that it was not the school we were looking for and asked for the refund which we were only told today on the 29th January 2020 after 3 visits that we will not get. Their reason is we denied another potential kid space.

Please help us, advise us because in our view they were not disadvantaged by our change of hearts it was also influenced by their poor reception. Furthermore if we were informed either in writing or word of mouth that the fee was not refundable we would have paid with upfront knowledge but now the no refund is announced as an after thought and we feel it is not fair hence our cry for help.

Unfortunately, I think this is going to be difficult. The bad news is that it is normal practice to pay a deposit to reserve a place in a private school or daycare center and these deposits are usually non-refundable. That’s because the school sees that payment as a commitment from the parents that their child will be attending and that therefore reserve a place for them. It’s possible that they will have turned away other potential parents as a result.

I hope you won’t be offended when I say that it was unwise not to have visited the school before you paid the deposit. Obviously that way you would have discovered how unsuitable the center was for your child before you committed yourself.

However, I think this depends very much on what you agreed to. Did you sign anything when you paid the deposit? Were any terms and conditions shown to you? Did they send you any documents? If not, you might have a chance of persuading the owner that you never actually agreed to the non-refundable nature of the deposit. However, I don’t think you should be optimistic. I’m certainly not.

Can I get a refund too?

I need help because I don't know what to do. I bought a fridge on credit and I was supposed to pay in 12 months but I cleared my account in November 2019. In December they deducted the stop order, yet I had paid off the account. I've been going there, calling them demanding my refund. They told me they are not able to process the refund because the money the system shows I'm owed is lower than the one they deducted. Therefore they have to amend what their system reflects, that's when they can be able to process my refund.

This is the second month now, and I'm still told the same thing. What do I do in situations like this?

What should you do? I think it’s time to lose your temper.

I understand that mistakes happen, that’s because we’re human, not computers. Failing to correctly terminate your stop order was a mistake but I would be content to overlook that if they hadn’t then been so useless.

This business about the refund they owe you being less than the last instalment they took is just silly. Who cares? Why is that your problem? Why are they bothering you with their inability to do the simplest thing? How difficult can it be to update their computer system and give you the money you’re entitled to?

I think we should both remind this store that Section 14 (1) of the new Consumer Protection Act says very clearly that a supplier must offer services “in a manner and quality the consumers are reasonably entitled to expect”. That means we can’t expect miracles from any supplier but we are entitled to expect reasonably good service. A series of pathetic excuses about why their systems are too difficult to update is not reasonably good service.

I’ve emailed their Head Office and let’s see what they can do to help you.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is it real?

I need you help sir. I received an email last week from Reid Hoffman who claimed to be the CEO for LinkedIn claiming that as the LinkedIn management they saw it worthy to donate $500,000 to my bank account for charitable work. And they stated that I will have to divide the 60% by 40% in which 60% has to be used for charity then 40% I have to use it for the business of my own. But the problem I have now, they sent me all documents and certificates which they claimed to be proof for the donation and they asked me to provide them with my bank details so that they can deposit the donation. But now they are saying for them to transfer the donation into my account I have to pay $235 as a transfer fee.

My question is am I supposed to pay for any donation sent to my account from someone who volunteered to sponsor my project? And lastly my fear is that I gave them my bank details but they are not sending the money in which I suspect they might play some tricks to steal from my account.. Please help me out.

I think you know by now that this is a scam, don’t you?

The simple truth is that total strangers, whether they claim to be the orphaned children of West African billionaires, companies running lotteries in faraway countries or the leaders of famously successful and wealthy companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook or LinkedIn, don’t approach people offering them enormous amounts of money. They simply don’t.

When these emails arrive, the story always eventually reach the point you’ve reached. In order to get the money they’ve promised to send you, they tell you that you have to send them money first. Sometimes it’s a legal fee, other times they’ll call it an account opening fee or like in your case, a “transfer fee”. This is what the whole thing is about. It’s why these deceptions are called “advance fee” scams, it’s all about the fee they want in advance. Nothing is genuine about this situation. There is no donation and it’s certainly not anyone from LinkedIn you’ve been communicating with.

