Tuesday 23 April 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is Global Dream Network legit?

I’ve been invited to seminars about Global Dream Network. Do you think it’s legit?

Many people have asked us the same question recently. They’ve either been invited to seminars (mostly at UB) or encouraged on Facebook to join WhatsApp groups about Global Dreams Network. They seem to be recruiting very hard within the University of Botswana and also BIUST in Palapye.

GDN say that their business is "all about giving donation to another member and you shall receive donation in multiples" and that it’s “a Person to Person, Direct Funding and Crowd Sharing Platform”. That’s exactly what we heard from a range of previous pyramid and Ponzi schemes, a mysterious scheme in which you donate money and magically, a lot more money comes your way. It’s not difficult to see that it’s an impossible, unsustainable business model.

Their own marketing material is very clear, that after joining for a fee of R350, and then recruiting a pyramid four levels deep, they claim you’ll have “potential earnings” of R38,800. However, just a few moments of mental arithmetic show that this is simply impossible.

I joined one of their WhatsApp conversations and asked the recruiter “To make money do I need to sell any products or just recruit other people” and was told “You recruit 2 people and teach ur two people to do the same”. She then confirmed to me that there are no actual products being bought or sold. That’s the definition of a pyramid scheme. No products, just recruitment of other people.

I did a little detective work and even though it operates in Rands, Global Dream Network does not appear to be a registered company in South Africa. Their domain was only registered on 21st January 2019 but their registration details have been withheld.

The bad news for anyone promoting or even joining a scheme like GDN is that the 2018 Consumer Protection Act will punish them with a fine of up to P100,000 and up to five years in prison. I suggest you ignore any invitations from Global Dream Network and don’t waste your time, effort and money. You might also escape a huge fine and time in jail!

P.S. I’ve also written to UB, suggesting they think more carefully about letting pyramid schemes like GDN exploit their facilities.

Must I pay them?

I bought a fridge and TV in May last year and I paid and paid on so from September and October I didn't manage to pay and November they came and took their property. They gave me a week for me to pay the instalment I didn’t manage for some other reasons then month end I went there to pay and collect my things to find that they sold them ok I just left it there. Now I want to get a loan from my bank and found that my name is in ITC. I went to their office and they told me to pay the P15000 first so they can remove me from ITC for what I don't know because they already sold the property. They are saying that to remove my name I should pay the amount otherwise they can't help me. Help sir what can I do?

Unfortunately, there’s very little you can do. Here’s the first thing you should know about hire purchase. The reason it’s called “hire” purchase is that you are hiring the goods before purchasing them. Until you pay the final instalment, the goods still belong to the store, not you. That means the store is entitled to repossess them without notice or a court order.

It gets worse. When you buy something on hire purchase and you stop paying your instalments the store is entitled to repossess the goods and then sell them and the money they get from that sale goes towards the amount you still owe the store. The problem is that the profit they get from the sale is tiny compared to the balance you still owe them. If you then fail to pay off the amount you still owe, the store is entitled to register your debt with a credit reference bureau like TransUnion. That will then make it very difficult for you to get a loan elsewhere.

And the reason they can do this? Because it’s true. You do still owe the store that money and it’s reasonable for other organisations to know that before they lend you money or offer you credit. The best thing you can do is ot contact the store and negotiate a repayment plan that you can afford.

Saturday 20 April 2019

Consumer Alert - Donations For Wealth

Consumer Alert
Donations for Wealth

Donations For Wealth describe themselves as:
"a 21st Century Donation system and Crowd Sharing Platform. It brings forth a new way of raising funds for various causes, whether it is for personal needs or a host of worthy causes, such as Paying off Debts, Groceries, Holiday, Weadding, Buying a car, churches, schools, non-profit organizations, etc."
They also say that they are the "No 1 World's best donation system" make some remarkable offers:
Turn R5 into 2 Million / Turn $ 0.40 into $150,000
Turn R10 into R100,000 / Turn $1 into $6920
Turn R100 into R40,000 / Turn $7 into $2700
Turn 500 into R135,000 / Turn $34 into $9160
Turn R500 into R20,000 / Turn $34 into $1358
Turn R50 into R5000 / Turn $3.40 into $340
Turn R200 into R4600  / Turn $14 into $312
Turn R500 into R21000  / Turn $34 into $1400
And then they claim that you can "Turn A once-off R10 to over R100,000".

