Sunday 31 March 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my money?

I bought a second hand car in December 2018 from a certain garage in Mogoditshane and the car had a lot of faults which the owner had promised he will fix before I take the car. To my surprise he did nothing and the car almost killed me on my way to my home village.

I contacted him and he agreed that I should return the car and he will replace with another. I waited till end of January for a replacement to no avail. In mid February I told him now I need my money back. He gave me a cheque but the money in his account is not enough. He keeps postponing the days I need your help in making him pay.

You might not realise it but you’re actually quite lucky. Many second-hand car dealers would have washed their hands of this situation and told you that they weren’t going to help. At least this one has indicated that he’ll do the decent thing. That was probably because of the danger the car posed to you and the realisation that if you had been harmed his reputation and his business would have suffered.

The other good news is that you now have a very powerful case against him. Yes, he sold you a vehicle that wasn’t “of merchantable quality” as required by Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations but then he did something much, much worse. He gave you a dud cheque.

Section 23 of the National Clearance and Settlement Systems Act states that “Any person who knowingly draws or issues a cheque … against which there are no sufficient funds in his account at a financial institution on which the cheque or other payment instrument is drawn shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding P1500 or 3 months imprisonment or to both.”

Selling you a dodgy car will get him in trouble. The bounced cheque could get him jail time. I suggest you tell him this and see how quickly he responds. If he doesn’t then maybe we need to find someone with a uniform, handcuffs and the power of arrest?

Must I refund them?

I need your help, around January 30 2019 I saw an advert on face book from Trends Clothing. The account is in SA but they are saying they are based in the United States of America.

They were looking for agents from different countries, Botswana was amongst them, so I sent my CV they appointed me to be an agent for Botswana. They announced on Facebook that people can forward their orders to me, and people started placing orders and sent money to me so that I can deposit to Trends clothing account. About 20 people placed orders and gave me money. I deposited around $740 on different occasions. We were told that it takes 20 days for orders to arrive but up to now nothing has arrived. People are now mad at me.

Trends are now not responding to my emails and they blocked me on their page as well but the sad thing is that they are continuing to take money from people. I have also called agents from South Africa and Swaziland and they are experiencing the same. My worry is they are continuing to take money from people

In this case is it me who is supposed to refund them or Trends?

I contacted Trends Clothing in South Africa to ask them about your concerns and I was told by someone called Raylene that she had “forwarded the email to our legal and tracking department. They should be in contact with you within 2 business days”. At the time I wrote this, that was eleven days ago. Unless they’ve got in touch before you read this, it’s now more than two weeks, not two days. I think that tells us something about them, don’t you?

You are certainly not the only person who has been disappointed by Trends Clothing. I found lots of other complaints, many of them reporting experiences the same as yours. Money paid, no deliveries and then silence. The bad news is that unless you can persuade them to be patient or forgive you, the people who paid you for goods probably do deserve a refund from you, not Trends Clothing. It was you they paid, not the shady characters in South Africa. Meanwhile, I’ll keep up the pressure on the South Africans.

Friday 22 March 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay?

Please assist me to understand this below.

I had a child in English medium school doing Standard 4 in 2018 and in December I wrote to the school to notify them that I will transfer my child in January 2019. I had paid all school fees for Standard 4 and in response they informed me that according to school policy is either I offer a term notice or pay one term school fees in lieu of notice. I had to transfer my child as soon as possible for personal reasons. My question is that normal to charge a notice penalty of the term fees even if my child had not started Standard 5 with the school? Please advise?

Unfortunately giving a term’s notice is completely normal practice with private schools. If you check the terms and conditions in the contract I assume you signed when you first enrolled your child at the school you’ll probably find a clause stating this. If you think about it, it’s not unreasonable. Your child was occupying a place that another child could have taken and unless the school has a waiting list for students it could easily take them a term or longer to find a replacement for your child. Think of it like the notice you must offer when you leave a rented property.

You could try to avoid this by not paying the notice period but there’s a real risk that the school will engage an attorney and chase you for the money. Do you really want to run the risk of a judgment against you?

It might be worth asking the school if they can’t be a little bit more flexible, but I wouldn’t be optimistic. They’ll be within their rights to insist that you honour the agreement you signed.

Is CBN a pyramid scheme?

It most certainly is, there’s no doubt about it and they’re actively seeking new recruits right now as you read this.

