Friday, 2 September 2016

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay?

I bought a laptop on high purchase and it got stolen from my house as it was broken into while we were away attending a relative's funeral. However I reported the issue to the shop and was asked to submit all the necessary documents from the police as proof of theft. An officer from the store also called in at my house to do assessment for further verification of theft.

I was then asked to wait while the necessary procedures are done hence be given a replacement thereafter; that was in June 2015. Up to now I haven't received any response from the store but rather I recently received a phone call from a debt collector's office that I am owing the shop money and that I am requested to pay such monies or I will face some repossession. I'm asking for your help with regard to this?

One thing you don’t mention is whether you were in arrears at the time the laptop was stolen from your house. If you were in arrears at that time, then the small print in the hire purchase agreement you signed will say that the insurance cover isn’t there any longer. That’s normal. The insurance doesn’t apply if you’ve fallen behind with your payments.

Unfortunately, this would even be true if the laptop was stolen. That’s one of the most horrible aspects of buying things on hire purchase. Even if the items you bought are stolen, damaged or destroyed, you still have to keep making the payments. Worse than that, if the goods are repossessed you’ll still owe the store money. Repossessed items are usually sold for a tiny fraction of the amount you pay for them and that’s deducted from the balance you owe but that will inevitably leave a lot that you still owe. When you add on interest, penalty charges, debt collection fees and all the other charges the store will add you can end up owing a fortune, many times more than the original value of the items you bought. It’s one of the many reasons hire purchase is such a horrible way to buy things.

We’ll get in touch with the store for you and see what they can tell us and if they can help.

Is this a real job?

I have been searching for a job overseas and recently got an email offer from Duke Energy. They offer me $8,500 per month and other benefits but they want me to pay a visa fee. It seems to good to be true, gut feeling, and I will gladly appreciate it if you could help me.

I’m sorry but this is certainly an advance fee scam. There are several clues.

Although Duke Energy is a genuine company based in North Carolina, USA, this is not who you’ve been dealing with.

To begin with, the various email addresses they been using to contact you aren’t what you would expect (, Someone who really worked for Duke Energy would have emailed you from

The quality of language used is often also a good clue. Do you really think a genuine, professional American company would say “We are satisfied working with you and also keen to the interesting answers given to the interview questions that were sent to you for this employment"?

Most importantly, this is not how real companies hire staff. Real companies always insist on a face-to-face interview with anyone they want to employ. International recruitment companies will often use something like Skype initially but there will always be a traditional face-to-face interview. In your case they say they selected you for a high-paid job using no more than an emailed questionnaire? That’s not how things works in real life.

Another fact is that companies looking to hire people always pay for everything. Recruits never pay anything. Never.

I know it sounds tempting (it’s meant to), but the offer they made you is simply unbelievable. They said they’ll offer you $8,500 per month, free accommodation, medical care, family education, airfares, shipping costs, savings investment plan, medical insurance, dental insurance, vision care insurance, life insurance, disability cover, social and recreational facilities and a vehicle. All to someone they had never actually met? I don’t think so.

What they are seeking is the visa fee they demand you pay. That is the “advance fee” that gives the scam its name.

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