Saturday 26 May 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my bed?

We bought a bed at last year around June. In January the bed was not comfortable so we reported it and they said their vehicle was not available. We kept on reporting but no one showed up. In March I went to see the manager and she said they will sand someone to come get it but that didn’t happen. The first week of May I went there and found another manager and I explained my issue to him. He checked on their records and saw that for real we long reported the issue. He then said the bed we chose was for kids not adults. I was not there when my wife chose it and I don’t know if the sales who was helping her explained that to her. He then promised that he will send someone before end of week and yes they came to fetch it.

Now they are saying the bad is beyond repair and we should fix it with our own money even though we still have a warranty and we are still paying for it and its them who delayed to assist us before their bed got damaged more. We are sleeping on the ground as we speak its a week now. Now they are planning to give us second hand bad while still paying. Can you help us on how to resolve this issue?

This is a complicated one. Firstly, I’m glad you kept paying your instalments because that’s a common mistake that people make. They think that because they no longer have the goods they can stop paying but that’s a huge mistake. When you stop paying you immediately become the person in the wrong and from that moment the store isn’t obliged to do anything to help you.

In your case, even though you’re still paying the instalments, it’s still complicated. They’re saying that you bought a bed suitable for a child, not an adult, but can the store prove that you knew that? Can you prove that you didn’t?

I suggest you accept the second-hand bed as a temporary solution but make sure you don’t sign anything saying that this concludes the issue. Make it clear to them that you are only accepting it as a short-term solution. Meanwhile we’ll contact the store and see if they can’t be a little bit more helpful!

Must I pay the fee?

I have a question. My husband bought a car from a dealer in Mogoditshane. I didn't have enough cash so we used a credit card to pay. The car dealer did not have a swiping machine therefore he asked another shop to do the transaction. Now we are told we have to pay bank charges amounting to P1,950. The car was P58,000. Is this fair?

If I go to a supermarket and purchase goods with a credit card, they swipe what appears on the price tag. Any interest the bank will take care of. In this case why should I be charged bank charges separately?

Unfortunately I think you must pay the charge. When a company swipes a debit card or credit card they’re charged a fee by the bank. When we go shopping at a supermarket or a filling station, that fee is usually quite small and is included in the price of the purchase. Because it’s so small, customers don’t notice that they’re paying it. However, if you buy something as expensive as a car, the fee becomes enormous, like in this case and no company wants to pay a fee as high as this one.

To make matters worse in this case, the company who swiped your card were just doing you and the dealer a favour and they certainly don’t want (and nor should they) to be forced to pay P1,950 for doing you that favour.

Credit cards can be remarkably useful tools for certain types of transactions. You should certainly always use a Visa card if you’re booking a flight because Visa offers free travel insurance but you should always do your very best to pay off the balance you owe as quickly as possible because the interest rates are extremely high. Buying a car for P58,000 using a credit card when you don’t have the cash is going to be an extremely expensive way to do it. You’ll pay a lot more than the P1,950 transaction fee in interest payments. I suggest you find a way to pay off the card as soon as it’s possible to do so.

Saturday 19 May 2018

Radio show notes - week beginning 14th May 2018

Source: Wikipedia
1. Events – can we ever do them right?

Exhibit A. Hamptons Festival

The original event was postponed, and tickets were offered to the rescheduled event. However, some people either couldn’t make the rescheduled date or just chose not to.

But for some of those people, refunds were very slow to arrive.

Exhibit B. Gaborone Motor Show.

Following the sale of many tickets, some of which included entry to a raffle, the Motor Show organisers posted the following message:
“NOTICE: Our raffle has been cancelled! All persons who bought our P100 Raffle Tickets should claim their refund at our entrance points at the 2018 Gaborone Motor Show… We would like to sincerely apologize to all affected customers for this cancellation we were unable to get registration in time!”
However, several people were disappointed. One commented:
“The prize car for the raffle was not a brand new vehicle; the raffle itself was cancelled; and some issues arose with the young ladies tasked with working at the event. As per the post, I tried to claim my full refund at the entrance of the event and they told me the rules had changed and that they no longer give full refunds. Even after showing them this very post, they refused to give a full refund and stated that those will only be possible after an audit was carried out.”
The law is simple. All competitions, including raffles, must be approved by the Gambling Authority and that takes a while, it's not something that can be done quickly. The Motor Show organisers had plenty of time.

