Saturday, 29 June 2013

Never stop questioning

You can never ask enough questions. You can certainly never ask enough questions when money is concerned.

Let’s take a real example. Let’s imagine that the reader who contacted me on Facebook last week had asked a single question before signing the credit agreement she used to buy furniture. Let’s imagine she had asked, “Can I afford it?”

No, sorry, silly me, the store would have avoided answering that question because they don’t actually give a damn.

The question she SHOULD have asked is “What will happen if you repossess the furniture because I can’t afford the repayments any longer?”

What they would have told her (if they felt like being honest) is “Well, in that case you’re screwed.” If she’d insisted on more details they might have told her that if she had difficulties halfway through the 2-year repayment period they’d come along, take the furniture away and forget to tell her that she still owed them at least the entire cash price of the things she bought.

This is how it works. If you buy furniture for P3,000 the total credit price will probably be around twice that, sometimes even more. However let’s assume that the credit price was P6,000. Halfway through the 2-years of repayments the goods are repossessed and sold. Given that the furniture was cheap rubbish to begin with, is now second-hand and is sold in a fake auction within the company to staff members, it will probably only raise a small amount. Let’s say it sells for P500. That still leaves an outstanding balance of P2,500. Add on to that the interest they’ll no doubt charge you and within weeks you’ll owe the company P3,000 again. Add on some more interest as they conveniently forget to remind you about the debt and before you know it a debt collector will be chasing after P6,000. And you still have no furniture.

If only she’d asked before.

You should also ask about cancellations. Last year we were ready to welcome John C Maxwell, a supposedly acclaimed public speaker on leadership. Unfortunately shortly before it was due to occur the conference was postponed due to the weather and was rearranged earlier this year. When they postponed the conference they emailed the potential attendees saying:
“all delegates that have registered and paid for the subject conference will be able to participate in a half-day motivational leadership session with Dr. David Molapo on Monday 12th November 2012, still at Gaborone International Convention Centre. All teas, sandwiches, coffees and lunch will be complimentary. Although this conference is free of charge, kindly note that Dr. Molapo’s latest books, CD’s and DVD’s will be available for purchase.”

“Additionally, the same delegates who have registered and paid will automatically qualify to participate at no additional cost in the upcoming March 2013 Leadership Conference with Drs. John C. Maxwell and David Molapo.”
Note what they said: “this conference is free of charge”, meaning the half-day motivational leadership session. Unfortunately one of the delegates had a problem. She couldn’t attend on the new date. She contacted the organisers explaining this and their response was simple. Because she attended the “free of charge” conference with Molapo she was, in their opinion, now irreversibly committed to the re-arranged conference with Maxwell. No, she could NOT have a refund. Not even a little one.

This is, of course, nonsense. At no point did she accept that attending the Molapo session committed her to the Maxwell one. She didn’t sign anything agreeing to that.

So she did the best possible thing. She went to the Small Claims Court and they gave her the go-ahead to demand a refund from the organisers. It’s just a shame they don’t want to do the decent thing and give her the money they owe her.

If only she’d asked before.

Another issue. Universities. I think we all know by now that plenty of “universities” you find on the web aren’t even close to being genuine. They’re just web site that sell fake degrees. But it’s not always as simple as that.

You may have seen advertisements for Cyprus International University in various newspapers recently. I must start by saying that CIU is NOT a fake university. It’s real. It has buildings, lecturers and accommodation. Students at CIU sit exams, do coursework and possibly even fail. It’s a real university.

But it’s not in a real country.

A little background. The Mediterranean island of Cyprus is divided into two parts. The nation called Cyprus is a real nation, a sovereign nation with a seat at the United Nations, recognised by everyone in the world. However in 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus and after a bloody war declared the northern part of Cyprus as "the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus". This so-called Republic is not recognised by any country other than Turkey.

That is where Cyprus International University is located, in an illegally occupied and unrecognised region of a legitimate nation.

For me this calls into question whether any university there can be properly accredited. When someone with a degree from CIU is asked where they obtained it they have to tell an incomplete truth. They can truthfully say that they got their degree “on the island of Cyprus” but not actually REALLY in Cyprus? Who’s going to accept that?

So while I accept it’s a real university, would I want a child of mine to study there? Not a chance. I’d like them to have qualifications that would make their lives simpler, not more complicated.

So the lesson? Ask questions. Then ask some more. Then give it a moments thought and ask even more. Then go back the next day and ask more. In fact don’t stop until you are certain you know everything you need to know. And don’t stop even then.

No comments: