Saturday, 25 March 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

They lost my bags!

I boarded a bus from Kasane to Gaborone on March 14th. My bag was loaded in the bus storage without a tag. I inquired about the tag and was told they are running out of tags but our luggage is safe. My bag was missing when I arrived. The conductor traced it and established that the bag was taken by someone in Francistown. In fact it was stolen because this person is said to be moving around stealing bags from buses. The conductor said that they are still investigating to see if they can recover the bag.

I am writing to seek advice from you because I have been inconvenienced.


I think you've been more than just inconvenienced. I think you're being mistreated and abused.

Clearly the bus company have been negligent by not caring for your property adequately. Section 14 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that when a company offers services (such as transporting you and your luggage from Kasane to Gaborone) they must do so "in a manner and quality that consumers are reasonably entitled to expect". I think it's reasonable to expect a bus company to take reasonable care of our belongings and I think it's reasonable for them to have luggage tags if that helps them do this.

If their claim that someone stole your belongings is correct, then where is your copy of the police report? Where are the updates from the police investigation? Or is it possible they haven't even reported the theft?

And if they already knew that there's someone stealing bags from buses why aren't they focussing more on security? Why are they being so careless?

Unfortunately, when we spoke you told me that you didn't have any household insurance policies that might have covered the cost of replacing your lost belongings. But where is the bus company's insurance policy? Have they mentioned that? Is it possible that they don't have insurance? If not, why not?

I've contacted the bus company. Let's see how they're prepared to fix this. 

Update: The bus company responded saying that they "just got the phone number of the suspect we're planning a trip to francistown to report the matter since the bag was stolen there". Let's see what happens next?

The insurance policy won't cover me!

Can you please help me here. I bought a television last year around June. Around December while I was at work two unknown men came to my house and told my son that his mom told them to come and collect the TV for repair.

I reported it to Broadhurst police and they provided me with a police report and I submitted it to the store. After that they gave me a letter telling me that their insurance doesn't cover that kind of theft. So I have to continue paying the instalments. Is this fair?


No, it's certainly not fair. But it is the way these things work.

When you buy things on hire purchase the deal usually includes an insurance policy that covers you against the theft or destruction of the goods you're buying. However, there are several problems with these policies.

Firstly, they're incredibly expensive, often several times more expensive than a normal household insurance policy you could get for yourself from an insurance company. It's always better to get your own policy and then use that to cover any goods you buy from the store. The store is required to allow you to do this.

Secondly, there are restrictions hidden in the small print of the policy that it seems they forgot, or chose not to tell you about. One of them is that the insurance against theft usually says that it only covers theft when there's a break-in, when there's been forceable entry. It doesn't cover the sort of con that you experienced.

And then there's the final problem, the final insult. You do still need to continue paying the instalments, even though you don't have the television any longer. That's because it's what it says in the agreement you signed.

Saturday, 18 March 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

They can't fix my phone!

Last year on the 20th of September I bought a phone from a store at Rail Park Mall. After 5 days I took it back as it was giving me problems. Upon returning it they say it's a software problem and they took it and told me to wait 45 minutes for it which I did and took it home but it still gave me problems.

This year on the 27th of January I took it back again and they told me to come back after 3 working days. I did and was told to come after two more days as it was not ready. I went back on Saturday and they told me something about IMEI which I didn't understand. They told me they would call me back which they never did. I had to call them almost every day and was told one lie after the other until this past Sunday I called them again and spoke to the guy who is the technician and he said I should give him a few days. He said they ordered a new software and he'll call me back. That hasn't happened until today.

It's still under warranty and I have all the receipts with me.


I'm beginning to lose patience with cellphone stores. Almost every day we hear from another customer with a story very similar to yours. They spend often large amounts of money on phones that almost immediately fail. I know that all technology brands have occasional failures but this is happening way too often.

