Friday, 1 June 2012

Questions and answers

There are some questions that keep on coming up, questions that readers keep on asking us, questions that we need to answer over and over again. It’s time to answer them again.

Q. Is it possible to get a degree based on “life experience”?

Several readers have asked this recently. They want to get a degree to help them get a better job, a promotion or to get them onto the Board of a national institution or company. Instead of getting a qualification the hard way, they get the idea instead that they can do it over the internet based on their life experience. They seem to think that because they’ve been working for a long time this is a shortcut to getting a Bachelor, Masters or Doctoral degree. This is made a lot easier for them because of the large number of seemingly legitimate web-based “universities” with impressive names like Rochville, Belford, Ashwood, Headway and Mcford. In fact they’re all fakes.

All of these fake universities offer their degrees for no more than a credit card payment and claim you can get your fake degree within days of payment. No examinations, no coursework, no dissertations, the only work you have to do is type in your credit card number. They are as fake as the degrees they offer, as fake as the people who buy these bogus qualifications.

In fact most of the popular fake universities are all part of a single organization operating out of Karachi in Pakistan. You can see a list of these Pakistani fakes on our blog.

So the answer is no, you can’t get a degree this way. No real university offers degrees based on life experience.

Q. Can you trust import car firms?

It depends on the firm in question and how they operate. You have to consider where the car is when you buy it. If the car is on a forecourt here in Botswana then at least you see it, sit in it and take it for a test drive. You can get your friend the mechanic to take a look at it for you.

However the more risky type of business is the online car importer. These show you the details of a car on the web while it’s in storage in another country. In these cases how can you evaluate the car before you buy it? You can’t take it for a test drive, you can’t inspect it, you can’t even be sure that the car you choose is the car that’ll be delivered. Given that all of these companies demand full payment before they ship the vehicle, what can you do if they send you the wrong car? What action can you possibly take? You have the wrong car and strangers in a foreign land have your money.

I’m skeptical about whether buying a car from overseas is a good idea. I would only ever suggest you buy a car you have driven yourself and that has been inspected by someone you trust to act on your behalf. Even then you need to ask about how the vehicle will be maintained if it’s come from a country far away. Friends of mine still drive a fancy 4x4 from Japan whose radio still talks to them in Japanese. Nobody seems to be able to fix that. Do you want that?

Q. Should I stop paying for my store credit purchases?

No. Never. No matter how the store has behaved, however badly they have let you down, even if you think the world is going to end, don’t stop your credit repayments.

The critical thing to understand about buying items on credit is that once you sign the deal you are committed to making the payments for the entire duration of the deal. There will be no getting out of it. The items you bought are entirely unconnected with the payments you make. Think of it like this. If you’d got a loan from your bank to buy a computer and that computer was later stolen, would you be entitled to stop repaying your bank loan? Of course not, the bank would have you in court within moments. It’s the same with store credit. If you stop repaying you’ll be the one in trouble.

If a problem occurs with your purchases complain vigorously to the store and demand they fix it. Give them no other option. Just keep paying them what you agreed to pay.

Q. Is there such a thing as “passive income”?

Only if you are exceptionally wealthy and exceptionally lucky. “Passive income” is a term used by multi-level marketing companies and their cousins, pyramid schemes, to catch you in their net. They suggest that once you’re in their scheme large amounts of money will just flow to you as if by magic from the people you recruited and the pyramid of gullible fools who they recruited beneath them.

Of course this is nonsense. Multi-level marketing companies like Amway and Herbalife confess in the statements they are forced to disclose each year in the USA that the VAST majority of their distributors make no profit at all. As for the victims of pyramid schemes, they’re just screwed.

Q. Can I make money from High Yield Investment Plans?

No. HYIPs are just fronts for Ponzi schemes. They promise you astronomical financial returns from your investments but they lying, it’s not true. Any money you get will be from the “investments” of later victims. What they want, and what you won’t get back, is your initial payment. They’ll pretend to give you massive interest payments and they might even give you a few small trivial payments to keep you happy but remember this: they still have your initial payment and they plan on keeping most, if not all, of it.

Q. Are emails from strangers offering me money, jobs or love genuine?

No. Don’t be silly.

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