I know you’re concerned about having given away your bank account details but I don’t think there’s anything wo worry about if you’ve just disclosed the account number and your name. I hope you haven’t disclosed anything more than that? Either way, I think it’s worth contacting your bank and telling them what happened if that makes you any more comfortable. Whatever you do, do NOT send these scammers any money. You will never see it again and scammers don’t offer refunds!

Who must I pay?

Hello Mr Harriman. I had a loan in 2015. I took P25 000 from Get Bucks and I was paying P1,300 every month as instalment. in March 2017 my contract came to an end so I didn't update them after that. So 2017 September I got employed again and went to them. We agreed to pay P900 instalment because I was payed less than before. Even now am still paying. So my worry is I am being called by Norman Bisset everyday telling me about my account with Get Bucks. They are saying my account is sold to them by Get Bucks. I asked them why Get Bucks sell my account to them without notifying me. They tell me that its how its done by the laws. Today I told them that I can't stop salaries office to stop deducting money using Get Bucks because there is no any agreement between me and Norman Bisset. They told me that I will pay for the airtime that they use to call me everytime. So is this how it is in cases like this?

Unfortunately, yes, this is how these things work. If you stop paying your loan instalments without communicating with the company that lent you money, they’ll go through the process described in the loan agreement you originally signed. That agreement probably said that if you stop paying, the lender is entitled to engage debt collectors to recover the money you owe them. The debt collector very often does this by buying the debt from the lender. You then owe the debt collector, not the company you originally borrowed the money from. In your case it probably is Norman Bissett that owns the debt. It’s them you have to pay.

However, you are entitled a full statement of the debt and I think that should be the first thing you should ask for. Then check that they’ve calculated everything correctly. You then need to speak to the original lender to see what they’ve been doing with the P900 instalments you’ve been making. Have they passed them over to the debt collector? If not, what have they done with them?

If you have any difficulty with either company, let me know and I’ll ask them both some questions.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can’t I get my refund?

Please advise. I booked and paid for a return ticket from Gaborone to Joburg. The departure date was 29th December and return on 1st January. However, a few days before departure I was told that I might not use the same transport for my return trip and that they will make arrangements for me on a different bus and relay the information to me by 30th December, which they didn't, despite me making follow ups with them. I checked on them again on the morning of 31st and when they did respond I was told I had been booked on a bus that will be leaving Joburg at 12:30pm, something which didn't sit well with me since I wanted an earlier bus. I told them that I will make my own arrangements and requested for a refund but my request was declined, citing that it's against their policy, and that I will use the ticket next time I travel with them. The thing is, I have no plans to travel to Joburg anytime soon and definitely not with them. Now my question is, are they right to refuse me a refund?

Are they right to refuse you your refund? I think that depends very much on the conditions you agreed to when you bought the ticket. If the Terms and Conditions say clearly that no refunds are payable, and you acknowledged them before you agreed to buy the ticket, then that’s how things must be. But did you actually agree to these conditions?

(I asked this consumer whether she had actually seen the terms and conditions and she said:

“I was told about the receipt having the T & Cs just 2 days before departure and I was in Francistown by then and was only going to arrive in Gaborone on Saturday evening for the Sunday morning departure. I was initially told that I will be sent the receipt after I made the payment, so I guess I could have been aware of the T & Cs well in time should they have done so.”

It seems to me quite clear. How could you have agreed to these conditions when you weren’t aware of them? The good news is that Section 25 of the new Consumer Protection Act says that a supplier must give the consumer “a copy of the written contract, at the time the transaction between the supplier and the consumer is entered into”. Not the following day, not a week later, at the time you agreed to it. Those terms and conditions were critical parts of the contract you signed with this bus company and they failed you by not telling you about them on the day you bought the ticket, instead of some days later. I suggest you tell the bus company this and see if they want to face a fine of up to P100,000 or serve a term of up to five years in prison. Or both!

Was it just my mistake?

I made a stop order of P100 from my current to my savings account in June 2013. I erroneously wrote a wrong account beneficiary account number by 1 digit. The money went to the person I don't know. I have been checking the account and just thought the stop order didn't materialize up until I realised this in 2019 and reported the matter to the Bank. After a long investigation the bank has written to saying that can't refund me. What's painful is that they know the person who got my money. They told me that the person is saying he can only give me P100 per month for 6 yrs. Please on how I can go about this case. I have already reported to the police and they are also taking too long to help.

