Monday 23 December 2019

BitClub Network - $722 million gone missing, prosecutions beginning

A couple of years ago I was on radio and mentioned Bitcoin. I warned people that I thought it was an "economic bubble" and that its rapidly increasing price was very likely to come crashing down soon.

Later that day the station called me saying that "Bitcoin" had asked to come on air to provide another side to the story. I mentioned that there is no company called "Bitcoin" so I didn't see how they could send a spokesperson. They gave me the number of the person who had called and it was actually someone from BitClub Network, an obvious pyramid / Ponzi scheme. They claimed to be major Bitcoin miners but there was NO actual evidence of that being true.

They said:
“With BitClub Network you earn daily profits from our shared mining pools. We also have a referral program so you can get paid for anyone you refer.”
In fact, their main motivation was to recruit more and more people, a major clue that all was not as it seemed.

The people behind this scam are now facing prosecution in the USA but the sad thing is how many people fell for the lies told by BitClub Network recruiters and who collectively lost £722 million.

Please, let's not fall for another BitClub Network, Eurextrade or MMM Global? Let's make that a New Years Resolution for 2020?

Saturday 21 December 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Shall we name this dressmaker?

In September, I passed by a tailors in Mogoditshane inquiring about the prices for making a dress for a wedding. I showed him the piece of cloth i had, then he told me that he had the material in his storeroom and would charge me P650 if he provides the material. On 21st October, I went back to him with a P300 deposit. I told him I wanted the dress on the 10th November. I asked him when I should come for fitting then he said there was no need when I come on the 10th I will find my dress ready.

On 11th November I passed and he told me on the phone that he wasn't around and the lady he was working with won’t be able to see the dress because they just rearranged their work area. One lady that I found there also who happened to be my home girl told me to check him daily because he isn't a trustworthy person.

[The consumer then tells a VERY long story about this tailor telling her a series of lies about where the dress was and offering a long list of excuses.]

When I told him i wasn't happy with his customer service he told me if I have "the customer is always right mentality" that is not how he operates. Then I asked if he can give me back my deposit because he isn’t able to provide the service I wanted he said he would not do that because he has bought the material with the money.

When I asked for his full names from the lady he was working with, she told me that there was no need to give me because they know him at Mogoditshane kgotla because a lot of people report him there many times. She said if I say I have come to report him they will know who I am talking about. I didn’t hear from him after that, When I called him later that I want my deposit back he told me that he is not going to do that and I can take the matter to court if I want to.

My request from your office is to help me get my P300 deposit back from him and maybe teach him a lesson on the poor service that he is giving.

Clearly this guy is a terrible dressmaker but a highly accomplished liar and cheat. If he’s such a popular figure at the kgotla, that’s all we need to know about him.

I contacted him and asked for his reaction to your allegations and he gave me the silent treatment as well. So, it’s very simple. I will be naming this dressmaker on Facebook the day after this article if published unless he sorts this situation out promptly. Let’s see if he wants to be famous there as well as at the kgotla?

Forex trading warning.

We’ve been asked several times recently about our feelings about forex trading. Is it a good idea?

Firstly, I’m not talking about the foreign exchange business conducted by banks and bureaux de change that we use when we go to another country if we want foreign currency before we travel. I’m talking about foreign exchange trading where people like you and me buy and sell currencies online, betting that we’ll be buying currencies that will increase in value compared to the currencies we used to buy them.

If you’re on Facebook you’ve almost certainly seen posts and entire pages and groups devoted to persuading us that this is a way ordinary people like you and me can make lots of money by trading forex. Be careful. Be very careful.

This is an incredibly high-risk activity. I have met a few people who make a little money from it but I haven’t yet met anyone who makes a living from it. Instead I’ve met a lot of people who have LOST a lot of money. Firstly, that’s because the risks are very high. Secondly, it’s because forex trading is a hugely competitive business. Every time you sell a foreign currency, someone else must buy it. Every time you want to buy, there must be a seller. And while these other people might be just like you and me, they could also be a bank, a pension fund or a specialist forex trading company. It could even be the company you’re using to do the trading.

And then there are the scams. The forex trading industry is dominated by scammers doing their very best to steal our money. In the past month I’ve heard from someone who lost P36,000 in a forex scheme. That was surpassed by the story I heard from another consumer who “invested” P500,000 in a forex trading company based in Gaborone but which subsequently disappeared.

I’m sure there will be people who contact me saying these are exceptions, that there are people making money from forex trading and that might be true. However, the truth is that forex trading is fine if you treat it as a hobby and you only use money you can afford to lose without tears. Otherwise it’s a very good way to lose a lot of money very quickly.

Monday 16 December 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my ottoman? Where’s my refund?

I ordered an ottoman amounting to P2,659 on 11th of September 2019 which was supposed to be delivered within 6 weeks, Unfortunately after making payment my order was never placed. I called three weeks after payment following up on the order and was informed it would come 8 weeks later, I didn't get it. I called and it turns out my order was never placed in the first place. They tried to make me get a display model whilst I await the one I had initially ordered and I refused. I told them I want my money back. Unfortunately you can't get it there and then so they make me fill in some forms and ask for my id and official banking details which I gave after giving them a hard time since I was never requested all these things when I was making the purchase. 7 days later no payment no feedback. I literally had to call and nothing has come through till now. The documents for the refund were sent on 14 November.

It’s a fundamental fact about human beings that we all make mistakes. We’re not robots, we’re not computers, we’re fallible. We forget things and we get things wrong. We’re human. Unfortunately, the store you’ve been dealing with seems to be VERY human. They seem to make a LOT of mistakes.

