Friday 27 March 2009

Be a skeptic

There has never been a better time to be a skeptic. With an avalanche of scam artists, some very shady stores selling on credit, the usual dodgy loan sharks and the looming financial crisis this is a time to start using our brains rather than just our emotions.

This is a time to use our critical thinking skills and not believe things just because someone says they’re true. This is a time to be a skeptic. There’s certainly no shortage of things to be skeptical about.

Holiday Clubs

No, not necessarily The Holiday Club, I mean ANY holiday club. I mean any so-called club that has a clause in the contract that says you can never leave the club. Any club that requires a lifetime membership and annual fees for the rest of your existence is not to be trusted, particularly if they don’t tell you about it BEFORE you sign the contract.

Why would they do this? Well, it might be a mistake of course but isn’t it more likely that it’s a plan to hook you in and then not let you go?

Holiday clubs are also not even worth the money most of the time. There are suggestions that it’s not even a particularly cheap way to take holidays. The last-minute deals offered by travel agents are often much cheaper. Couple that with the massive restrictions holiday clubs place on when you can take your holidays and you have to wonder why anyone would join.

Pyramid self-improvement schemes

Success University is the obvious example of this. They claim to be a mechanism for helping you get your hands on miraculous self-improvement DVDs, tapes and the like. In fact they’re a pyramid-selling scheme. What they really want you to do is join their pyramid and to start hiring people beneath you. With promises of vast riches it’s no wonder people find the idea appealing.

But it’s all nonsense. Nobody is ever going to make a fortune in a pyramid scheme other than the crooks at the top. Their money-making scheme is based entirely on the gullibility of the people beneath them in the pyramid.

I’m not the only one who think Success University is a pyramid selling scheme. In Namibia they’ve been outlawed because of the way they do their business.

And finally, why on earth do they call themselves a university when they’re not a university? Isn’t that a big clue that they are not what they claim?

They aren’t the only ones of course. Just last week I came across another scheme called “Be Motivated Today”. This is based in South Africa and also promises “wealth and financial freedom”, all from “passive income”, “earning money without having to work for it”. They are curiously vague about how exactly you are meant to do this but once you do some digging you quickly find out that they are a Success University clone. To make the mythical sums they mention you have to start recruiting other victims.

Pyramid selling schemes don’t work and you should avoid them.

Dodgy churches

It’s not just the so-called Church of Scientology that is primarily interested in money rather than salvation. We’ve all read the stories of often foreign-run independent little churches that have started in Botswana and have very quickly awarded their preachers top of the range 4x4s, flashy suits and jewellery. Just like a pyramid scheme they offer the impossible, demand cash up front and more often than not end up leaving the country in a hurry, often persued by their creditors, their “customers” and the Police.


Consumer Watchdog went to the recent workshop where the Non-Bank Financial Industry Regulatory Authority launched their new proposed rules governing micro-lenders. Unbelievably during a questions session a micro-lender stood up and attempted to defend the practice of taking customer’s ATM cards and PIN numbers so they could be sure to get their money back. Staggering I know, but at least the authorities put him in his place. In case anyone doesn’t know where I stand on the matter let me make it clear. Loan sharks who take ATM cards and PIN numbers from customers are crooks and scumbags. Simple enough?

Customer service gurus

A couple of weeks ago I was rather scathing about the travelling customer service experts who travel the world, telling us how we can deliver the very best service, how they know best and how much we should pay them for dispensing their wisdom.

Well, I’m told that the latest visiting expert at his big function repeatedly used the phrase “here in Tanzania” throughout his presentations. This is the same guy who on his web site proudly announces his work in “Bostwana”.

How much more evidence do we need to conclude that these travelling gurus offer nothing new? In fact I don’t think they offer anything old either. All they offer is words, the same words we’ve all heard before, the same as in their overpriced books.

Did you go to hear this guy speak? Did you hear him get confused about the country who was hosting his royal visit? Let me know what you thought!

This week’s stars
  • Piet in the pharmacy at the Gaborone Private Hospital for outstanding service. Our reader says he is committed, always friendly and very helpful.
  • Greg and the team at the Walmont Ambassador (yeah, I know we all think of it as the Grand Palm Hotel) for looking after visitors

No comments: