Saturday 25 April 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Won’t they pay?

Please help me. I have insured my car and had an accident in Block 10 on the 13th of March. Now I just received an email that they cant help me because I was above speed limit. I was driving at 70. The police they said reckless driving. It was on a curve so someone was in my line with bright lights and I tried to move aside by the road then hit the drain. Is this really fair???

Firstly, I’m glad you had an insurance policy because it’s the smart thing to do. Even a basic vehicle insurance policy will cover you against potentially huge costs. I don’t mean the cost of any damage caused to YOUR vehicle by accident or collision, I mean the costs of damaging someone else’s vehicle. A few years ago we heard of a driver who caused a collision but who had no insurance. His car was destroyed but he also destroyed another driver’s brand new P750,000 Mercedes. Luckily for the other driver, he had an insurance policy so within a few weeks his insurance policy had paid for a replacement Mercedes. He was happy again. Unfortunately, the uninsured driver then received a demand from the victim’s insurance company demanding that he pay them back the three quarters of a million they’d paid out. Was this right, he asked? Yes, we told him, that what happens when you cause an accident and don’t have an insurance policy. You pay the bill.

In your case I think this all depends on what the text of the insurance policy says. Most insurance policies automatically reject claims if, for instance, the driver was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident. It looks like your policy says that claims are rejected if you weren’t obeying the traffic laws at the time of the incident. If you were charged by the Police they might consider that sufficient proof of this.

I’ll contact the insurance company for you and ask them to double check the small print and make sure they’ve taken the right decision.

Please help my sister!

My sister needs help. Sometime in 2009 she applied for a loan from her bank and cleared it in 2013/14. A month ago she applied for a facility to consolidate through another bank and was informed that she had been listed with CRB. Upon inquiring from the first bank, they told her that their records do not show that she cleared that loan. The say back in 2013/14 the loan balance was around 28k, and now it's at 43k

Unfortunately for her, it's been almost 7 years and she can't find her records so she is really at the mercy of the bank. They keep giving her stories that they suspect that the money was deposited into another account.

They are actually saying that they will give her a discount to pay the 43k. But why should she have to pay a loan twice when it is clearly their wrongdoing?

She says the bank never contacted her and she had never changed numbers since she started using it in 2008. They can't explain why there was never any communication from them.

Kindly advise what she can do.

The difficulty here is that it’s the responsibility of both parties to a loan, the borrower and the lender, to make sure that the loan is repaid fully and is settled finally. Very often we assume that the lender, in this case the bank, will get everything right and will keep full and accurate records. The bad news is that banks aren’t always as reliable as we need them to be. Like us, they’re flawed and lose things. It’s why it’s very important to keep bank statements, whether they’re printed or emailed somewhere safe.

I contacted the bank and asked them to take another look and see if they can trace any payments your sister made.

UPDATE: The bank assured me that they would investigate the matter urgently. I then heard from the customer that the bank managed to help her sister and they’ve cleared her name with CRB and emailed her a clearance letter.

Saturday 18 April 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can’t they refund me?

Good day Richard. Please help I sent my brother to a pharmacy in Mochudi to buy blackseed oil and he bought the wrong one. He bought the one for the hair but I wanted the consumable one now they are refusing to return it. I called the assistant who is taking the call and she is so rude. She refused to tell me her name and hanged the phone. I tried calling several times but she is cutting my call. Their boss also refused to take my call they are saying he is busy.

The lady later called saying the boss said they can’t give me cash back rather I take something in the shop. I told them that was the last money I had and I have to buy blackseed oil because I am using it for my sinus infection. I don’t have another money to buy blackseed oil again. I thought I didn’t open it they could refund me since there is nothing I can swap with.

Unfortunately, this is a painful lesson about consumer rights. Consumers don’t have a right to change their minds if they buy the wrong thing. We don’t have a right to take something back if we don’t like it. Most importantly for you, we don’t have a right to return something if we bought it by mistake. The only times we can demand that a store fixes a situation is when they mis-sold something or if it doesn’t work properly. Section 15 (1) of the 2018 Consumer Protection Act says that “A consumer has the right to receive goods which are of good quality, in good working order and free of defects”.

