Saturday, 14 May 2022

The Voice - Consumers Voice

Can they charge this much?

Is there any body that regulates loan agreements as in the amount of interest to be generated? I mean is it within the law for a loan of around P77,000 to be paid back as P286,000?

For clarity purposes an elder took a loan for P77,000 then he was told that he was to pay back the loan over 7 years at a monthly premium of around P3,400. Mind you the elder earns around P5,500. Another dubious part is there was around P9,000 was taken from the initial loan with unclear description as to what it is for, meaning that he did not get the actual P77,000. On top of that there were small fees amounting to roughly P600 termed as service fees. My question here is that can someone pay more than triple the principal? Why was the loan designed to take around 3/4 of the persons take home.

And why also was the form brought along to the signing without the whole document for them to read? This clearly shows that the agent wanted to hide some details for the elder to sign clueless.

You raise several important issues. Firstly, how much interest can a lender charge? The answer is simple. They can charge whatever they please. I don't know of any law, regulation or rule that limits interest rates. However, there is one limit that everyone should know about. This is a thing called the 'in duplum' rule. This rule says that when a debt is settled, the amount of interest paid must not exceed the capital amount remaining. But the important issue is that this only applies if a debt is finally settled in one payment, not if it's paid over many years.

Secondly, the maths is correct. Seven years is 84 months and 84 x 3,400 is P285,600. However, that seems an enormous amount to repay to me. If these figures are correct, this person is paying an annual interest rate of over 50% and that is scandalously high. While that's not illegal it's certainly immoral.

Finally, there's the affordability issue. Lenders should be checking how affordable a loan will be before they give someone the money. Any loan that takes more than half of someone's income is clearly not going to be affordable and it's reckless of any lender to offer it.

I suggest that your elderly friend contacts NBFIRA to see if the company lending this money is legitimate. I suspect something is very wrong here. 

When will they pay me?

Hello sir, I want to know where can I report an insurance company based in Gaborone. I was involved in a minor car accident in January and I submitted quotations even now the insurance company has not helped me.

I have been told 2 months back that the assessor is coming to assess the car and the quotation. The quotes I submitted were valid for a month and now they are invalid. I requested they refund me my subscription money because they can't help me.

The car insurance was for the value of 300k, every year I paid 12,000 annual and another 12,000 this year. I never defaulted and this was supposed to be my first claim.

This is completely unacceptable. When someone submits an insurance claim there's obviously a process to go through but there's no way it should take this long. I could understand if it took a week or two to fill in forms, get quotations for repairs, sort out arguments with the other parties involved but four months is ridiculous.

You sent me the contact details of the person who sold you the policy and it's important to understand that he was an insurance broker, he didn't work for an insurance company. His job was to find the best policy from the best insurance company that best suited your needs.

I hope this is just a result of this insurance broker being inefficient. The bad news is that it might be something more serious. There's a chance that you never had insurance at all. This wouldn't be the first time we've heard of an insurance broker who sold a customer a policy and then took the monthly payments but never actually passed them to the insurance company.

I've tried contacting the broker but he doesn't seem to want to talk. I'll speak to NBFIRA instead. You should too.

UPDATE: It seems that the broker never opened the insurance policy. NBFIRA have been informed.

Saturday, 7 May 2022

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

When can I get my phone back?

Hello Richard kindly assist me here. I brought an iPhone 8+ to a repair shop on Sunday for back glass repair and water damage. They told me it would be done in 2 hours but the next thing they told me to come on Monday. The following day I was told the technician was sick and unable to come to work and that he was said to attend to it on Tuesday which he failed to do. I told them to please backup my phone and gave him up until Thursday. To this day I do not have the phone. His exact words where "your phone will be ready when it's ready". He said this today after making me wait for an hour and a half outside their store.

Some stores are run by people who do not deserve to be in business. I've said this many times before and some people have misunderstood so let me say this clearly again.