The lesson is to read the small print on tickets. Always ask about cancellation terms before you buy the ticket.

2. Jamalife – is it legit?

Jamalife describe themselves as:
“an online cum offline network marketing organization and was born out of the need to build up people financially all across the globe to the point of experiencing high quality life in all areas of living”. 
That's meaningless gibberish. Describing their products they say they have offer “Human Capital Development”, “Food Security”, “Online mail”, “Flight and hotel booking”, “Assets and Property acquisition” and “Financial empowerment”.

More meaningless gibberish.

What Jamalife really offers is multiple layers of recruitment. They call them Builder, Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald, Diamond, Crown Diamond, Ambassador and finally Crown Ambassador. Each of these layers include at least another two layers. Jamalife claim that once you reach the top of Crown Ambassador level, they promise that you can get R3,900,000 and a Range Rover worth R2,210,000.

But here's a question. To get to that level, how many people would you need in the pyramid beneath you?

The difference between a Multi-Level Marketing scheme and a pyramid scheme is simple. A pyramid scheme is focussed primarily on the recruitment of people rather than the sale of products. Jamalife say this:
"any rewards or earnings that are offered from Jamalife Helpers Global through the Business Plan is the result of members referring or signing up other willing members."
Their own words...

3. Where’s my policy?

A customer started an education policy in 2015, paying P300/month. This was meant to mature this year but:
“I was told I have closed the account in 2015 and it stopped deducting. Now they say I have to pay all the instalments in order for me to resuscitate the policy yet they don’t have any proof that I instructed them to stop the policy. They closed it because they say i wrote a letter instructing them to close it but they can't provide the stated letter.”
The important thing is that it is a customer’s job to monitor the payments, not their employer or their bank. It's the Custoemr's job to check bank statements and payslips to check they are making the payments they must.

In this case, the solutions is to pay the missing instalments. She still has the money after all.

4. World Ventures (yet again)

“Is it legit?” The Norwegian authorities say not. They found that 95% of all money earned is from recruiting other people. It's another pyramid scheme.

World Ventures base their pyramid on supposed travel discounts but discounts aren’t products. And anyway, there's no need to pay to join a discount when hotels give them away for free. You can get discounted hotel stays in South Africa but visiting, where they give away discounts for free. Or consider something like Airbnb.

Regarding World Ventures, the latest income figures they published for the USA showed that two thirds (actually 68.7%) of all the income went to the 3.7% at the top. The median annual income was a mere $33 (around P330). And that was income, not profit.

5. How to complain (in 2018)

A customer had a problem with a takeaway.
“I was contacted by one of their managers for the poor service I had received. When I got their I ordered the same food and asked to see the manager. The lady took her time and I went to buy a drink, I came back she still took her time and when she came she did apologies for the mistake they did but she was not interested in helping me and started interrogating asking silly questions about why I had to run to social media and wat not. I received no help concerning the poor service I had received. These people have no respect for us as consumers. Now I think it's time I took my case to consumer affairs.”
It’s 2018. How should we complain?

However the hell we want to!

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my policy?

I been having an education policy with an insurance company for the past 3 years and they were deducting P300 directly from my salary. The policy was supposed to mature this year. So when I called enquiring about it I was told I have closed the account in 2015 and it stopped deducting. Now they say I have to pay all the instalments in order for me to resuscitate the policy yet they don’t have any proof that I instructed them to stop the policy. They closed it because they say i wrote a letter instructing them to close it but they can't provide the stated letter. Surprisingly they have all my documents except that one.

I didn't notice that the deductions stopped because they were deducting from the salary and I didn't pay attention to the salary advice. They even did not consult me to come and claim my termination benefits now they say the policy used that money up as a default penalty.

I think you probably know what I’m going to say.

