Saturday 28 November 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my refund?

I paid for material on Monday 16 November. The material was available and I arranged for collection on a later date which was supposed to be 18 November after making transport arrangements. When I went to collect it the lady at the till told me that they had sold my material and when I asked them if they would deliver they said we would have to call the shop owner on that. We called the shop owner and he cut the call short and also switched off his phone. When I asked the supervisor to give me back my money as well as my transport cost he refused and told me they don't have money in the store to give back to me. I'm running a project in Jwaneng and the material is needed here urgently.

This is unacceptable. Not just a little bit unacceptable but completely unacceptable. It's also incompetent, disrespectful and useless.

You paid for something and had a right to expect what you paid for. That's not difficult to understand. The fact that they later sold the items you had paid for to someone else is a sign of their incompetence and lack of respect. The choices they face are simple. Either they give you exactly the products you paid for or they give you a refund. No excuses, no stories, no fooling around. And the manager refusing to take your calls? It's simple. Never buy from them again and make sure all your friends, relatives, neighbours, workmates, people you meet at parties, passers-by in the street and complete strangers know about your experience. They should only buy from them again when YOU have decided to forgive them.

Meanwhile, let's both attack them from both sides. You keep trying with the manager and the other staff and I'll do the same. Let's get you what you deserve.

Update: It didn't take long. I messaged them explaining how they had let you down and they responded, saying "Tnk u we will refund".

They blacklisted me!

I need your help. I just found out that I have been blacklisted by a furniture store for P15,000. I'm surprised because I have never had an account with them. I decided to check with their branch in Molepolole where I was told the account belonged to another person. The retail store that blacklisted my name is at Palapye and the record even shows an id number that is not mine. This id number belongs to the said person.

I need your intervention because my credit record is ruined by a retail outlet that I have NEVER set my foot in.

Again, this is unacceptable. It's also remarkably simple. Or it should be.

We all understand that mistakes happen, we all make them sometimes and the same is true for the companies we buy things from. They make mistakes too because they employ imperfect human beings like you and me.

However, it's 2020 and I expect there to be ways for companies to prevent mistakes and to fix them when they occur. Surely there are ways of checking who a company registers with a credit reference bureau? Surely they double-check people's identities before they register them? Surely they take a little care before ruining someone's financial reputation?

I contacted the furniture store and alerted them. Obviously they need to check the truth of this and double check their records but I expect them to fix this quickly. Not when they feel like it. Quickly. Hours, not days, not weeks.

They also need to make sure that your credit history isn't just updated, it needs to be cleaned so no record of this mistake can ever be seen again. Your reputation needs to be restored.

Saturday 21 November 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where are my bags?

I need your help here. My bags got lost in a bus in September and the conductor told me not to report at their office because he was not told to help anyone to offload. So he promises to help me locate my bag till today. Then on the 3rd week I searched for their office number and got hold of someone there he promised he will assist. I waited for whatever the help he was to offer but nothing happened. I then decided to call them again and they told me to quantify my clothes of which I did and promised they will pay me. It was after 4 days of me calling them again to ask how far and he told me they can't help because they don't have insurance over whatever gets in their bus.

The question that arises was why did they ask me to quantity and promised to pay then changed and never told me till I called. I told them why don't you pay me and deduct from your conductor since he admitted its his fault. Again I was promised to be paid but never did. I called this morning and asked to talk to their supervisor and the man in the office said he will connect us after 1 but he didn't. I called and he was about to knock off and said he will give my supervisor my number but never did.

How do I go about this? I need your assistance here.

Clearly this company has a problem with communication. And with decision-making. And with taking responsibility for their mistakes. And with customer service. In fact, I wonder whether they should be in business at all.

Here's a serious question. Why don't they have insurance? Do they have any insurance at all? If not, are they insane? What happens if there's a serious accident? What happens if there's a tragedy and a passenger is injured or even killed? Do they have no insurance against that either? Frankly a transport company that doesn't have insurance shouldn't be operating.

