Friday, 18 February 2011

Books and covers

Can you judge a book by it’s cover? Is the first impression you make of something always a good indicator of quality?

For instance, can you judge a store by it’s appearance? I know plenty of companies (buy me a coffee and I’ll name them) that look and sound remarkably swish but when it comes to quality and service they suck.

I’m thinking of a certain car company that we criticised last year. There’s nothing wrong with their vehicles, I’ve even owned one myself in the past. In their case I think we got a glimpse of the real thing when I criticised one of their foreign dealers (who treated a customer from Botswana like dirt) only to receive a letter from their lawyers demanding that I apologise, beg forgiveness and promise always to say nice things about them in future.

Needless to say I told them where to stick their threats and we haven’t heard from them since. In case you’re interested the entire history of this saga can be seen on the Consumer Watchdog blog.

But it’s not just car companies.

What about colleges and universities? Can you judge them by their appearance? There are plenty of educational establishments that seem to be real universities and colleges but when you take a closer look you find that they’re just scams. Of course I don’t mean any here in Botswana, Oh No, heaven forbid.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the completely silly so-called “Belford University” that awards, sorry, sells degrees to anyone with a few hundred dollars. It was from this bunch of crooks, who have nothing more than web-site and telephone number, that I stole (yes, I confess) a doctorate degree certificate and made myself a Doctor of Medicine.

Incidentally you might think that Belford University isn’t relevant in Botswana? Not so. Last week I got an urgent email one afternoon from a manager in an organisation here who said he was interviewing a candidate for a job the following day and had just noticed in his qualifications a degree from Belford. He’d heard us speaking about them and could I confirm that degree was fake? I certainly could. Who knows how many other candidates for jobs are claiming to have fake degrees? Think about the doctor in SA last week who turned out to be a fake.

Here’s a free service from Consumer Watchdog to the business community. I’ve posted a link on our blog and web site to a Wikipedia site that lists all the commonly used non-accredited universities.

I’ve been pestered recently by another bunch of diploma printers calling themselves the “Northern Ireland Institute of Business and Technology (British)”.

It started a long time ago when a reader contacted us after receiving the following email:
“Dear Friend,
We are updating our record and found that you still have not yet enrolled for the Great British NIIBT degree programme. We will be removing and destroy your name from our record if we do not hear from you again. Please keep us inform if you are organising the enrolment and payment for your degree programme with NIIBT the Great British. We look forward to hearing from you soon.”
Shame that this “Great British” institution can’t string a sentence together in English.

That’s probably because they’re not even remotely British. I know, I checked. Their web site repeatedly refers to them as being “British” but claims their campus is in Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland. Strangely no such company is registered in either the UK or Ireland. Their contact details are in Malaysia which seems strangely un-British to me. These charlatans clearly shouldn’t offer fake degrees in Geography.

I originally reported on these crooks in April last year but it took them until this month to notice. That’s strange given that our report was one of the main hits on Google if you search for them. They eventually sent me a very long, rambling email that didn't actually address any of my criticisms so there's no point in repeating it all. However here are some highlights:
"Northern Ireland Institute of Business and Technology (British) is incorporated in British Crown Territory" (This means precisely nothing. What does "British Crown Territory" mean?)

"NIIBT intend to maintain the prestigious business campus in Ireland". (Rubbish, they don't have a campus in Ireland, they don't even EXIST in Ireland.)
I won’t bore you with the email I sent them pointing out their appalling English, their fake accreditation, their fake addresses, their lack of company registration anywhere they claimed to exist and politely told them to insert their email where the sun doesn’t shine.

That’s when it became amusing. Their response was simple. They said:
“FBI is watching your uncorrectable behavior. You better watch out!!!”
When I asked if they were serious they replied:
"It is serious. To avoid unforeseen serious consequence will come after you; you are urged to remove the slanderous comment on us from your consumer Watchdog blog. You are warned not to use the slanderous article as the cover for your Watchdog blog."
I’m not sure what these serious consequences might be, but I’ll let you know if I go bald or a tooth drops out.

Meanwhile you’ll notice that we haven’t stopped talking about them and nor will we.


We’ve had a web site for years and a Facebook page for a while but now we’re tweeting from @ConsumerWatchBW. Follow us for scam alerts and who knows what else!

This week’s stars
  • Standard Chartered Bank for not only offering customers evening opening at Game City but are also open on Sundays! Is this a first? A bank actually doing something to benefit their customers?

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