You have no right to be successful in business. Success in business comes from a lot of hard work, attention to detail, honesty and a lot of luck. I think the two biggest things you can do to make your business successful are to find something you're good at and enjoy doing and then to treat your customers with respect, humour and honesty. This store is not doing any of those things and I predict this. They're going to fail.

Section 14 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that "Where a supplier undertakes to perform any services for or on behalf of a consumer, the consumer has a right to … timely performance and completion of those services (and) timely notice of any unavoidable delay". I think that's quite simple. If they said the repair could be done in 2 hours that should be true. Of course, we're reasonable people and we accept that sometimes things don't go to plan but this isn't good enough. Repeated delays and excuses aren't good enough.

I contacted the store and they have finally responded, saying they will look into the situation. But it shouldn't take this long, should it?

How many times can they repair it?

Hello Richard l have stress here. l bought a fridge for my Mum in October 2021. On 24th l transported the fridge to my mum but when plugging the fridge it was not working. We reported the fridge in January they told us the technician will come and assess the fridge. The technician fixed the fridge but I told them l no longer want the fridge but they said the fridge is ok. The fixed fridge was producing loud noises and even freezing on top. Even if you put it at low it will even freeze on top. It just worked for 2 months then that same problem again. The fridge is not working l took the fridge to the store complaining that l need my money back.

l no longer trust the fridge but they said there's no refund and they will fix the fridge at least 3 times. l asked them where in their Ts & Cs that is written that a nowhere is written so help Richard. l don't have a fridge and they are refusing with my money.

Yet again it's time for some free education. This store clearly doesn't know what the Consumer Protection Act says. Section 16 (2) of the Act says that even without a warranty, a consumer "may return goods to a supplier in their merchantable or original state, within six months after the delivery of the goods … if the goods fail to satisfy the requirements and standards" required by the Act. It then says that the store must either repair the item, replace it or refund the consumer their money.

That's normal and just to be expected. If something is faulty then the supplier must fix the problem. However, the best part of the law is what it says next. It says that once something has been repaired, if "within three months the same problem recurs in the goods, the supplier shall … replace the goods or refund the consumer the amount paid by the consumer".

In simple terms, the supplier only gets one chance to fix a faulty item. If it fails again within three months it's time for a replacement or a refund.

I've emailed the store's Head Office and explained this to them in very simple terms. Let's see if they can understand it.

Saturday, 30 April 2022

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why can't they help me?

Good afternoon Sir. I am desperately in need of your help. My husband purchased building supplies from a company, We took part of the goods and lost the receipt before getting the rest. Now the remaining goods are at their warehouse bearing my husband's name and they are refusing to assist us. We even made a police affidavit but they are refusing to give us our goods.

They told me that they cannot retrieve the copy from the system and there is no way they can help. Yesterday I went there and pleaded with their manager and he said I have to buy again.

They're lying to you. Or maybe they're stupid. Or both. Either way they shouldn't be in business.

I really do understand that companies like their customers to keep receipts. It's often the easiest way for a company to prove that the person presenting the receipt is the person who paid for the goods. That's easy to understand. However, there are several problems with this obsession with keeping receipts. Firstly, some of them fade. I'm sure we've all seen this. You find an old receipt and it's now completely blank. It's something to do with the printing technology some stores use, only a few weeks after it's printed the ink has completely disappeared.

Then there's the more human issue. People lose things. I always carry the last few receipts I've been given but it's unreasonable for a store to expect me to still have a receipt I was given months ago. I've either lost it or put it somewhere and completely forgotten it. In your situation it's much simpler. You have an affidavit swearing that you are telling the truth. That should be more than enough for anyone.

Most importantly, it's 2022. Any reputable, major supplier that is relying on paper receipts for their business records shouldn't be in business. We live in the 21st century and records should now be computerised. They should be stored in a computer system that is regularly backed up and which can be searched when a customer like you doesn't have their receipt any longer.

I've emailed this supplier twice with your story and I'm not planning on giving up. If they continue to refuse to cooperate, they should ask themselves if they want to ruin their reputation by continuing to be so unhelpful?

Have I been scammed?

