Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

We received a lengthy email from a consumer who had a problem with the “Blackberry” smart-phone she recently bought. Even though she had originally wanted a Nokia E73 the store owner had instead sold her a Blackberry 9700. However very soon after buying the phone she tells us she “realised that the phone is not user friendly” so she decided to take it back for a refund.

Apparently at the store “there is a written rule that in-case you want to exchange the phone you can bring it back within two days provided you have to pay 20% handling charges which is P180”. Despite this the staff in the store refused to exchange the phone when she took it back.

Anyone who knows about Blackberry phones will probably have sensed something fishy about this story by now. Aren’t Blackberry phones renowned for being easy to use? Aren’t Blackberry users almost as passionate about their devices as Apple iPhone users are about theirs? Don’t you get excellent service when you buy something this fancy?

So what is it that’s missing from this story that will help us understand the situation?

The price.

Our reader had bought this so-called Blackberry for the massive sum of P800. What’s more the “Blackberry “ she purchased is a dual-SIM card version of the phone, a feature that Blackberry manufacturers themselves don’t mention anywhere. She bought this from a “Chinese store” in Oriental Plaza in Gaborone.

Yes, she bought a fake.

There is no such thing as a dual-SIM Blackberry 9700. There is no such thing as a new Blackberry phone of ANY type that you can buy for P800. There is no such thing as a genuine Blackberry phone being sold at Oriental Plaza.

Ironically towards the end of her email the reader says:
“This issue of cell phones being sold by Chinese shops have escalated at high rate and many people are being deceived by this shop owners. We need to be protected as consumers as we are quite aware that they are not originals yet they should be some form of compromise in such kind of issues especial when something is still new.”
Go back and read that again. Did you see where she says “we are quite aware that they are not originals”? She knew this was a fake phone all along.

Let’s get this clear. If someone knowingly buy a FAKE phone they should KNOW that they will get no support. If they had tried to persuade her that it was genuine then clearly they can be prosecuted but if both she and the store knew it was a fake when it was purchased then they are guilty as each other.

I don’t think I’m being too unsympathetic by saying that people who knowingly buy fake goods don’t really deserve much sympathy. If you want a cheap phone there are plenty of legitimate phones available in cellphone stores all over the country that will come with a range of functions better than a fake Blackberry, you’ll get a warranty for nothing extra and the store, being the type that doesn’t sell fakes, will treat you with a little respect.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

On 2nd April I went to Morwa Tombstones after seeing their flyers advertising tombstones. I paid them P5,500 and was told that the stone will be delivered on the 14th May. I called on the 14th May and was told that part of the stone has arrived but the other part was expected in 3 days. After 3 days when I called the manager’s phone was off, I tried the other number and was told that the manager is the only one who can help me and that she has not come to the shop recently. Even to this day I have been trying to get hold of the manager to no avail. The shop assistant told me several people are also looking for her and she doesn’t know where she is. I have got the receipts but I am now becoming worried. What should I do?

We tried calling the owner as well but had the same bad luck as you. Our advice would be to go to the police and lay a charge against the owner and see what she feels like when the cops turn up at her house demanding an explanation.

Update: The consumer did indeed go to the police and apparently she was not the first person to complain about this particular company. There are many people also chasing Morwa Tombstones to get their money back. Steer clear of them!

New Era Travel update

Readers may remember the problem with New Era Travel who took money from various consumers but never actually booked the tickets or hotels they had been paid to do. It then took endless trips to the Police and finally the Small Claims Court for them to get their money back.

We heard from one of the victims that she is still owed P3,000 by New Era “and it is proving hard to get”. This customer is taking her claim to the Small Claims Court as well this week.

The lesson? New Era Travel in the Craft Workshop in Broadhurst Industrial simply cannot be trusted with your money. Don’t give them any!

Facebook update

You can now keep up-to-date with Consumer Watchdog news articles, warnings, alerts and celebrations on our Facebook group. Just go to Facebook and search for “Consumer Watchdog Botswana” to find us.

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