When you agree to a savings scheme like this, or an insurance policy or even a bank loan, the responsibility for paying the instalments rests entirely with you, the customer. If something goes wrong and your employer’s payroll system stops deducting from your salary or the bank stops making your monthly payments it’s still your job to notice that the payments have stopped, even if the error wasn’t of your making. You are the one that signed the agreement, not your employer or your bank.

It really is incredibly important that we all check our payslips and bank statements to ensure that we’re honoring our obligations.

In your case it’s more complicated. Surely if this insurance company says that you instructed them to close the policy then they have a record of that? If they don’t, what sort of filing system do they have?

I suspect that the solution to this is simple. You WILL need to make up the payments you missed if you want the policy re-established, there’s no escaping from that. But let’s see what they say about that letter that doesn’t seem to exist.

Is Jamalife real and legit?

Yes, it’s real. Is it legit? That’s more complicated. If you think pyramid schemes are legit, then yes, it’s legit. However, if like me, you think pyramid schemes are scams run by crooks who exploit the na├»ve, then no, it’s not legit.

Jamalife describe themselves as “an online cum offline network marketing organization and was born out of the need to build up people financially all across the globe to the point of experiencing high quality life in all areas of living”. Which means exactly nothing.

On the subject of products, they talk about “Human Capital Development”, “Food Security”, “Online mail”, “Flight and hotel booking”, “Assets and Property acquisition” and “Financial empowerment”. Again, that’s just meaningless nonsense.

Like all pyramid schemes they require their victims to recruit multiple layers beneath them. With this scam they call their levels Builder, Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald, Diamond, Crown diamond, Ambassador and finally Crown Ambassador. Within each of these levels there are sub-levels the victims will need to progress through if they want to get to the top. Once you get to the top of “Crown Ambassador” level they say you’ll get R3,900,000 and a Range Rover worth R2,210,000. Sounds great but how many people will you need to recruit to get to this level?

I did the maths. To get to this level the network beneath you would need to consist of 16,777,214 people.

The good news is that for once Jamalife is a pyramid scheme that’s honest about its business model. They say "any rewards or earnings that are offered from Jamalife Helpers Global through the Business Plan is the result of members referring or signing up other willing members". At least they’re honest.

One more thing. At the time of writing this, their web site is unavailable and that’s very often a sign that a pyramid or Ponzi scheme is about to collapse. You’ve been warned!

Saturday 12 May 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

A genuine funder?

I need your assistance here Sir, of recent I came across this other company on Internet as I was searching for possible funders, I requested for an investment amount of $50,000. We have been communicating via mail till today when I receive their approval confirmation. What scares me is that their procedure was so simple and they never requested any security nor any clause that talks of in case I fail to return the money. I'll send you the agreement letter they sent me and please confirm for me if the company is legit or is just a scam.

There's no doubt about it. This is a scam.

The first clue is the simplest. This isn't how funding works. It's not how getting a loan works. Genuine lenders don't offer large amounts of money to total strangers they met on the internet. Genuine lenders don't lend money without extensive checks, interviews, form-filling and evidence that the borrower can make the necessary repayments. Anyone who's taken a genuine loan will confirm this. It's never easy.

In your case there are other clues. They say they'll lend you around $50,000 (around P500,000) but at only 3% interest? That's unbelievable. Furthermore, they say that the total interest over the five year loan period will be just $3,906? Genuine lenders can do basic arithmetic.

This is actually nothing more than an advance fee scam. There is no loan, no lender, no funder. Nothing you've been told is true. The way is this works is that the scammers seduce you with the offer of a very cheap loan but just before this fake loan is paid to you they'll demand a payment from you first. Sometimes it's a tax or duty, other times an account opening fee, maybe a penalty of some sort. Again it's all fake but that's what it's all about, that fee they make you pay in advance of getting the fake loan.

I'm glad to hear that you haven't sent them any money yet because often when people contact us with stories like yours it's too late and the money has already been sent. And everyone should know this. Scammers don't offer refunds!

Another broken second hand car

About 3 weeks ago I purchased a 2nd hand car for P48,000 from one dealership in Mogoditshane. Within 3 days it showed an engine light in the dash board and then on the 5th day showed another one.