I agree with them that yes I have made a mistake. My worry is why is the bank not accepting that they are also at fault because they have 2 people who checked and approved the application. Why could the fail to check that the beneficiary name and account number doesn't match.

I agree with you that the bank should obviously have checked that the beneficiary name matched the account number you gave. However, it’s not the first time I’ve heard this. In fact I’ve heard of similar situations many times. Here’s a question for all the bankers reading The Voice this week. Is this normal practice? Is it so difficult to check that the name on the instruction is the same as the name in your incredibly expensive, top-of-the-range computer system? You know, the system WE, your customers paid for?

I’ve contacted the bank in question to see what they say. Yes, you made a mistake when you completed the stop order instruction and you made an even bigger mistake by not checking your account for six years, but this could easily have been avoided if the bank had spent just a couple of seconds helping you to prevent an expensive mistake!

Saturday, 11 January 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my charger?

I took my laptop to an IT shop in Game City to get the charging system replaced. I was charged P800 which I paid which was said to be price for the new charging system and installation. When I came back the following day it couldn't switch on and when the assistant used a different charger it switched on, which meant that my charger was also dead. I was told that the new Dell charger was P350 which I did not have at the time. Later I went back and bought a "supposed" Dell charger for P350 which was said to have a 1 year warranty. I insisted it got tested and my laptop could not switch on, after the new charger cable was changed it switched on. When I got home my laptop couldn't switch on, I went back to the store the following day and I told the owner the problem and he tested it and it did not switch on. He tried different chargers but it still could not switch on, I asked the shop owner why the charger wasn't written Dell and he said it's because it is a replacement, something he did not write on the receipt, on the receipt he wrote a Dell charger.

I told him that I needed an original Dell charger and that my laptop has never been ok since he replaced the charging system and the charger. He said that I could've read his terms and conditions which state that there isn't any warranty for technical issues.. I told him that I would take legal action against him and he said he has terms and conditions but we ended up reaching a conclusion that he checks what the problem is and if it is with the charging system he would replace it and if it isn't he would not be liable.

I said if it has any other problem that would be a result of the charging system then he would be liable and he said that the law cannot do anything to him and I did not know how the Consumer Protection Act protects me.

I keep calling one of the shop assistants to ask if my laptop is fixed yet but it is said to have not been touched ever since I dropped it off. The shop owner does not pick my calls. Please assist me in this matter. Thank you.

I contacted this store and explained a few things to them.

I started by reminding them, because I’m sure they knew this already, that Section 17 of the new Consumer Protection Act states that
“A supplier shall give a warranty on every new or reconditioned part installed during any repairs or maintenance work, and labour required to install it, for a period of three months after the date of installation of the part". 
I suggested that it is therefore unacceptable to deny that a warranty is not offered on any goods or services that are repaired.

I went on to remind them that Section 23 of the Act also states that a supplier
"shall not enter into a contract, agreement or any other arrangement with any consumer … which … requires a consumer … to • to waive any right” or “to waive any liability of the supplier”.

I then asked them if it was true that the charger she believed was from Dell was in fact not manufactured by Dell because that would also be a breach of the Act?

They offered her a new Dell charger.

Can they copy my card?

Microlenders and cash loans have a trend of asking their customers to provide a copy of the ATM card and the copy usually has both the front and the back part. Isn’t this illegal? Isn’t this almost the same as taking the card itself?

I think it’s so close to being the same that it’s wrong. Possibly even against the rules.

The danger is that even though the lender doesn’t have the card and can’t use it in an ATM as some microlenders used to do, they still have all the information necessary to transact online. They have your full name, card number and the CVV number and there’s nothing to stop them using that information to spend all your money online. It’s a massive breach of card security and if they were to misuse your card, you bank wouldn’t help you. You disclosed the information to a third party and it’s therefore your fault, the bank would say, if the money was spent inappropriately.

(The text below was taken from the NBFIRA web site showing the rule that micro lenders are not permitted to take a borrower's card.)

So here’s a request. If this has happened to you, please get in touch, send me the details and we’ll see how interested NBFIRA are?