An email came in saying:
"I bought 2 wheel caps from a dealer last week and it happened that they are of the wrong size. Now I wanted to return them but they are refusing to take them back. What can I do?"Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations requires commodities and services to be "of merchantable quality", defined as "fit for the purposes for which commodities of that kind are usually purchased". That covers things like manufacturing faults. Also, Section 13 (1) (c) says that new means new, not second hand or used, so if the goods are returned the store will undoubtedly lose money if they sell them again.
Did the supplier do anything wrong here? There was no obvious deception and no product faults or failures. Surely this was the customer's mistake?
There is currently no "right" to return things unless they are faulty. We all know some stores that allow this but that's just good customer service, not a consumer right.
2. Do they need to register?
"Are there any regulatory guidelines for becoming a weight loss consultant or gym instructor in Botswana? Is one required to be certified for this purpose?"The Botswana Health Professions Act, 2001, regulates "Medical, Dental and Pharmacy Professions" but also covers a range of other para-medical professions:
- "Allied Health Professions" includes Pharmacists, Radiographers, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Opticians, Optometrists, Biomedical Engineers, Clinical Psychologists, Health Inspectors, Laboratory Scientists, Speech Therapists, Audiologists, Dieticians, Orthopaedic Technicians, Pharmacy Technicians, Paramedics, Laboratory Technicians, Dental Therapists and Clinical Officers.
- "Associated Health Professions" includes Chiropodists, Homeopaths, Naturopaths, Osteopaths and Acupuncturists. (We'll overlook the fact that homeopathy and acupuncture are bogus for now.)
"Weight loss consultant" also doesn't appear. So it's not a regulated profession. "Caveat emptor" applies!
3. Get it in writing (yet again)
"I'm working as a carpenter. Someone followed me at work and asked me to take unpaid leave for some days to do something for him. Now he is supposed to pay me he always give me some excuses that he is busy with some projects and he does not have time to pay me."The carpenter is owed P23,000. I asked if there was anything in writing?
"No we had agreements through messages even voice calls."Exhibit B
"About 2 years ago I engaged a building company to make a house plan for me and build it… He charged us P4,200. He insisted we pay the full amount as he needed some of the money to tackle his own things and put in some petrol to go to moshupa to see the plot. I wanted to give him half but he wasn't taking it. Like a moron I sent all the money. Included in was also him taking it to the council for approval. well, he emailed us the plan and it's kinda good BUT he has not taken it to the council. This is the second week of us chasing him and we are lucky if he picks up the phone or if he responds to our texts. Now I would like to know if you know what we can do to get some of our money back since he has not completed our agreement."I asked if there was anything in writing?
"No. All I have is the Western Union receipts for him"Exhibit C
"I gave some guy P165,000 to buy me a car in UK but he bought the wrong one that I did not want. This happened in 2016. He gave me P86,000 last year and promised to pay the rest in September. When the time came for him to give me the balance he showered me with insults and told me he doesn't have money. This guy is in UK and he seem doesn't care when I ask him to pay me. What is your advice? please help me!"I asked if there was anything in writing?
"All I have is bank transfer receipts."So what's the lesson? Get things in writing. Every single time. It doesn't matter how big or small it is, if you're buying or selling something, get it in writing.
4. Insurance excess payments
"I have a car insurance which was recommended by [vehicle finance company]. About 2 months ago the car was involved in an accident, we took quotations from [repair workshop] to the insurance company and they approved. [repair workshop] told us to bring the car for fixing, yesterday they called saying the car is ready and we have to pay P5,000 excess as the insurance did not cover that. We were shocked as we were not told this before, my husband who has been handling the case went to the insurance and they told him that the premium that I chose I have to pay the excess fee. I know you always blame us for not reading contracts but the one I signed doesn't have that clause. Please help me out what do I do in this situation??"Almost all insurance policies, whether they're vehicle, household policies or anything else have an excess payment. That's an amount that the customer is required to pay before the insurance company pays the rest. Insurance companies use these excess amounts to stop customers making trivial claims. For instance, if your excess amount is P3,000 and you have an accident that costs P1,000 to repair, you pay it all. However, if the damage costs P10,000, you pay P3,000 and the insurance company will pay the remaining P7,000. If the damage is P100,000, they'll pay P97,000.
The first lesson is to shop around. Usually, the higher the monthly premium you pay for an insurance policy, the lower the excess will be. A low premium policy will often offer a much higher excess. It's a balancing act, a decision to consider before choosing a policy.
In this case, the document the Customer had was a renewal notice, not the actual policy. We contacted the insurance company and they confirmed that the customer had signed for policy document that contains the excess clause. The second lesson is simple. Read all agreements and do NOT sign them until you completely understand them.