And another thing. They should stop changing their mind. They said they'd compensate you and they should do that. They've recognized that it was their conductor's fault and they should take responsibility for that. Personally I don't think the conductor should pay, he's hopefully learned from his mistake and he was acting on behalf of his employer when the mistake happened. Obviously if he does it too often he needs to be dealt with but for now the company needs to step up.

I've also had trouble getting decent feedback from them but maybe seeing the story here will help them do the right thing?

Where's my phone?

I bought a Samsung J6 phone on the 18th May 2019. The price for the phone was P2,495. I used the phone for about six months then it froze while charging it. On the 5th December 2019 I went back to the shop and reported the problem. It was inspected and taken for repair by their technician. They promised that my phone would be fixed within seven working days or I will be given a new phone if fixing does not materialise. The phone was still under warranty of 12 months. From December last year up to date I have not received my phone. They are always narrating stories barring me from seeing the shop owner but failing to give me my phone or a new phone. I always call the shop and sometimes travel to Gaborone to pick up my phone but nothing has ever worked. The always make numerous excuses and promises which they never fulfil.

Please help me. I want my money back because I don't trust the company anymore.

This is completely unacceptable. They promised you a repaired phone within 7 days and instead, on the day this newspaper is published, they will have had it for 350 days. Three hundred and fifty days. That's FIFTY times longer than they promised. That's FIFTY times more useless than they should have been.

The time is now right to be FIFTY times more angry than you already are. I've also contacted the store and between us I think we need to be FIFTY times louder than you have been in the past.

The solution is simple. They promised you a solution with seven days, they've taken three hundred and fifty and now they have a new deadline. Seven HOURS from the time they read this column.

Saturday 14 November 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where are my bricks? And where's my money?

May you kindly assist me with this problem? I bought some stock bricks from a certain supplier in the village where am building. I engaged the inspectors from District Council who upon inspection said the bricks were not strong enough and hence not suitable for building. I informed the supplier

I had already paid a little over P12,000. He promised to refund me. Without my consent, he collected the bricks which I suspect have been sold again but to date I haven't received any monies. This happened in Jul. Kindly asking if you could help me get my money. Thanks in advance. 

There's a word for this. Stealing. You paid for those bricks so they now belong to you. Even though they have been declared unfit for use in your project by your local officials, they still belong to you and anyone who takes your property without your consent or legal authority is a thief. One option you might want to consider is to call the police and lay a charge of stealing. However, that might be a little too extreme and there's a chance that if you get an unsympathetic police officer they might just say it's a civil matter and they can't intervene.

The second option is to use the legal system to help you. You can approach the Small Claims Court about this and they might be able to assist. The good news for us all is that from 18th September this year the amounts the Small Claims Court can consider increased from P10,000 to P30,000 so you have a very good chance of getting your money.

Your third choice is to lodge a complaint with the Competition and Consumer Authority who have the power to demand they supplier fixes this problem or face a fine of up to P100,000, a prison term of up to five years, or both.

Or we could just write about in the nation's most widely read newspaper and then publish it in a Facebook group that has 147,000 members. Which option do you think scares suppliers the most? I think we all know the answer, don't we?

Meanwhile I've already contacted them for you. Let's see what choice they prefer.

P.S. Well done to the Small Claims Court people for increasing our access to justice, it's a great move.

My car is the wrong year!

I have an issue here. I bought a new car having been told it was a 2019 manufactured vehicle but to my surprise the car came as a 2018 model but the sales urgent continued to say it's a 2019 vehicle. Even the registration booked is registered as 2019. Also I insured it as 2019 vehicle. I was surprised to see manufacturer sticker after a year saying it's a 2018 manufactured vehicle. I now feel cheated.

What can I do?

