Thursday 11 November 2010

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

When u visit many stores or super markets, prices are not marked and its difficult to make decision on what to buy without asking shop assistant. The issue is, we don't want to be asking anyone as to the prices of items in the shop but we want to have prices marked clearly. Please, what can we do in such cases?

You can demand to see the manager or owner of the store and ask him or her how they expect consumers to buy things if they don’t know what they cost. I really think we have a right to know as we walk around a store roughly what we’re going to be expected to pay at the checkout. We also have a right to see if things are massively overpriced, or indeed are being offered at a bargain price. I suggest if you see this happening again you just tell the manager that you’ll take your money elsewhere unless it’s fixed.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I received this email and wonder if it can be trusted?

“Dear Sir/Madam,
Gold Dust and Bar for Sale offer.
Our specifications are below:
Product: Alluvial gold dust
Quantity: 248 Kilograms
Quality: 23+ Carat
Purity: 97.5%
Price: USD$ 26,000 per kg
Origin: Ghana

For FCO details information, kindly contact us.

Yours Sincerely,
Joyce Adu
Traditional Royal Mining Company Ltd
15/16 Tarkwa Mining Estate
This has to be a scam. Why would a genuine gold mining company contact total strangers offering them gold? Why would such a company use a email address? Why would such a company leave no trace on the internet? Do a Google search for “Traditional Royal Mining Company Ltd” and you find precisely zero results. It’s the same for the address as well.

This has all the hallmarks (yes, that’s a joke) of a scam. A 23 carat one!

Dear Consumer's Voice #3

We got an email from a consumer who had recently bought what she thought was a brand new Blackberry Bold 9700 from a cellphone store at Riverwalk shopping centre in Gaborone. She spent an enormous P5,600 on this device so she had a perfectly reasonable right to expect it to be beautiful, sexy and adorable.

Well it would have been if it hadn’t come already full of someone else’s pictures and video clips, in a beaten up box and with the word “T-Mobile” written all over it. In case you don’t know T-Mobile is a cellphone network provider that operates in the USA and UK. Quite how this phone came to be sold in Botswana is still a mystery. However it was pretty easy to find out that T-Mobile in the USA actually sells refurbished phones to the public. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that, second hand products can be a remarkably cheap option if you want to save a bit of money. The problem is buying a refurbished phone and then selling it on as brand new. That’s so naughty that’s it’s illegal.

We contacted the store that had sold her the second-hand phone and asked them what they were planning to do about the situation. They suggested that the customer, accompanied by Consumer Watchdog, should visit the Technical Manager to discuss the situation. Sorry, not good enough, not even nearly good enough. At that stage I don’t think the store realised just how badly they had abused this customer and the law. So we called them and demanded a better solution. As I write this the agreement is that the consumer will take the phone back to the store and receive a complete refund. I’m reasonably confident that they will in fact offer a refund, so confident in fact that I don’t think it’s necessary at this stage to either name the store in question or to post the recording we made of the conversation on to our web site.

But things can change. Do you think the store owner understands this? Rest assured that if he doesn’t fix this pretty damned quickly it won’t just be the Small Claims Court, the Ministry of Trade, the City Council and the boys and girls in blue who’ll be on their case, it will be the irresistible force they’ll need to deal with. The Voice!

Scam update

Make sure you visit our Facebook Group and join in the fun we’re having with scammers. We’ve given up being Mr and Mrs Nice Guy and are taking the battle back to them. Remember that scammers are low-down, lying, cheating scumbags who deserve to be abused as well as prosecuted. There is no duty to be polite to such people. We’re posting the cellphone numbers of all the scammers we come across and ask you to spend P1 to send them the rudest, most insulting SMS you can think of. Who knows, there might even be a prize for the funniest SMS sent!

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