I saw one of their advertisements which said that with CBN “It’s simple to work with us”, and that recruits could get medical assistance, legal aid assistance, grocery vouchers, international trips and scholarships. The advertisements even state that the business is “recruitment only” and that there is “no selling products”.

I contacted one of the recruiters and she was very keen to tell me all about it.

She told me that “already there are people who have benefited from it” and that “it’s all about you putting an effort and moving”. I asked whether it was just about recruiting other people or selling products and she was honest. “Just recruiting my dear, no selling of products at all”. I asked her if that made CBN a pyramid scheme and she said “I would say that in a way, Yes it does. Network marketing is all about having more people under you so that you advance to higher stages.”

I then asked, “With CBN it’s just about building a pyramid?” She said “yes, with CBN its all about building a pyramid”.

At least she’s honest!

The bad news for the people promoting CBN and even those joining it is that the new Consumer Protection Act states very clearly that it’s illegal for anyone to promote or even to “knowingly join, enter or participate, or cause any other person to promote, join, enter or participate in… a pyramid scheme”. You might ask whether qualifies as a pyramid scheme under the new Act? It most certainly does. It defines a pyramid scheme as a business where “where participants in the scheme receive compensation derived primarily from their respective recruitment of other persons as participants”. Isn’t that exactly what CBN and its recruiters say?

You might also ask what the penalties might be. That’s the good part. The Act says that anyone convicted of promoting or joining a pyramid scheme “shall be liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding P100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to both.” I really like the idea of seeing some CBN recruiters being led away in handcuffs. I’d pay to see that, wouldn’t you?

Wednesday 20 March 2019

World Ventures still won't make you any money

Despite claiming to offer "The Road to Fun, Freedom and Fulfilment", the truth is less positive.

The latest "Annual Income Disclosure Statement" from World Ventures makes very poor reading. "Very poor" is probably an appropriate phrase because that's what joining World Ventures is likely to make you.

The figures that refer to their US operation in 2016 show firstly that 79.95% of the people who've joined make nothing from World Ventures. NOTHING.

Of those that make something:
  • 76.5% of all the money earned goes to the top 5.4%.
  • 73.7% of the people earning money share just 10.2% of the income.
And average earnings? If you include just those people who make some money, the average earnings per year is a measly $355. If you include everyone in the scheme, it's a pitiful $30.

So, like all other pyramid and Multi-Level Marketing schemes, it's only the people at the top that make money and they only do so at the expense of the vast majority below them.

Saturday 9 March 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can she escape World Ventures?

I’m trying to help an elder who committed herself into some two ladies who said they are travel agents offering holiday packages. I was shocked to hear her side of the story that its almost a year now without hearing from them but they are taking a monthly direct debit order from her account of P300. She was traveling the other time so she tried to call and ask them if they can handle the flights and accommodation and travel expenses but they are nowhere to be found!!

The name of the travel agent website page is World Ventures.

We are kindly asking for help if we can stop the monthly transaction with the bank with this people?

This is very sad. Your elderly friend has fallen victim to a particularly heartless pyramid scheme.

World Ventures base their pyramid on supposed travel discounts but here’s a simple fact: 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, or these days just use Airbnb where you can find some remarkably cheap places to stay anywhere in the world.

It’s also not a way to make any money, despite the promises of people desperately trying to recruit other members. The latest income figures that I’ve seen that 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.

I suggest your friend contacts her bank immediately and tells them that the deductions are not authorised and that no further payments should be made.

The battery is dead!

I bought a second hand laptop from a second hand shop in Gaborone. I mentioned to the shop owner that I don’t have electricity yet at my house so I will be charging it at work and use it at home when I knock off. He said his laptops are new from UK and batteries are ok so I dont have to worry.

He showed me the Dell laptop which was in good condition, he plugged in the battery and within a minute the laptop went off and he said he forgot to charge it, but he had demonstrated most of what I needed in a laptop. I asked the seller how long the battery last and he said 1 hour at first, and that wasn’t bad. I then asked him are u sure and he was like maybe 30 minutes. So I handed him 1500 which was charged and I even told him I’m not satisfied about the 30 minutes but hey. I charged the laptop that evening, took it home and it went on for only 2 minutes, 2 minutes! Can u imagine.