However, in your case the store hasn’t actually done anything wrong. I know it seems difficult, but from what you say, it wasn’t the pharmacy’s fault that your brother chose the wrong product. Of course, a store owned or operated by kinder people would probably be more helpful. As you said, you didn’t open the packet so there’s no good reason why the pharmacy can’t just put it back on the shelf. Unfortunately, not all store owners and managers are as pleasant as we’d like them to be.

Here’s one other minor issue. There is actually no reliable scientific evidence that black seed oil has any real medicinal benefits. Once the lockdown is over it might be worth talking to a doctor if you have persistent sinus problems.

If you send me the contact details for the pharmacy I’d be happy to get in touch and see if they can’t be a bit more charitable.

How can I make him pay?

I need your help regarding someone who has been toying with my emotions while they owe me since last year February. I gave him money to buy me a car from Durban. At first he brought me a rundown Vitz and I didn't accept it upon viewing it. He then took his time until around December (this was supposed to take 3 weeks at most) when he brought me another rundown car that I only used for 2 days and returned it back to him upon which I told him to refund me because I didn't want to deal with him anymore. He had asked for 26k for him to buy me the car. But I had to report him to police at that point because he just took his time to refund me, excuse after excuse. Then when the police called him and he paid 19k and promised to pay the balance within a week but he is now left with P2,500 to pay he keeps saying he will pay. He had promised to pay last Friday but he just does not respond to my calls or messages. He is ignoring me basically but he has the nerve to tell me its nothing but still he is not paying it. Can you please assist me because I don't want him near me any more. I thought of blasting him on the Consumer watchdog page but I know you don't usually encourage that so I kindly seek your intervention here.

I think the key thing here is that you already involved the police. I would go back to them and see if they can’t make another phone call or two and apply some pressure to this guy. However, there are limits to what they can do. They might easily argue that this is a civil matter between two people and that no crime has been committed. You can argue that he obtained “by false pretence” but, to be fair, the Police probably have other things on their agenda right now that they’ll consider more important.

I’ll be happy to get in touch with the guy and see if the knowledge that readers of The Voice are interested in the way he does business motivates him to do a little better.

Monday 13 April 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why can’t they help me?

There is a petrol/fuel station in Serowe that issues receipts/ till slips with a Lobatse address. When I asked for a hand written receipt to present to my employer the stamp they put on it still showed a Lobatse address.

When I queried they told me no one has ever complained about the address. They also said my employer could always call like others do to confirm that I fuelled in Serowe, not Lobatse as per their receipt. I feel this is an inconvenience as calling them would cost time and money. They felt I was being unnecessarily difficult. What's your view on this matter?

I can see that there might be good reasons why the receipts give an address in a different town. It’s likely that the company that owns the filling station in Serowe is based in Lobatse. However, clearly they don’t understand, or don’t care about the impact this has on that minority of customers, like you, who need receipts for claiming expenses from their employers.

Normally I would suggest that we try to persuade the owners of the filling station to consider their corporate customers and find a solution to this that doesn’t inconvenience them so much. However, from what you say, that’s not something they seem to care about.

The better solution is to find another filling station in Serowe, one that is a little friendlier. They deserve your money more than these guys.

Who must pay?

I am in need of your advice.

On the 18th of March I received a phone call from a debt collector that they have been engaged by my college for collection of my outstanding debt.

Please note that I made a transfer of the outstanding P6,000 to the college on the 3rd of March and as per the email the gentleman who called me from the debt collector he says the college handed me over on the 4th of March. This is the same thing that the gentleman at the college told me and I questioned him and he did they tell me that they are handing me to debt collectors and he said to no however they will rectify that and to that they handed me my clearance letter and I collected my certificate.

I sent an email to ask now who is going to cover the debt collector's fees and to date there is no response. Now I am getting constant phone calls from the debt collector to pay the P1,300 else it is accumulating interest monthly. Please advice on way forward on this matter.