I need your advice. Is Binance trading a scam or not? I was referred to them by an old friend. I started with P4000 then made a profit of P20k and was told to upgrade the account to classic which I did by another P15k. The money kept on increasing to $190000 and there was a trader who was an expert trading on my behalf.

The reason I got suspicious is that when they are about to transfer the money into my account they told me to pay them. I told them to deduct from the accumulated profits and give me the change but they told me it's against their company policy.

What opened my eyes was the huge amount they want. When I tell them they should pay the whole lot and I pay them back after receiving my profit that's where the problem is. I need your advice.

You are being scammed. The good news is that you are naturally skeptical and asked the question that always identifies a scam. If you have really made so much money from this scheme, surely they could take their fees from your profits before paying you the balance? Why do they need even more money from you?

Here's a critical point. Binance is a legitimate exchange for buying and selling cryptocurrencies, but this scheme has nothing to do with Binance. Your money has gone to someone else who is pretending to report these fantastic profits. The sad news is that the money you've already given them is gone forever, never to be seen again.

It might not seem like it right now but you were lucky to realise early that this was a scam as early as you did. I've heard from many people who gave scammers more and more money and ended up in desperate situations. You are one of the lucky ones.

Saturday, 23 April 2022

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why can't they refund me?

Richard I need your help concerning my bank. Last month on the 28th I was trying to pay for my university but the payments were declined on the 3rd.

However 7 transactions which were adding up to P12,900 were deducted in my account making it negative as there were no money. I reported it to the Lobatse branch but only 3 transactions were reversed until today. It's almost month end and all my salary is going to be deducted due to these negatives. Please help I tried to call and recheck with them but they always say they are still in progress. What can I do?

Modern times have brought us great progress but it seems like dealing with other people's money hasn't moved forward at all. Many banks, insurance companies, in fact anyone who takes our money seem to think that once they have our money, it's theirs to do with as they please. That's even when they've taken it by mistake and haven't yet given it back.

Section 14 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act is very clear about the way suppliers must offer services. It says that when "a supplier undertakes to perform any services for or on behalf of a consumer, the consumer has a right to … performance of the services in a manner and quality that consumers are reasonably entitled to expect". You clearly had a right to get your money back promptly and with the minimum of fuss. That's just reasonable.

I contacted your bank and they responded quickly, saying that "all transactions have been reversed" and that they had "called the customer to confirm the same".

Maybe next time they can do it all by themselves without intervention from outside?

Will he fix the leak?

Hello Mr Richard Harriman I need your help. In 2019 when we started building at Gaborone North, we bought aluminium windows. These windows have been leaking water into the wall ever since 2019. We reported that to the owner of the company and he kept saying he will come. He only came January this year after I have shared photos of the damage. He did not complete the job and said he will come back till now.

I took more pictures on Monday 11 April after those prolonged rains and shared them with him on WhatsApp and tried to call him but he would not answer. He then sent a message saying he will call me but until today there has been no call, nothing. So I need your help sir. Our house is getting damaged further. I need him to fix his mess and to buy paint as well because that one is now damaged. Thank you.

Yet again, a supplier has decided to ignore the very simple rule included in the Consumer Protection Act that says that a supplier must offer service "in a manner and quality that consumers are reasonably entitled to expect". I expect, you expect, we all expect that when someone install windows, they shouldn't leak. I know, you know, we all know that we sometimes get incredibly heavy rains but I don't care. Brand new aluminium windows manufactured and installed by professionals don't leak.

We shouldn't really need to explain this to a professional, should we?

Update: I suggested to the reader that she should contact the supplier and say she'll be seeking an order from the Small Claims Court against him. She did so and then told me "I told him that he should give me feedback before the end of that day otherwise I'm taking the matter forward. He just blue ticked me and ignored me."

I'll contact him and explain what he needs to do. I'll also explain that his business is likely to suffer if this becomes a court matter. Does he want to protect his reputation or destroy it with his own lack of customer care?

Saturday, 16 April 2022

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can I pay this way?

Sorry to contact you so late but am having a little problem with a service provider.

