Monday, 16 May 2011

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I have just received an e-mail claiming to be from Paypal. I have never used Paypal before, however I have paid for tickets, accommodation online using my credit card. Shouldn’t the alert be coming from my bank?

How genuine is this? Please assist.

You’re absolutely right to be skeptical about this email. The obvious clue is that you’ve never used Paypal so why would they be contacting you?

For readers who don’t know, Paypal is an online payment mechanism that allows you to safely purchase products on the internet. It’s a very useful way of buying things, I’ve even used it myself once or twice.

However, what you’ve received is nothing to do with Paypal at all. This is what they call a “phishing” scam. There was a link in your email that said “Log In to Your Account Now.” That link in fact went nowhere near Paypal and instead linked to a hijacked web site that pretended to be the Paypal login page.

What you saw if you clicked on the link was remarkably convincing. It looked just like the real Paypal page. It asked for your email address and Paypal password and if you were unwise enough to enter these details you can rest assured within moments a scammer would have used them to sign on to your real Paypal page and raid your account.

Of course you don’t have an account but if they emailed a million people and only 1% of people did have an account and only 1% of them fell for it then that’s still a hundred victims who’ve just handed their Paypal account to a crook.

The danger from these scams is very significant. According to a Gartner Group report in the year ending August 2007 3.6 million Americans lost a total of $3.2 billion to these phishing attacks.

You should always look very closely at the web address you visit BEFORE you enter any personal details onto a web page. Make sure that it looks right and if you have the slightest doubt, don’t enter your details. Above all NEVER click on a link in an email to a bank or financial web site. Always type it on yourself and then save it in your Favourites.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I purchased a 1.2m cable from a local store to connect my laptop to my TV. When I first plugged in I was a little surprised that I could not get things into the right position. After some time of putting up with this inconvenience, I decided to measure the cable; it is barely a meter long!

I decided to take it back and see if the store had one slightly longer – even the quoted 1.2 meters would make life easier. At the service area I was asked: “If you thought it was short – why did you open the packet? You could have measured it first”.

When I spoke to the manager I was told: “We have a two week returns policy” and that “I cannot help you!”

I realize that I am outside their 2 week returns policy but the fact remains, the cable does not match its description which is clearly shown on the outside of the packaging.

Can you either suggest what I might do to obtain the item in its correct length or is there someone that may be able to look into this further for me?

Clearly they are wrong in a variety of ways. At the simplest level they broke their contract with you. They gave you something that you did not buy and something inferior as well.

They also broke Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations 2001 which states that:
“Any supplier who offers a commodity or service to a consumer fails to meet minimum standards and specifications if … the commodity sold … does not match any sample or description given to the consumer.”
They've probably broken some of the other regulations as well but that’s the big one.

The 2 weeks return period is also a nonsense. That can only be enforceable if you knowingly and "specifically consented" to such a thing, before you handed over the cash.

Please give us the name of the store and we’ll get in touch and see what they can do to remedy the situation.

Update – the shipping company

We reported last week on a shipping company in SA who were transporting some furniture for a customer in Botswana last August. Unfortunately their truck crashed and all of her furniture was destroyed. They’ve been stalling her ever since she asked for compensation. She assumed they were insured.

We got in touch with the shipping company and asked for their feedback. So far it’s not so good.

Their response went like this (these are the highlights):
“We are not willing to take liability of this shipment as we were not aware of the existence of that shipment on our vehicle that had the accident … only the driver and the operations manager knew about the shipment being on board the vehicle … we are not liable for the loss of this shipment.”
In other words they don’t give a damn, they don’t see that it was their truck, their staff and their business that destroyed her property. Above all it’s their responsibility.

We’re not giving up on this one. We’ll keep you updated on progress.

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