Thursday, 3 June 2010

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

Dear Consumer Watchdog!

Here is something I would like you to help me check out. It’s a message I received on my Facebook account where it says my name appears on deaf help promotion and I am to get $200,000 USD.

It goes on to say my name was selected by Mr Mark Zuckerberg the CEO, Founder and Chief Executive of Facebook and the promotion was made to make all Facebook users benefit from the gains the company made.

They asked me to contact the payment department with full names and address on so as to proceed to give the money in cash.

Another scam, don’t you think?

Yes, you’re absolutely right, this is clearly a scam. You very smartly spotted the evidence quite quickly. Firstly, this is not how big tech companies like Facebook operate. They make lots of money and yes, some companies do give away lots of it to good causes but not to total strangers on Facebook. And if this was in fact true how can they afford to give these amounts to each of their 400 million users? It’s just not credible.

Then, yet again, is the commonest clue. If this story was true why would they give a email address? Surely if Facebook was giving away cash they’d ask you to contact someone with a email address?

There’s no doubt that this would turn out to be yet another “419” or “advance fee” scam. At some point just before you thought you were going to get the money there would be a last minute fee the scammers would demand you pay, as always by Western Union, and as soon as you paid that they’d be gone.

All Voice readers should beware of emails like this. They’re all fake and the best thing you can do is delete them immediately you receive them.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I bought a Megapedic bed last year November for P2,199 which was advertised with 12 months warranty but on the bed it is written 25 years warranty. After only 4 months I went back to the store to complain because it was making a lot of noise but they told me that their beds have only a 1 month guarantee and then later told me that their beds do not have any guarantee or warranty at all.

Please I need your help

No, no, no and NO again. This is completely unacceptable. It is improper and illegal. It clearly contravenes Section 17 (1) (d) of the Consumer Protection Regulations which state that it is an “unfair business practice” if a company causes “a probability of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the legal rights, obligations, or remedies of a party to a transaction”.

Section 17 (1) (e) also forbids a store from “disclaiming or limiting the implied warranty of merchantability and fitness for use, unless a disclaimer is clearly and conspicuously disclosed”.

Finally, Section 17 (1) (f) of the Regulations forbids a store from “entering into a transaction in which the consumer waives or purports to waive a right, benefit or immunity provided by law, unless the waiver is clearly stated and the consumer has specifically consented to it”.

Did you sign an agreement, before you paid for the bed, saying that you were happy for any warranty to be ignored? No? Then the store have abused you and are trying to cheat you.

I suggest you go back to the store, show them this edition of The Voice and say that unless they act in accordance with the law IMMEDIATELY, their name will appear in the next edition.

A warning

More and more of us have cellphone contracts that include internet access as part of the deal. As well as free call minutes and SMSs these packages also include an amount of data that you can download for free. Mine for instance allows me to download up to 150MB of data each month.

For most of us 150MB each month is more than enough for those occasions when you urgently need to read your mail and you’re not near your normal computer or somewhere with a free wireless network. Luckily most phones that do this sort of thing also have mechanisms to prevent you from exceeding your allowance. Mine, like most, only shows you the subject heading of the emails before it downloads the entire message so you can choose to ignore the ones you don’t want or that might contain huge attachments.

However this can occasionally go horribly wrong. We heard from a customer last week who instead of receiving his normal monthly bill of around P400 was shocked to get one for over P20,000, just for one month. Looking at the contract he was on this is actually possible. The danger is that once you reach your limit of perhaps 150MB every other megabyte is charged at something between P1 and P3. All he needed to do was to download a couple of feature films and he could easily reach this sort of amount.

The cellphone company are still researching this particular case but the lesson is simple. Read and UNDERSTAND your mobile data contract BEFORE you start using it for anything other than everyday emails!

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