So I was due for assessment by a mine and after my assessment I was asked to redo my SHE policies. I then engaged a service provider that was referred to me by the assessor to have a look at my policies and advise of which she did not do instead she started working on the documents and sent them through to the assessor without me having a look at them.

The assessor then asked me to sign the documents so that they could be submitted was billed P10,000 for the said documents.

Now the service provider is bugging us for payment of which I have accepted that she did the work and will pay her but due to my current financial restraints I have asked to pay in instalments of P2,500 immediately and the balance by the end of April but they are refusing and claiming I should pay them immediately. Please kindly advise on what I should do as I had not given the go ahead for the new documents to be done but had only requested that they have a look at my old documents.

NB: I have accepted they have done the work but not under my instruction and am willing on paying but in 2 payments.

I don't think I have any good news for you. That because I don't think you're being very reasonable.

What has this service provider done wrong? They took your instructions and seem to have done the work as best they could. It's possible you weren't as clear as you should have been to them and the only mistake I think they can be accused of making is not fully understanding your needs.

Most importantly, it was never agreed that you could pay them in two instalments, was it? If they'd agreed that then yes, you could do that. But they didn't.

I understand your financial difficulties but is that their fault? I think the best thing you can do is your very best to pay them for the work they did for you.

Will I get my money back?

Rich, I am having a problem with a car company which imports cars and trucks from UK.

On the 20th October 2020 I made a payment for the purchase of a car from them. On the contract it was stated that delivery is within two months but up to now the car was never delivered. On several occasions I tried to enquire about the delivery and have not yet received a positive response. I was only told yesterday by the owner that the company is being liquidated. He said his lawyer are the ones processing the liquidation process.

I asked about my refund but nothing interesting was said. Please help me Rich. How am i going to get my refund.

More bad news. This is likely to be a difficult one to solve. Almost always a company is liquidated because it doesn't have the money needed to satisfy its obligations. They owe more money than they have. Very often a business like this can only survive by using the money they get from new customers to pay their debts to the earlier customers they've disappointed.

Given that lawyers are now involved I suggest that you write to the owner and their attorneys explaining what you are owed and attaching as much evidence as you can find. You should also demand that the attorneys inform you how they plan to settle their client's debts. Do this sooner rather than later so you improve your chances of getting something back. However, you should also prepare yourself for the worst. There might not even be a thebe left by now.

Saturday, 9 April 2022

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my laptop?

On 12th February I bought a laptop that cost me P4,000 from a store at Riverwalk. I'm a final year student at UB so I particularly needed it for dissertations and other crucial assessments.

Turns out the laptop had a fault that when picked up from a certain position it would show static on the screen and freeze. Once I realised this, I took it back to them. That was this week on Tuesday the 29th March

I explained my situation to a man whom I was told was the branch manager, and he told me it had to be taken to their technician and that after the tech's assessment is when it will either be repaired or refunded. He said this could take anywhere from 1 day to 1 month. I explained to him that it was a very crucial time in our semester and that no access to a laptop would affect me greatly, and so i requested a temporary replacement, a quick refund or at least for the process be put on high priority. This "manager" assured me there was nothing he could do to assist me. Even though I demonstrated the issue and even his colleagues agreed it was a manufacturing error.

Disappointed, I appealed to any higher authority to assist me and I was directed to a man who was more sympathetic and assured me he would update me on the progress the next day (being Wednesday 30th March). He has not responded to me, the number he gave me is not answering calls, and I have work due that 95% of is on that laptop.

I feel very pained because the purpose of why I bought the laptop is now defeated. Is there any authority I can take this further to?

The Consumer Protection Act is very well written and very simple to understand. For example, Section 14 (1) of the Act says that when
"a supplier undertakes to perform any services for or on behalf of a consumer, the consumer has a right to … timely performance and completion of those services". 
It doesn't say that a supplier can take "1 day to 1 month", it says "timely".

Yes, the store does have the right to try to repair a faulty item before they replace it or refund the customer but they must do this reasonably quickly.

