Friday, 10 September 2010

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

Hey I am an independent consultant and I met his guy through Linked In website, claiming that he is also in the consulting business and has potential projects here in Botswana and has been wishing to go in partnership with someone in Botswana. Naturally, I jumped into the opportunity.

What made me suspicious is that our dialogue has lately drifted from business to personal. I use Skype for my professional chats and for the past week, this guy has struggled when I asked that we do video conferencing with my other colleagues so that as a team we can get to know him better. Up to now, his webcam has failed to work.

I have wanted him to send me something tangible because my instincts tell me that I should talk to the "watchdog"!

Now he says he is flying to southern Africa to see us and he wants me to refund him part of the money as we are talking about a business partnership.

I do not want to lose my money over a scam.

Can you check if the ticket is genuine? I have tried to Google the travel agency that sent me this ticket but could not find it. I have promised him a response by Monday so that I give you time to research and give me an informed answer.

You are right to be cautious. Firstly, the ticket states that the customer paid by cash but responsible airlines do NOT normally take cash payments these days. There are rigorous rules in place to prevent money laundering and any real airline would not accept this. The KLM web site says that they only accept cash if you are actually in their home country, in the Netherlands. However they DO accept payment by Western Union which I suspect is what this scammer will want.

I also don't think that it's likely that serious business people, like this guy claims to be, and who fly around the world Business Class use Yahoo email addresses and prepaid cellphone numbers as their primary contacts.

Then there is the nature of the trip he plans to take. His flight schedule takes him from London to Amsterdam, then to Johannesburg and then to Cape Town. Why on earth would he take such a bizarre route when he can fly directly to Joburg and Cape Town from London? I think it’s just a way of raising the supposed fair so they can get you to offer them more money.

Then there is an obvious clue – the booking agent uses an email address that isn’t actually from KLM.

The thing I found most curious about your issue is that the flight booking was actually genuine. It gives a booking reference number and you can use this to log onto the KLM web site and see that the flight has actually been booked. Something clearly didn’t add up so I got in touch with KLM in Amsterdam and asked them if they could investigate. They came back to us very quickly confirming that an online booking had been made but that the real person named hadn’t actually made it and that they had advised him to contact the police in the UK.

You were very wise to be skeptical! Readers of The Voice should follow your example!

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I was recently in a store at Game City and when I left the lady at the door wanted to search my bag. When I asked her why, she did not tell me the reason for them doing so but said that they have told people that if they do not want their bags searched they will report them to the police.

I am wondering what the law says about searching personal bags when one leaves a shop.

I don't know of any law that specifically covers this but I suspect what they are doing IS perfectly legal.

You have to remember that shops are private property and permission to enter is at the discretion of the management. While you are in the store they are entitled to monitor your behaviour, particularly given the level of shop-lifting that occurs these days.

However, I DO think there are ways of dealing with this that explain the situation to customers and that don't cause unnecessary offence. In the past I've personally had arguments with security guards when I've refused to leave my laptop in it's rucksack with them. On one occasion a couple of years ago I was so angry I just walked out of a bookstore at Riverwalk when this happened and I haven't bought anything from that store since.

I'm sure it's possible for a store to put up a sign at the entrance that politely explains the need for security and perhaps even for the need for bag checks and also to train the guards sufficiently that they don't cause massive offence. Surely it can't be that difficult?

Here’s our gift to stores. Here’s an example of a sign they are free to use.

No comments: