Friday, 28 October 2011

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

There is a company calling itself SADC Yellow Pages. Someone calls from South Africa with the details of the manager. What they will then request is to do you a free artwork to see if you will be interested in placing your company in the directory. The person insists that they fax you the request for a free artwork form while you hold. As you do that, she tells you to sign at the bottom and fax it back to her. You are then promised to be sent the artwork for proof reading. The next time you will receive an invoice. The last time they did it they used the name SADC Directories. They have now returned calling themselves SADC Yellow Pages.

We’ve had a number of people contact us about this company and we even got several calls from them ourselves. They called themselves "Yellow Pages Botswana" or "Business Directories Botswana" or "SADC Yellow Pages". I eventually spoke to their representative who asked if I was interested in "updating" our entry in their directory.

"But we don't have one", I told her. "Yes, you do, we put you in for free, under Business Training", she said. She was wrong, there is no "Business Training" section in their online directory. So the offer of an "update" qualifies is either a mistake or a lie, surely? I thought the most interesting thing was that they didn’t know my full name, they just called me “Richard H”. The other curious thing is that they claimed we had an entry in their directory last year. How can that be when the company called “SADC Yellow Pages” was only registered in South Africa on 15th September 2010?

Needless to say there's money involved. When you sign their form you commit to paying P295 per month for an entire year but you need to visit their web site (perhaps the most revolting web site I've seen in ages) to see the terms and conditions. These say that:
"The agreement shall commence on the date of signature and remain in force for a period of one year. Thereafter the agreement shall continue for an indefinite period unless notice is given one month prior to the expiry of the initial period."
I think that this is deceptive but let's be charitable, maybe they're just mistaken when they claim companies have existing entries that can be updated? And anyway, who ever actually looks at an online directory? Do you?

My suggestion is simple. Tell them that you’re not interested and that they shouldn’t ever call you again.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I bought a bed in 2009 and paid for it in full before I took it. I then put it in storage until I moved into my own house this year in August. This was when I unwrapped the bed to sleep on it only to find that the base of the bed is bigger than the mattress. I made the shop aware of this and they told me that the bed I had bought was no longer being made by the manufacturer and that I should go see them and choose a new bed, to replace the one I had bought. Today I went to view the beds and they want me to pay the difference of P1,000, between the bed I had bought and the one they are replacing it with.

I really don’t know if this is the right way to go about it, I just wanted to know if I should incur the extra charges that arose.

I suspect there's not much you can do with this situation. When you buy something you have a reasonable chance to check that it’s correct and if not the store has an obligation to fix the problem if they caused the mix-up. Unfortunately you surely have to do this within a reasonable time and waiting for 2 years and then expecting the store to fix the problem is asking too much. In fact by offering you a deal like this I suspect you’re being treated pretty fairly by the store.

Sorry not to have better news.

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