I called him the next day to explain and he denied ever saying that it lasts for 30 minutes. And I asked him, why would I take a laptop without a battery when I do not have electricity, the guy denied and said I should read at the back their terms and conditions, which I had done. It stated that incase I return their product they will charge me 25% handling fee, which i did not understand.

I feel robbed.

I agree. You deserve to feel robbed. A laptop battery that lasts for 2 minutes is worthless.

It doesn’t really matter whether a laptop (or anything else) is new or second-hand, it must be as it was described to you. As the Consumer Protection Regulations put it, it must be “as advertised or represented”. It must also be “of merchantable quality” which means “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”. That last bit is important. “in light of the relevant circumstances” means that you can’t expect a second-hand laptop to have the battery life of a brand new one. But it should be usable. It must function reasonably well considering its age. It must also be “fit for any particular purpose made known by the consumer”. You explained that you needed a laptop with decent battery life because you don’t have electricity at home. He knew that from the beginning so there’s no excuse. Send me his contact details and we’ll explain this to him, in terms simple enough that even he can understand it.

Saturday 2 March 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is this a real doctorate?

I have been instrumental in the advancement of youth women and girls in STEM as well as equipping the upcoming generation with business and interpreanuarial skills. I have won numerous awards for my exceptional leaders and being a pioneer in my proffesion. I received an email from the London Graduate School saying I have just been offered a Honorary PhD by the Commonwealth University but they want me to pay a whopping $5,500 to come and get it in Dubai on a top leadership conference.

Can you kindly please sincerely assist with finding the credibility of this people?

As you’re an “exceptional leader” and a “pioneer” already I think you already know the answer, don’t you?

Real PhDs aren’t sold to people, they’re earned. Most doctorates are earned by lots of studying and research and certain exalted individuals are given honorary doctorates but they’re based on exceptional service or achievement. Neither group need to buy them with money.

It didn’t take long to discover that both the London Graduate School and the Commonwealth University are suspicious. To begin with both seem to share the same address at 34 South Molton Street in London, UK. Interestingly, that’s an address they seem to share with 183 other companies. Yes, it’s just a “serviced office space” where anyone can “rent” an office address for just £450. Given that they share an address I think it’s safe to assume that they’re the same organisation, don’t you?

34 South Molton St, London, W1K 5RG
The address of both establishments. You can buy some clothes while you're there.
Image c/o Google Street View
Another curious thing is that while the so-called “Commonwealth University” claims to be based at that address in London their domain is registered to an address in Nigeria. Isn’t that also a bit suspicious?

Update: The so-called "Commonwealth University" claims accreditation from the "International Association for Distance Learning" who offer a London address, "372 Old Street, London EC1V 9AU".

No surprise, this is also an accommodation address.

This seems to be just a money-making scheme. Personally I think it’s also a firm slap in the face to those people who have earned a doctorate the old-fashioned way through years of study, sleepless nights and loss of family time. It’s also an insult those who have been awarded honorary degrees following their service and achievement. The simple truth is that anyone who buys a bogus qualification is as much of a fraud as the bogus qualification they purchase.

Where’s my car?

I bought a car last year in June until today never received it. The guys are always saying before month end every time when I ask.

I paid P28,000 was still to balance them with P10,000 when the car arrive, the whole car was P38,000. We were communicating on WhatsApp. They were suggested by a friend and they have an agent here so tried to talk to him then he said he can't help because I was dealing with them directly.

This is going to be a difficult one. The most difficult problem to overcome is going to be that you don’t have anything in writing that explains when, how and where the vehicle will be delivered. WhatsApp conversations are fine but they’re not nearly as useful as a printed and signed sales agreement.

I think the best situation is to put something in writing now. No more phone calls, no more WhatsApp messages, this needs to be a letter that explains that you gave them the money in June last year, what exactly the money was for and when you expected the vehicle to be delivered. I suggest you make it clear that after eight months they’ve still failed to deliver the car you paid for they have still not provided it and you are now cancelling the deal completely and require your deposit to be returned to you “promptly” as required by Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations. The word “promptly” isn’t precisely defined but if they haven’t given you the money back after maybe 14 days I think you should complain to the Licencing Department in the local council and suggest that their trade licence should be reviewed. That might encourage them to play a little more fairly.

You can also mention that we’re now interested in the case and if they’d like some free publicity in The Voice, just not of the best type, that can be arranged. Send me their contact details!