Given that there are no products, that the only source of income seems to come from subsequent recruits, it's clear that Donations for Wealth is a Ponzi scheme. Or maybe a pyramid scheme. One of their Facebook posts was very simple about the business model:
"Lets work hard and Make money! Recruit Recruit Recruit!!"
The FAQ page on their web site (the domain for which was only registered on 12th February this year) includes the question "Can I sign people up myself?" and answers:
"Yes you can. In fact, you are encouraged to do that to make sure that the people you refer are placed under the correct Referrer, which is you."
One of their Facebook posts was very simple about the business model:
"Lets work hard and Make money! Recruit Recruit Recruit!!"
Whether it's a Ponzi scheme or a pyramid scheme doesn't really matter. Either way it's illegal.

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Will Amway make you rich? No.

Amway's income disclosure statement for the United Kingdom for 2017 (which covers the period the period from September 2016 to August 2017) makes depressing reading for anyone considering joining Amway. It'll be even more depressing for those who've already joined.

During that period there were 36,874 "Retail Consultants" and "Certified Retail Consultants". However, only 33% of them actually earned any money.

The average monthly income for these "Retail Consultants" and "Certified Retail Consultants" was a mere £77, just over P1,000. Remember that this is income, not profit. It doesn't include the cost of getting that income, the airtime and data, transport, power and water bills. I suspect that to earn P1,000 you probably need spend roughly the same amount.

The 66 people who reached the level of "Business Consultant", those at the top of the Amway pyramid, made an average of just over £27,000, around P370,000. Again, that's income, not profit. That's fewer than one in 500 Amway business owners. For reference, average earnings in the UK were also about the same amount.

The simple and depressing truth is that you need to be one of a tiny minority of Amway business owners if you want to make any significant money. How likely is that?

Sunday 14 April 2019

Consumer Alert - Global Dream Network

Global Dream Network describe their business model as:
"It's all about giving donation to another member and you shall receive donation in multiples"
They also say that the system is:
"a Person to Person, Direct Funding and Crowd Sharing Platform. It brings forth a new way of raising funds for various causes, whether it is for personal needs or a host of worthy causes, such as churches, schools, non-profit organizations, etc."
The truth is much simpler. It's a pyramid scheme. Their own imagery shows this.

Their web site and their distributors are very clear that there are no products, all recruits need to do is to recruit other people.

Global Dream Network does not appear to be a registered company in South Africa, despite seeming to operate using Rand. Their domain was only registered on 21st January 2019 but the registration details have been withheld.

Section 9 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2018 defines a pyramid scheme as a scheme “where participants in the scheme receive compensation derived primarily from their respective recruitment of other persons as participants”. It also says that “A person shall not directly or indirectly promote, or knowingly join, enter or participate, or cause any other person to promote, join, enter or participate in... a pyramid scheme”.

The penalty for promoting, even indirectly promoting or even just joining a pyramid scheme is “a fine not exceeding P100,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to both.”

Global Dream Network is clearly a pyramid scheme and is therefore illegal in Botswana. Consumer Watchdog urges consumers not to waste their time, effort and money in such an illegal scheme.

Friday 12 April 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my phone?

On January 3rd I took my phone to a repair shop to get the charging system fixed. They took my phone and gave me a receipt for the cost of repairing it. I was told to come back after 2 days. Upon going there, they still had not fixed it and said they would call when done. Indeed they called to say I should collect my phone it has been fixed. I get there and they hand me my phone and the glass back cover is shattered, they explained it was an accident.

Now I insert my sim card and the phone has no signal. I confront them about the issue and they start telling me about software issues and so forth, so they said they will take a look at it and will call when its sorted out. So I go and research on Google if its possible for it to be a software problem only to find out that if you put a part that isn’t the same type as the original the network won’t work. It only uses the specific coded parts. I then go and tell them what I had researched, to find out they also found that to be the issue. So they said they would have to order the part. After a month I return to check on my phone and they still haven’t got the correct part. On top of that the phone is now scratched and doesn’t power on anymore and permanently locked. They promised to fix all that and replace the cracked covers. A month later I returned again and still the same story and they admitted that they can no longer fix the Phone because its an original "high end" and doesn’t take counterfeit parts. Now I asked them what’s the way forward because I brought my phone in good working condition and now the phone is totally dead. They don’t have a response. What can I do?

What can you do? You can expect a new phone.

This so-called “repair shop” have mistreated you comprehensively and have also probably acted illegally by using counterfeit parts. I suggest that you contact the good people at the Consumer Protection Unit in the Ministry of Investment Trade and Industry and ask them to flex their muscles in the direction of this disreputable company. Suggest to them that this company has breached almost every one of the Consumer Protection Regulations, in particular those related to offering goods and services that are “of merchantable quality” and delivered “with reasonable care and skill”.

