Sunday 28 July 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Was I right to repay them?

Good day. I need some advise. I bought a car through a bank loan in 2013 which was then repossessed in 2016.

The bank sold the car and the new owner bought it at about 140 000 and the balance of the loan was 144 000 which I continued to pay until early this year. I have just been advised by a family member that once the car is repossessed and sold, I was not supposed to pay the remaining balance for the loan since the car was not in my possession.

Is this true? If so would I still claim my money back. My question was if goods are repossessed and sold does one still continue to pay even if the goods are not in their possession?

Unfortunately, your relative is wrong.

When you buy a vehicle (or anything else) through a bank loan and then you stop making your payments, the bank is entitled to do their best to recover the money they lent you. However, if they use either the loan agreement or a court order to repossess the vehicle that doesn’t mean the debt goes away. Your case is a good example of this. From the figures you mention, it seems that you still owed the bank P284,000 when the vehicle was repossessed although that might have included penalties, interest, debt collection, legal and court costs. The vehicle was then sold at auction for a mere P140,000, leaving a balance of P144,000 that you still owed to the bank. They’re entitled to get that back from you by whatever legal means they choose. If you look at your original loan agreement you’ll find it says they can do this and your signature on one page and your initials on every other page show that you agreed to this. It even proves that you “understood” the agreement, even if you didn’t!

However, I don’t think that lenders (and other companies) do enough to make it perfectly clear what will happen if you can’t afford to keep up the payments. I think they need to be a lot clearer.

I suggest that you explain to your relative that this is how borrowing works. I hope he or she isn’t spreading this misunderstanding too far! Trying to avoid our debts will only get us into even more trouble.

Must I pay if I break something?

I wanted to know, if a customer break an item on a shelve in a shop with no intent, but by mistake does the customer need to pay the shop for the broken item?

Yes, you need to pay. If they insist.

Think of it this way. Imagine I’m not a friend or relative, not someone you care about, I’m a total stranger. If I came to your house and accidentally damaged or destroyed something that was of value to you, what would you expect me to do? Wouldn’t you expect me to replace it for you, or at least make a contribution towards the cost? That’s what I would expect if the roles were reversed.

I don’t think it’s any different in a store. Remember that a store is just another private place, although one the public is invited to enter. If I enter the store owner’s premises and break something, don’t you think I should replace it?

Some might argue that the store has insurance that covers losses but don’t forget that the price of the item you broke will be way less than the “excess” amount the insurance company would require the store to pay before the insurance company pays out. Even if it didn’t, the store wouldn’t want to go through the hassle filling in forms, submitting claims and dealing with the inevitable delays. It’s much simpler for them to ask you to repay them for the amount they lost.

Meanwhile, if the item damaged was of little value, a pleasant store manager or owner might overlook it, particularly if it was just an accident. However, as we’ve all learned, not all store owners and managers are that pleasant.

Tuesday 23 July 2019

Radio show notes (NBFIRA Policyholder Protection Rules) - 23rd July 2019

Source: Wikipedia
I was on DumaFM today with friends from NBFIRA talking about the new Policyholder Protection Rules relating to insurance products.

So what do these Policy Protection Rules say?

No background, no history, no lengthy (and boring) explanations of laws, regulations and small print, what actually matters to you and me?

Cooling-off period

A customer can now cancel an insurance policy within 30 days of receiving the policy. Not 30 days from agreeing to the deal but from when the policy actually arrives and they’ve had a chance to read and digest it. If they choose to cancel, they’re entitled to a refund of any premiums paid, minus any admin expenses the company has incurred.

However, this obviously doesn’t apply if the customer has made a claim in that period.

Penalties for termination, cancellation or withdrawal

If there are any penalties for cancelling or termination a policy, the company must disclose these when the policy is being sold. Not some time later when the consumer asks to cancel.

Importantly, this covers those policies that have an investment component and where the commissions and charges are “front-loaded”, being deducted in the early stages of the policy rather than throughout it. The people selling these products MUST explain that if the policy is terminated early then the customer might get little or nothing back in the early years.

Claims procedures

Companies must explain the claims procedures and how long they will take.

Complaints procedures

Companies must explain their complaints procedures, and also that NBFIRA can assist customers with problems.

Oral agreements

Anything said to a customer when the policy is being sold must then be put in writing within 30 days of the discussion.

Blank or incomplete forms

Policy holders must not be asked to sign blank or incomplete application forms.

Choice of insurance

(I like this one a lot.)

Anyone entering into a loan, credit or lease agreement that requires insurance MUST be allowed to use an existing insurance policy that they already have, if it’s suitable. So someone who already has a household insurance policy can use that to cover something they buy on credit or hire purchase. This is good because thee insurance policies most stores offer are incredibly expensive.