I suspect what you do, that some of these stores are importing refurbished and second-hand phones and selling them as new. That's illegal, contrary to Section 13 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act which says that a supplier who:
"offers used goods shall inform a consumer that the goods sold are used goods by … placing a label on the goods that indicates that such goods are used goods (and) placing a notice on the invoice issued to a consumer". 
Do these suppliers not know that the penalty for not doing this is "a fine not exceeding P50 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to both"? 

I'm locked out of Facebook!

My Facebook account was hacked and thieves are using it talking to my friends as if its me. My friend's Facebook account was hacked so I thought I'm talking to my friend, I gave out all my details, they managed to create a new password and logged me out.

Now they are giving away a WhatsApp phone number so that people can make Orange money and send them money. They are updating Facebook status using my Facebook account, as soon as my friends reply they ask them to send P1,000 to that orange money number.

I don't have access any more, they changed the password, deleted my email address and phone numbers which were linked to the Facebook account, so I can't reset the password because there is no how the reset code can be sent.

Who can help me trace the number?


I'm sorry, I don't have any good news to give you. What you've experienced is a very common thing these days. People voluntarily give away their Facebook ID and password and before long their account has been hijacked like yours. The scammers who do this can then pretend to be you and contact all your friends trying to scam them.

Why do people do this? Why do they hand over their details? They do so most often because they've been offered money. If you're on Facebook you'll have seen posts offering prizes for answering the silliest of questions. When you answer the question, hoping to win the prize, the scammer demands access to your Facebook profile to "validate" your prize. They then try to sign on to your Facebook account, clicking the button for when you've forgotten your password. When Facebook send you the OTP code, the scammers will ask for it and then they're in. They'll immediately change the password and you're locked out. Forever.

Just think what a scammer can learn about you from your Facebook profile. It's not only your posts they can see, it's also all of your private messages, the images you've shared and exchanged, and who knows what else. Would you be comfortable with a total stranger having access to all of this?

Unfortunately, the only practical solution is to create another Facebook profile. And to be much more careful in future.

Saturday, 11 March 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Should I cancel the deal?

About 2 months ago I entered into a hire purchase agreement with one furniture store. My financial position since the time I entered into this agreement has changed and I decided to cancel the agreement to lessen my financial burden. I understand as per the hire purchase act I can validly terminate the hire purchase agreement provided I return the goods to the seller.

Now the issue is the seller has not been cooperative in helping me terminate. I asked about the fees and penalties for early termination and she insists I have to pay half of the total amount that was due to be paid at the end of the contract. The value of the goods was P11,798. The total contract price on hire purchase is P21,557. I paid the initial deposit of P,1180, then two months instalments of P899, total of P2,978.

She said I have to pay P10,778.

The hire purchase agreement does not provide for early termination and I'm not sure where I can get an accurate estimate of how much I should pay to terminate. Please assist.


You probably know already what I think about hire purchase. It's a terrible way to buy things. Why? It's expensive and hugely risky. Even if everything goes right and you pay every instalment you'll probably pay twice the cash value of the items you're buying. The small print of the agreement contains something the store will probably forget to tell you, that the goods you're buying don't even belong to you, they belong to the store until you make the final payment. That's why it's called 'hire' purchase. Until that last payment you're hiring the goods.

They'll probably also neglect to tell you that you can't change your mind and walk away from the deal. You certainly can't sell the goods because remember they don't belong to you yet? In your case the numbers they've quoted to allow you to settle are extreme. You're only 2 months into the repayment period of 2 years and they want you to pay 60% of the total contract amount. And don't forget that those amounts are AFTER they have taken your goods back. You'll be paying for something you'll never see again.

My concern is that if you're already in financial difficulty, which is the best choice for you? Either you find almost P11,000 or you keep paying P899 every month for the next 22 months. I suspect the P899 each month might be more affordable. At least you'll eventually own something instead of paying for nothing.

Who opened the policy in my name?

Hello, I am asking for your help. I recently realized that an insurance company has made deductions from my account. Upon requesting them what the deductions were for since I don't have any policies registered with them, I was informed that their agent has opened some policies with my details without my consent.