From what you say, it’s clear that this company shouldn’t be in the phone repairs business at all. They need to be in the ‘giving you a new phone’ business.

Can I get a refund?

Kindly assist on how I should go about my issue. I purchased a TV on the 20th of January this year, the TV gave me problems and I returned on the 23rd of March after I logged a case on the 16th of March.

They called me today 4th of April saying I have been credited and should come and choose another TV as they don't have a similar TV to replace my faulty one. From the TVs they have they don't have the same size of TV with the same price that I purchased the now faulty one. I opted to be refunded as they don't have a similar TV within the same price range. They are refusing refunding saying I should choose another one and the don't have one and also don't have money to top up for a similar size of TV.

When a store sells something that isn’t “of merchantable quality” we, as consumers, have a right to have that problem fixed and the solution must be one of the three R’s: a refund, a repair or a replacement. However, the current rules suggest that it’s up to the supplier to decide which of those they offer you. So the store is entitled to offer you a replacement TV of the same value to the one you bought.

However, in your case it’s more complicated. If they don’t have a TV that matches the price and functionality of the one you bought their options are simple. They can either offer you one that’s better than the original or they can refund you your money. Is that perhaps too complicated for them to understand?

We’ll get in touch with the store and see if we can explain it to them inn very simple language.

Saturday 6 April 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Have I been hacked?

I received an email saying that my account had been infected. It said that a hacker had exploited my email and had developed a virus that tracked pornographic web sites I visited and it says that they have videos of me watching pornography and of the sites it says I visited but this isn’t true, I haven’t visited those sites.

They say that I must send them $1,000 by Bitcoins and if I don’t they will send the videofile to all of my contacts including relatives and coworkers. What must I do?

What should you do? Absolutely nothing. I really mean that. Do nothing.

This is a scam, it’s not real. No hacker has infected your “account”, nobody has video recordings of you visiting pornographic web sites (the ones you didn’t actually visit), nobody is going to reveal anything to your relatives and co-workers because there’s nothing to reveal. This is just about extorting money from you. You can also be certain that if you did pay them the $1,000 they’re trying to blackmail from you, they would just continue to demand more and more from you until either you realised it was a scam or you ran out of money.

If it helps to reassure you, you should know that we also received exactly the same email as have many other people. These scammers rely on finding victims that have been viewing pornography online and have a guilty conscience about it. My advice is just to delete the email and do the same to any others like it that you might receive.

Meanwhile, this is perhaps a very good opportunity to make sure your computer is fully protected. Whatever operating system you use, turn on your firewall, make sure you install all the updates your computer suggests and install an antivirus package and then keep it up-to-date. And finally, be very careful what web sites you visit!

Have I won a tender?

I received an email below from a person who apparently works at PPADB.

This is my first time to receive such an email from "PPADB" with regards to tenders but I have a suspicion this email is not legitimate. The email doesn't seem to be genuine nor does the toll free number seem correct. There are 2 attachments and one of them has CONFIDENTIAL as a watermark.

Do you know of any other companies who have received emails claiming to be from PPADB?

Yes, I certainly DO know of other companies who have received emails like this apparently from PPADB. I’ve even received one myself.

This is another scam. The documents you were sent are certainly quite convincing until you look closely. Only then will you notice that the email address they give ends with “ppadb-bw.org” whereas the real PPADB domain is “ppadb.co.bw”. The bogus domain they’re using was only registered in June last year seemingly to someone in South Africa. It’s certainly not the real PPADB.

Based on the conversations I’ve had with people who have previously received emails like this, the way this scam will work is simple but clever. The documents they send give contact details for a supplies company in South Africa that they say will supply you with the goods they claim PPADB requires. But this fake company is part of the scam as well. Once you get in touch, they’ll do their best to seem like a legitimate company and will offer you the goods that PAPDB want but they’ll demand a deposit before they can ship them.

That’s what the scam is all about, that deposit you pay them. Rest assured that you will never see the goods or the deposit again.

This scam is so common that various government agencies, including PPADB has issued warnings to people stating that it’s a scam and that people who not respond to any tender requests until they’ve spoken to the procuring entity first to ensure that it’s genuine.

Please don’t be like the person I spoke to a few months ago who sent these scammers a deposit of P180,000, thinking they were going to get rich from a government tender. They’re now quite the opposite: poorer, sadder and deeply ashamed of their naivete.