As a consumer you have a right to expect the store to fix their mistakes and then not to make any more of them. Section 14 (1) of the new Consumer Protection Act says that consumer have a right to expect “services in a manner and quality the consumers are reasonably entitled to expect”. We can’t expect miracles and we can’t expect stores never to make mistakes but what I think that means is that we CAN expect a supplier to fix mistakes promptly when they happen. Clearly this store has failed to do that.

I contacted the store and they responded quickly. They told me that you had refused to give them your ID documents but then went to say that “this does not stop us paying her”. We have to ask why they asked for them if they never really needed them?

They continued to say that they would get their Account Department to refund you as soon as possible. Please let me know when that happens?

Where’s my loan?

Help me here sir I’m frustrated. I applied for a loan from my bank around 18th and even today the loan has not been credited. The first week the excuse was that it cannot be approved without digital account opening. I spend two weeks without that account because apparently the system was down. Finally they gave me the debit card but now we are going to the end of another month. Our services in Botswana kills a lot of people dreams. Knowing that normally a loan doesn’t take more than 5 days I laybyed some material for 2,000. I am on the verge of losing that amount because the bank is busy frustrating me. Please help if possible.

The first thing everyone should understand about getting a loan from a bank is that it’s not a right, it’s a commercial decision that a bank takes once they’ve balanced the opportunity of making some money from their customer and the risk of losing money if the customer doesn’t make their repayments. Quite often we hear from customers who have failed to get a loan and complain that the bank was unfair by not lending to them. I often respond by asking them if they are required to lend their money to any friend or acquaintance who asked to borrow money?

However, in your case, they clearly HAVE approved your loan. They gave you a debit card attached to the loan account which suggests to me that they’re prepared to lend to you, but they’re taking their time finalising the process. It’s really not good enough. I’ll contact your bank and see if they can’t speed up a little.

Meanwhile, forgive me for telling you off, but it was very unwise to commit yourself to the lay-bye before you received the loan in your account. Even if you were sure that the loan would be approved, which is never certain, you must always assume that there will be delays before you get the money in your hands.

With luck, the bank will do its best to be more helpful when we contact them.

Saturday 7 December 2019

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

What are my rights?

I would like to make a formal enquiry regarding some goods I purchased on credit. My question is that if the goods get repossessed am I still liable to pay for them? I have asked the store where I purchased them for the contract that we signed when I purchased the goods but I have been told that I will not be furnished with a copy of the contract.

I'd also like to find out if it is legal for them to personally come to my place of employment to collect payment? I have recently moved employers and I hadn't had a chance to update my details however it has been 2 times they have come to my new place of employment. As you can imagine, this was very embarrassing. I made the deal to purchase those goods at the store, not my place of employment.

I would like to find a suitable way of relinquishing the goods if I have to but I'd just like to know what my rights are as a consumer.

Your first question is a simple one. Are you entitled to a replacement copy of the contract you signed? Yes, I think you are. If you were given a copy when you first signed it, then it’s only courteous for the store to offer you a copy. I don’t think that’s unreasonable. If they didn’t give you a copy at the time then yes, you are certainly entitled to a copy with no fuss or argument. If you like I’ll contact the store\s head office and encourage them to be more reasonable.

Next question. Are they entitled to come to your workplace and hassle you and your colleagues? No, I don’t think they are. Section 6 of the new 2018 Consumer Protection Act says that a supplier “shall not use force, coercion, undue influence, pressure, duress, harassment, unfair tactics or any other similar conduct against the consumer, in connection with … the negotiation, conclusion, execution or enforcement of an agreement to supply any goods or services”.

There are some strong words included in that section, things like “force” but I also think that terms like “harassment”, “pressure” and “coercion” apply to this situation. The store is certainly entitled to collect the money you owe them, there’s no doubt about that, but the new Act is very clear that they have to be reasonable when doing this. I’ll also contact them about this and explain that things have changed.

Finally, it’s important that you understand that relinquishing the goods is perhaps the worst thing you could do. The store will auction them for a small fraction of the money you still owe them, and once they add interest, penalties and legal fees, you’ll still owe at least as much as you do now, possibly a lot more.

I suggest that you contact the store and see if you can negotiate a repayment plan that you can afford.

Can they change the date?

I need your advise. I have a loan and the bank used to deduct the monthly instalment as and when my salary was paid. Even when it was way earlier than the date I agreed to on the debit order form. I did not mind until about 3 months ago when I changed jobs. Then they decided to deduct the instalment on the 27th of every month. My new job only paid after the 27th of every month. Due to this, I experienced hefty bank charges of about approximately P500 for 3 months until I went to the bank to enquire. Only then I was told they had decided to deduct on the 27th and I was requested to sign another debit order form.

Is it possible to demand a refund on the bank charges, because I did not consent to the date of the 27th and it greatly inconvenienced me.

This is probably going to be complicated. I know how frustrating it is when a bank decides, without consulting us to change an agreement like this. It’s really not good enough. However, I think the time to object to the bank doing this was when they first did it. Of course, they really should have asked you for permission to change the date but that was the time to contact them and tell them that it wasn’t what you agreed.

As you said, this only became an issue when you changed jobs and the date became a problem. Regrettably, I don’t think the bank can be blamed for this. They had been deducting on the 27th for some time and I imagine they thought this was ok with you. It wasn’t their fault that your circumstances changed.

Nevertheless, I still think it’s worth raising the issue with the bank and getting a commitment from them that the date will be one that works for you, rather than just for them.