You also have several options. Firstly you can complain to the Competition and Consumer Authority and suggest that this supplier broke Section 5 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act of 2018 when they represented that the vehicle was
"of a particular standard, quality, value, grade, composition, style, model, or that the goods have a particular history". 
You can also mention that they broke Section 10 (a) when they failed to 
"provide information which is accurate, clear and complete in relation to goods and services offered to consumers". 
Finally, if you saw an advertisement for this vehicle you can also claim that they broke Section 7 (6) when they sold you something that was not "not availed as advertised". Breaking all of these rules could get the supplier a fine of up to P100,000, five years enjoying His Excellency's hospitality, or to both.

Or we could just write about this in the nation's most widely read newspaper and then publish it in a Facebook group that has 147,000 members. What do you suggest?

Meanwhile I'll get in touch with them and see if they can't avoid such unpleasantness.

Saturday 7 November 2020

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay?

In June 2020 I applied for a home wifi that was for a term of 36 months. Some time in August they cut my connection because I had missed a month without paying. Around the same time I got connected with another provider as a work benefit. Since I was using the new one I disconnected the old one.

Last week I got a bunch of bills from my mail box and to my surprise I was being billed for the months after the disconnection, without any communication whatsoever. Basically I was being billed for a service I was currently not getting. I immediately went to their office to ask them to stop billing me as I was no longer using the internet. I was told to pay the balance (that is the bills for when I was disconnected) and then I would get disconnected.

Today I went to pay the full balance and asked to be disconnected. A supervisor instructed the technician not to disconnect me saying I should first pay the full amount of the remaining 3 year contract! That is P15,616 that I must pay now in order for them to stop billing me and disconnect!

I would really appreciate it if you could please help me get out of this jam!

Yes, this is a jam. It's a sticky mess that it might be hard to clean.

The simple fact is that you signed a 3-year contract and unless there is some sort of escape clause, termination clause or right to cancel written in the contract then you're stuck. The supplier will argue that both parties entered into the contract freely and without any pressure and with full knowledge of the terms and conditions. However, in real life we all know this isn't the case. I bet the people selling you the contract didn't mention that it was a 3-year contract with no escape. I bet they neglected to tell you that.

However, the good news is that the new Consumer Protection Act might be on your side. Section 24 of the Act says that a supplier "shall ensure that every term and condition in a contract is brought to the attention of the consumer". It goes on to say that the supplier must "explain the implications of the terms and conditions … before the consumer makes a decision to consent to the terms and conditions". Did they do that? Did they explain what every term meant?

Finally, the same section of the Act says that they must ensure that the customer consents "by signing or initialling next to each term and condition that the consumer consents to". I bet they didn't do that, did they?

Let's both get in touch with your supplier and see if they're aware of their new legal obligations. I bet they're not!

Is he real?

I met a guy online two months back, so yesterday he video called me and told that he sent me a package. This morning I received a WhatsApp text from Botswana number telling me that my package from UK has arrived. So the courier wants me to deposit an amount P3,200 in to their orange money account that's when they can deliver the package.

They said "Hello, good morning my name is Michael Adams a diplomatic agent, I just want to inform you that the parcel sent to you from, London UK has arrival botswana Airport and you have to pay p3,200 for the clearance charges, after the payment to the bank I will delivery your parcel to your home address

I am right now Airport ( Botswana) And am in the Cargo departments with a parcel."

So I just thought of scammers. Am I right?

Yes, you most certainly ARE right. There's no doubt this is a scam. But it's a scam with a difference. We've seen these "romantic scams" before when someone claims to send a package and then an "agent" gets in touch demanding money to release the package. We've also seen scams involving Orange Money but this the first time I've seen the two combined. Clearly this is someone with access to Orange Money and I guess that means they're probably in Botswana. We have our own home-grown scammers and while I support local businesses this is NOT something to be proud of.

Whatever you do, don't send anyone any money and make sure you truly understand that nobody in this scam is real, least of all the guy you met online.