It’s normal practice for companies to pass on the costs of collecting debts to the people who owe them money and that can sometimes be a lot of money. Firstly, that’s just a fair thing. It’s not the fault of the company that you owe them money or have failed to keep to your side of an agreement. They’re entitled to get their money from you. It’s also what you agreed when you signed your contract with them. If you look closely, you’ll find that the contact has a clause saying that if you fall behind with your payments they’re entitled to take whatever legal action they see fit to recover the money they’re owed. That will include engaging debt collectors, of if that fails, instructing attorneys to come after you.

However, in your case, things might be different. You paid your debt before they engaged the debt collectors that are chasing you. Furthermore, they admitted they’d made a mistake and promised to rectify the situation. It’ now up to them to honour their promise and sort this situation out for you.

I suggest that you first contact the college and tell them that you hold them responsible for fixing this situation. Tell them that you will telling the debt collectors the same thing. Then you should contact the debt collectors and tell them that you have disputed the debt collection charges with the college and that you are holding them responsible for the problem. Insist that they record in their files.

I’ll also get in touch with the college and see if I can encourage them to help fix this situation.

Sunday 5 April 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where’s my laptop?

On the 29th of January I bought a laptop from some guys for P1,500. They told me that it needs a few software updates and promised that it will be okay after I update them. I took it with me and tried to update the software but it failed even after a lot of attempts. I returned back to them and we agreed that they'll take it, update it and return it. As I speak it's been more than a month now, they are playing hide and seek with me, refusing to give me a different laptop or to refund me if at all they don't have a laptop that is functioning well. The beginning of this week they told that they have a different laptop but I have to top up with P500 to get it. I found the money and they're refusing to meet with me reasons being they are busy and they don't know when they'll give me the laptop. On the issue of refund they don't want to tap on it, they avoid it by all means. So please I need your help. I really need that laptop to type and submit my assignments since that's the only option that we have right now. I'm afraid to go out to internet caf├ęs, mingling with people yet we have been told to stay home.

I think these people are behaving very badly. You, on the other hand are behaving responsibly but the time has come to become impatient and angry. You’ve already paid them more than the original agreed price for a laptop that works. They’ve already delivered one to you that didn’t. I suspect that this business about software updates is a distraction to cover up the fact they don’t know what they’re doing.

I think you should tell them that they have a couple of days to deliver the better laptop. Tell them that if they don’t then they should offer you a complete, immediate refund or you’ll take legal action to get your money back. Send me their details and I’ll get in touch with them as well and maybe the added pressure will make them see sense and behave properly?

Can’t they reverse it?

I have a problem. Yesterday there was a transaction of INR 27,069 from my bank account using my debit card while I was in possession of the card at the time and I was in Kanye not India. I reported the matter immediately with the Banks helpline but they said they could not reverse the international transaction because the money was already debited from my account, they said I should submit an affidavit from Police then they can investigate how they funds were debited and by who. I need your assistance coz it's not even 24hrs since it happened and I wanted to know if there is no way that the transaction cannot be cancelled and funds returned to the account. I have never used this card to buy anything online as they have been questioning since yesterday.

I got my statement yesterday and it doesn't reflect the transaction. However it reflects that I have funds pending because the closing balance and the actual balance are different and the difference is the amount missing from my account, meaning the funds have not cleared to wherever they are going

The first time I called the customer helpline they said it could take up to 48 days. but when I went there yesterday the lady who was assisting me said she will call me on Monday and advise about going to report the case to the Police.

I honestly thought since it's an international transfer they could stop the transaction going thru and clear the funds back into my account but they said they couldn’t.

I’m glad that you quickly reported the matter to the bank because until that point they’ll hold you liable for any losses you experience. Now at least there’s a chance they can intervene and prevent the payment going through to whoever stole your money. However, you also need to think very carefully about whether it’s possible that you gave away your card details. Have you been asked to enter them online at all in the last few days?

Meanwhile, I’m shocked that the bank say that it can take 48 days to check this out. I have no idea why a competent bank needs that much time to investigate a transaction.

The good news is that the payment seems not to have been completed yet. The fact that you alerted the bank early is in your favour but I’ll get in touch with the bank to see if they can go a little faster.