Saturday 20 July 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can I get my money back?

Last month I bought a ticket for my niece from Ethiopian Airlines to travel from Botswana to London in June and return in August. When she reached the airport she was told she doesn't have the necessary paperwork to allow her to travel and will have to travel at a later date. The next week when we wanted to rebook with all the paper work now we were told that we have to pay P2000 to rebook of which we were never told about from the beginning. We decided to cancel the whole trip and seek a refund and we were told the ticket was non-refundable. The value of the ticket was close to P8000.

Please do advice accordingly your help will be appreciated.

I don’t think I’m going to make you any happier.

International sounds glamorous but it’s much more likely to be a stressful experience, even when things go well. In this case the stress you niece experienced must have been overwhelming.

However, here’s the problem. There are various reasons why an airline might prevent someone from boarding the flight they’ve already paid for. Maybe their identity documents don’t exactly match the booking that was made? I know it seems petty but things like the spelling of your name, whether you include middle names and initials, ID and passport numbers all matter. If they’re not exactly the same as those given when the booking was made, then you might have problem.

Then there are the immigration requirements that various nations impose. Some demand that you can prove you have enough money to get by while you’re in their country. Others need proof of the address where you’ll be staying. Some demand a letter from the person or organisation hosting you. Many demand that you have a return ticket showing that you really mean to leave their country. Remember also that if you’re going on a journey which goes through a country in between your home and your final destination then the intervening country might also demand these things.

The other thing to remember is that if someone reaches their destination and is refused entry, it is often the airline that transported them that is forced to pay for the return flight. Airlines will then try and recover that cost from the passenger. That’s why they can be so strict at check-in.

The lesson is ALWAYS to check with the country you flying to, the countries through which you transit AND the airline what documents you need to provide. Then check again. Most countries have this material online but it’s also a good reason why an experienced travel agent can be very helpful.

Are these claims real?

Richard, what are your thoughts on this that I was sent. It’s from a local Facebook page.

My thoughts? They’re bad ones. My emotions? Anger, irritation, outrage and fear. I’m angered that people are advertising such dangerous nonsense that poses a real threat to health. Longrich agents have a long history of making illegal claims about the products they market but these claims are some of the worst I’ve seen.

Let’s face some simple facts. These magical, apparently magnetic panty liners are utter nonsense. There is no evidence that they can do anything that the advertisers claim. The only thing that can deal with a hormonal imbalance or an irregular ovulation cycle, that can unblock fallopian tubes, remove fibroids, reset “a displaced womb” and address infertility is medicine. Real medicine, not this illegal hogwash.

Yes, this IS illegal. Sections 396-399 of the Penal Code outlaw the “prohibited advertisements” that offer such treatments. They also breach various consumer protection laws by making false claims and they are also totally ignoring BOMRA, the Medicines Regulatory Authority who I’m sure will be outraged that such lies are being spread by Longrich distributors.

It’s also incredibly dangerous. Someone suffering these complaints urgently needs to consult a doctor rather than buy bogus products from the liars making these claims. If just one person fails to consult a doctor thinking that Longrich products can treat their disorders and suffers as a result, then these distributors have blood on their hands.

Saturday 13 July 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can they call us like this?

Hi Richard. I need advice. If someone is owing on a loan but are unemployed can the bank start calling the persons relatives asking about his or her whereabouts and asking them to get him to come see them?

First things first. If I owe a bank some money they’re entitled to make efforts to collect that money. They’re entitled to call me, email me, send me text messages and write me letters to remind me that I owe them money and encouraging me to pay my debt. If I stop communicating with them, as many people do, they’re entitled to try and find me.

Before I go on, everyone needs to understands that this does happen. Borrowers DO stop communicating with the companies that have lent them money. Many of them DO their best to avoid their obligations and their commitments. I have some sympathy for the lenders who are faced with this sort of situation.

However, there are some limits. New limits. Section 6 of the 2018 Consumer Protection Act, which is titled “Prohibition of certain conduct”, says that a supplier is not permitted to “use force, coercion, undue influence, pressure, duress, harassment, unfair tactics or any other similar conduct against the consumer, in connection with … the enforcement of an agreement”.

This doesn’t mean the bank can’t make those phone calls and send those emails. It doesn’t mean that they can’t call the debtor’s friends and relatives and politely ask if they know where he might be. It DOES mean that they can’t cross the line and become unpleasant. They can’t be bullies. They can’t embarrass the person they’re chasing or his friends, colleagues and relatives. They can’t be nasty.