You have waited long enough. I contacted the store and they're looking into the situation.

Update: The store customer said, "I called the customer care contact number, and after a lot of holding I was told they tested it and its fine but they want to test it again to make sure so maybe sometime this week".

I'm still not happy. "Maybe sometimes this week" isn't good enough. But let's see what happens?

Why can't they cancel my policy?

I am kindly asking for your assistance. I cancelled my funeral policy on the 27th October 2021 and the confirmation letter stated that it will effect on the 1st November 2021 but still they have been deducting money from my account ever since date of cancellation. Which means they deducted money for the following months: November, December, January and February. On the 3rd February I called them and was given an email account of someone who then said that they will refund me in 2-3 working days. I waited for more than 7 days and still the money was not credited into my account. On the 21st March I went to their offices still requesting for refund and they promised to pay me in 2-3 working days.

P160.80 was credited into my account but that money is for only 1 month, i tried calling their number for clarity and they are unreachable.

It looks like this is another company that doesn't understand what "timely" means.

It also seems like they don't have internal systems that can cope with everyday events like someone cancelling their policy. Surely this must happen all the time. Surely it can't be that complicated for the person who receives the cancellation to alert the correct colleague and then make thing happen? I'm sure we would all understand if the cancellation didn't happen the same month, but I can't see why it would take longer than a week to make the change.

Update: I contacted the company and they promised to sort it out.

Saturday, 2 April 2022

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

What should they do?

Kindly assist me here. I booked accommodation in Mogoditshane in mid-month of February. In one of the rooms, the room was not readily prepared as expected, I realized in the morning that the linen was dirty as I arrived at night, I called the one who offered us the room and showed him everything and he said he will come back to me.

I called them the following day. They gave me two options. Free accommodation or food and I told them I don't trust anymore now. One employee kept on giving false promises that he will call back after talking to the manager. Another employee was so defensive of the company and told me I was given options and have declined them, so I can't be helped. I asked them about their operational policy they don't want to share anything.

From 16th February I have been asking to talk to the manager or director and the three I mentioned, they always have stories, that the manager is not there.

I paid P859 for this service and slept in dirty sheets. They don't care about effects of their compromised standards in relation to health, in this era. Kindly advise me on the route to take, as I requested for a refund but no one want to take responsibility.

This is completely unacceptable. When we spend our hard-earned money in lodges and hotels, we can expect certain things. Obviously the more we spend, the more we can expect but I don't think it matters if we spend tens of thousands or just hundreds, we should always expect courtesy, smiling faces and, perhaps most important of all, cleanliness. Even the cheapest of places should offer us these things.
This place clearly doesn't offer even the basics. You deserved clean sheets, a warm welcome and urgent action if something went wrong. A decently run lodge would have been shocked when you reported your complaint and would have moved heaven and Earth to recover from it. They would have gone out of their way to make you a happy customer again. Rudeness, false promises and management who don't care are the wrong approach.

I approached the management of the lodge and they gave me a very similar response. Blue ticks on WhatsApp, unanswered messages on Facebook and emails that received no reply. Do they want their reputation to be any worse than it already is?

Must I pay?

I wanted to ask about school fees clearance in private school. I paid 1/3 of first term for my kids, and they stopped going to school on 25th February 2022, due to outstanding of fees. Now I took transfer for them to government school.

My question is I'm I supposed to clear the 2/3 fees outstanding without any discount since my kids only went for a month and didn't write any term exam. Kindly assist with the advice.

This will all depend on what is in the contract you signed with the school. My experience with private schools is that term fees are almost always payable in advance because of the difficulty many have with parents paying the fees late and the impact this has on their finances. Very often schools need the fees to keep the schools running, to pay salaries, power and water, books and internet access. That's why they want the fees in advance. I suspect you were lucky only to have paid one third of the term's fees.

However, that's where your luck might end. It's likely that you agreed to pay the entire term fees in the contract which you should check as soon as possible. If you committed to paying for the whole term then they're within their rights to demand you pay the outstanding amount.

Check that contract!