Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I got an email from Belford University saying that I was eligible for a “Special Scholarship Offer”. They said I will get “an exclusive 10% discount on the tuition fee if you enrol in any program at Belford University during this season.”

I went to their web site and it said I can get a degree for $549? Can this be true? Can I trust these people?

Yes, you can trust them to steal your money and give you nothing of value in return. That’s because “Belford University” is not a real university. It’s a scam.

Unlike a real university, Belford University apparently has nothing more than a web site, a post box and a telephone number. No buildings, no lecturers, nothing at all that looks like a real university. Their web site says that they are an accredited university but the accreditation bodies they say have accredited them are, in fact, not recognised accreditation bodies. It’s a bit like saying the Consumer Watchdog University has been accredited by Consumer Watchdog Accreditation Service. It’s easy to say but it doesn’t make it mean anything.

Their web site is full of extraordinary things. On their front page they proudly say:
Add bachelor's, master's or doctorate degrees to your resume in just 15 days and open avenues to promotion and better jobs!”
Any degree that can be obtained in 15 days is fake, OK?

They also proudly say that:
“One of our prodigies, Michael Fonseca, has been promoted to the post of Divisional Head for Romuna Securities, a subsidiary of the Romuna Group.”
That would be nice, if of course either the person or the company actually existed. Neither do. It’s all a lie.

These crooks will sell you anything from a High School Diploma to a Doctorate based on “life experience”, all instantly and online. Of course these degrees are utterly worthless but there is a hint of danger there.

I signed on to their web site and was just one step away from buying myself a PhD in Medicine. The only thing left for me to do was to give my credit card details to them and $924 later I would have become DOCTOR Consumer Watchdog.

Of course just having a piece of paper saying you have a qualification won’t get you a job. Surely all organisations check the authenticity of qualifications before accepting them, don’t they?

No. They most often DON’T check them. All they see is a degree certificate, or what looks like a certified copy of one. I’ve known of several cases here in Botswana of large organisation who eventually find that some of their most senior staff have fake degrees from these “diploma mills”. In almost all of these cases that person is then instantly fired.

So, no, this offer isn’t real and they can’t be trusted and you really don’t want to take the risk of having a fake degree on your CV.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I went to a fashion store at Molapo Crossing around lunch time and I noticed they had some nice shirts, although fake, and I asked for the price on one of the shirts I was interested in and was told by one of the workers that it was P100. She informed me that the price was fixed on the hanger and I was able to confirm this for myself. I told her that I will come back as I had forgotten my wallet in the office.

I was back at the store later to buy the shirt and, to my shock the teller informed me that the shirt was actually P150 and not the P100 indicated on the price tag. I informed her that one of her workers confirmed earlier that the shirt was P100. The teller informed me that it was a mistake and that she would not sell it for P100 as she will be making a loss. I told her that I drove all the way from Block 8 to her shop to buy the shirt and that had I known it to be P150 I wouldn’t have bothered. She said it was not her problem and I was disturbing her and unless I was prepared to pay the P150 I must go. I told her that I had been misled and that she was rude towards me as a customer. She told me she didn’t need me and ‘maybe 1, 2, 3, 4, members of your family as customers’. I informed her that I knew my rights and that I was going to take this up with Consumer Watchdog and even shame her on radio. She said she didn’t care and I could go anywhere I wanted.

Technically neither rudeness nor poor service is against the law.

In this case I suspect that despite the appalling rudeness you report, the complete contempt you were shown and the utter absence of customer care, nothing illegal has actually occurred.

If they had actually tried to charge you P150 while the shirt was still displayed at P100 you might have some sort of case but I suspect that the best thing you can do is never go there again. Just make sure you tell everyone you know about your experience!

And why were you even thinking of buying a fake?

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