If this happens to you, if you’re the person the bank is hassling, looking for the person who owes them money, you need to tell them very clearly that they may not pester you any longer and that if they call you again you’ll complain to their Managing Director and to Consumer Watchdog.

If you’re the person they’re chasing, then you need to stop hiding. You won’t escape their attention, they’ll never give up and the sooner you start speaking to them, the less you’ll owe.

Can I get my money back?

Hello Richard. How do you deal with someone who swindle your some money in the pretence of registering you companies of which she never delivered and kept coming for more money. Then you realise that the person never did the job instead they ate the money, you cancel and demand the money back and she says she will pay end June. Now end of June I demand my money back she blocks me. This woman is owing me P3000. There were no receipts when paying, but the conversation and recorded calls say it all.

There are certain industries that seem to have more than their fair share of crooks. The wedding industry is one, we hear of so many weddings ruined by amateur photographers, caterers and dressmakers. Second-hand car dealers as well, we all know about their reputation. The “consultants” who register companies for a fee, they also have a major proportion of crooks.

I think you need to get a message to this latest example somehow, making it very clear that your patience has worn out and now you need your money back. You should let them know that your next step will be to approach the Small Claims Court for an order against them. You should also tell them that you’ll be visiting CIPA, the Companies and Intellectual Property Authority, which registers companies, informing them that her company lies to its customers and pretends to register companies but in fact steals their money. You should also tell them that we’re on the case now as well.

I’ll get in touch with this person and see if I can apply a little pressure as well.

Saturday 6 July 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

International Breadwinners threaten to sue me!

Please advise, i have joined a networking marketing business called IBW (International breadwinners). It all began when they enticed us with certain incentives when you reach a certain stage. (Stage 5). So there is 200 hundred of us of which we contributed P1,250 each. They are now claiming that we have to contribute another P3800. But if you question their operation they remove you from their Whatsapp group. There is no compensation or refund whatsoever.

Kindly assist, how can I report them but they are claiming to sue me since they mention they have established lawyers.

International Breadwinners is not a multi-level or network marketing scheme. It’s a pyramid scheme.

In a WhatsApp conversation I had with someone trying to recruit me some months ago I was told that IBW is “A network marketing business where by u join with P100 and recruit 2 people and they will be registered under u. this 2 people they also recruit their 2 people. Is a business of 2x2. Everyone who joins must bring 2 people. Then u elevate as more people come on board and move stages.”

You note that they don’t mention any products? I then went on to ask several recruiters the same question. “We don’t need to sell any products, just recruit other people?” They all gave me very similar answers. One said “We don’t sell anything” and that “all we do is we recruit” people.

That recruiter also claimed to be a serving police officer which is worrying as he’s also now a criminal who can face a fine of up to P100,000 and five years imprisonment for promoting a pyramid scheme.

Your problem is a difficult one. If, as you say, two hundred people have joined, each contributing P1,250, someone somewhere has raised P250,000. Do you really think they want to give that back? The people who start pyramid schemes like IBW do it to make money and to do so at the expense of the people like you who were seduced by their claims of a money-making opportunity. That’s why they want you all to contribute another P3,800. Clearly they want to raise a million. And do you know what’s worse? They’ve made a criminal of you as well. Section 9 of the new Consumer Protection Act outlaws not just promoting pyramid schemes but even joining them.

The good news is that the regulators are more and more are interested in controlling these schemes and protecting consumers. I’ll let them know about your testimony.

And the legal threat? Tell them that they’re welcome to threaten me. I’d welcome a good laugh!

Can’t they get a refund?

Please advice me here. On the 26 June I bought 2 bus fare tickets for my friends who were travelling from China to Botswana, They were going to catch the bus on the 28th from OR Tambo to Gabz. Unfortunately their flight got delayed by 12 hours in Hong Kong. My complaint is the bus company is refusing to refund at least half of the bus fare ticket since my friends won’t be boarding with them anyway but to my surprise they have given away those 2 seats to other clients and have received payment for them also. Is that allowed?

Is it allowed? That depends on various things. Firstly, it depends on what it says in the Terms and Conditions of their tickets. Does it mention anything about situation like this?

While it must be frustrating for your friends you should also ask yourself this question. The bus company sold your friends their tickets in good faith but was it the bus company’s fault that the flight was delayed? Yes, they were lucky to find other customers who could take their seats but there was no guarantee of that.

This is a very good example of why travel insurance is such a valuable thing. Anyone who is planning to travel internationally buy a travel insurance policy alongside their ticket. Even better, if you buy your tickets with your Visa credit card your bank might even give you travel insurance for free. Make that call before you travel and it could save you a lot of money of something goes wrong.