I took the car to more than 5 car technicians and mechanics who made their computer diagnose and found different problems. The last diagnosis report found that it's the computer box which needs to be replaced. I have also fixed the car on so many things, include the engine mountings and plugs.

I have come to decision of returning the car back to the dealership in Mogoditshane. When I include all the minor services I have spent around P8,000 extra on the car. I have all the necessary receipts of some of the expenses. And please advise if a refund is due to me how I will be refunded the purchase price and for the services.

All the problems and expenses have been communicated to the dealer who has asked us to do more diagnosis on the car and insisted its fine. Eventually he asked his mechanic to look at it on 1st May and found all the problems we complained about.

The agreement was that the warranty is only one month if it has an engine problem. And my one month ends on 13th May I guess that's why he keeps pushing I drive the car even if I insist it has problem so that my one month to elapses.

I suspect you're right. The dealer is stalling you and hoping the month will expire before you take action to protect your interests. You need to write him a letter saying that the car is not "of merchantable quality" as required by Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations and that you require him to honour the warranty that was included in the sale of the vehicle. Make sure that letter gets to him as soon as possible and definitely before the 13th May. On the same day you should also go to the Consumer Protection Unit and lodge a complaint with them. Ask them to call him so that he knows they're on the case. With a little luck these two actions will encourage him to do the decent thing!

Saturday 5 May 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay to fix the leak?

Please help me. Last year I engaged a company to do waterproofing on my roof deck. Lo and behold after the first rains in 2017 the deck leaked badly. We called the guy who returned and claimed to have fixed the problem. This year it rained cats and dogs and the deck leaked worse than before. The guy came again and promised to return to fix it. It's now 2 months, he says I should pay P3,800 for him to hire a concrete drill for him to make a new passage for the water because according to him it was the builders mistake. Needless to say he never mentioned any mistake in the builders part previously.

Please help us as I'm worried if the rain stops we will still suffer next time it rains. I find it unfair to pay for a machine when I paid in full for what was to be a complete job.

Thanks in advance.

Regular readers will know by now what Section 13 (1) (a) of the current Consumer Protection Regulations says. It demands that all commodities and services must be "of merchantable quality" which it defines as "fit for the purposes for which commodities of that kind are usually purchased, as it is reasonable to expect in light of the relevant circumstances". Waterproofing a roof should do exactly that. It should be waterproof. Obviously, you can't expect miracles but I'm sure this guy knows the sort of weather we have in Botswana and he should have been able to offer you a product that could withstand it.

This business about demanding money from you to buy new equipment is just silly. It's not your responsibility to buy his company the equipment they should already have.

The important lesson from your experience is whenever you get work like this done to your home, insist on getting a written warranty or guarantee. I don't think it's unreasonable to demand that a specialist builder like this can give their customers some level of assurance of how long their work will protect you. The decent ones do this already, why don't the others?

Meanwhile I'll contact the company and see if they can't be more helpful!

Update. The builder told me that "we are fixing the leak this week and will confirm when all remedial works are done". Let's see if that actually happens!

Where is Ritefurn?

I need some advice. I bought some furniture at Ritefurn at Game City. Now the shop is closed and apparently they owe rent. Now its been four months and have not gotten my items. I'm being sent from pillar to pillar. What can I do?

We've been approached by many people asking the same question. Like you, some have told me they've paid Ritefurn money for goods they hadn't received, other have goods and don't know how to continue paying for them. Everyone seems confused. I've also spoken to the people who were working at Ritefurn and they are worried that people will stop paying them and the business will collapse as a result. However, my main interest is in consumers.

What are the facts? Ritefurn branches are closed. The remaining managers told me that they don't have access to the business bank account. Some customers told me that they were asked to pay the money they owed into employee's personal bank accounts. The last thing I heard was that the owner is no longer in Botswana and I got a message from the number he last used saying that "the operations of Ritefurn is hold at the moment".

Given that even the owner says the company is no longer operating, I urge you not to pay anyone anything right now because there is no guarantee that the money is going to the right place. For those people who have already paid for things they haven't received I suspect you're in for a long wait.