I called them after receiving my online payslip I was told to call sales to hear about the policy but the number didn't go through so I called again after a few hours and I was told that my policies were opened in November but I didn't sign any document or fill any document to join any policy.

They said my complaint was sent to the relevant office and they will call me. They said it will depend on how many cases they have.

They are currently asking me to cancel the policies which I have no idea of. My view is that I did not sign any contract with them so I can't cancel anything I have no idea of. Please help me as I consider this fraud.


This is completely unacceptable. Instead of asking you to wait for them to deal with other cases, they should be addressing your situation immediately and urgently. A crime has been committed and the insurance company needs to take this matter seriously.

If this agent falsely opened a policy for you then the insurance company need to involve both NBFIRA and the Police.

Update: the consumer was refunded everything and the insurance company told him that the agent had been fired. Is that good enough?

Saturday, 4 March 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Should they compensate me?

Good day Richard. I need some assistance. In January 2022 I bought a couch on credit. It was a 1 year account. The 1st month the instalment was not taken as they had my account number incorrect. On the last month which was December 2022 the stop order also failed.

They contacted me and I made an arrangement with them to pay P2,000 out of the P3,800 that was remaining in January and the remaining P1,800 in February. However after paying the P2,000 as agreed they still took a stop order of P1,900 from my account. As a result my other stop orders failed and my account went into negative.

I queried it with them to point out they had inconvenienced me however they are offering no resolution.
If possible I will like them to pay the bank charges for the failed stop orders.


I think you're being perfectly reasonable. This company, who clearly can't organise something as simple as a stop order for a year, massively inconvenienced you. They started by not being able to get your account number correct and then for some other silly reason neglected to take your final payment. By January of this year you should have been finished with them and enjoying the couch that finally belongs to you. Instead they decided to make your life difficult and expensive.

They owe you the costs of this inconvenience. I'll contact them about this and remind them of their responsibilities. Let's hope they have a conscience.

Where's her fridge?

Mr. Harriman, I'm kindly requesting for your assistance. My mom, a 67 year old bought a business fridge in February 2022 to use in a tuckshop. Last year the fridge just switched off while still on warranty. She informed the shop and they took months to come and inspect and take action. Finally they did take the fridge this year January and the warranty is ending in February. They have been saying they are repairing the fridge as they were not in a position to replace. At the moment they are saying the warranty is almost finished so they may not do anything.

As we speak my old mother has lost supplying her business with cold beverages and this is what used to sustain her. All this is happening at Maun and my mom lives in a village 100km away. She spends a lot of money calling and traveling to do inquiries which are futile. Kindly advise on what steps we can do as I feel this issue is stressing my mom and it's been contributing to the rise on her blood pressure.


Yes, we can all understand why this would increase your Mum's blood pressure. It raised mine as well when I read your message. How dare they treat her like this?

The facts are simple. Any faults that emerge during the warranty period must be addressed in one of three ways. The store can either replace the fridge, repair it or refund your Mum, but it's important to understand that they can choose which option they prefer. They can choose to repair the fridge if they think that's the best option. However, they can't take too long doing this. Section 14 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that when:
"a supplier undertakes to perform any services for or on behalf of a consumer, the consumer has a right to … timely performance and completion of those services (and) timely notice of any unavoidable delay".
"Timely" is the word they should try to understand. Is it too difficult for them?

And then there's this idea that the end of the warranty period is approaching and they no longer need to help your Mum. They can STOP that right now and NEVER say those words to her again. The fault occurred during the warranty period and that's all that matters. If they want to make up unlawful and silly rules that satisfy their needs instead of your Mum's they might learn some very unpleasant lessons when consumers hear about this.

Do they really want to be seen as an organisation that ignores the law and common decency?

Saturday, 25 February 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my laptop?

I bought a laptop from a store in Game City in August 2022. The laptop had a 1 year warranty. I then realised that the laptop does not have network drivers. I was far in Lobatse and needed to use it for school work but I got the drivers installed. Around September I realised that the battery lasts for only an hour. I felt that this is too much now and I contacted the store for assistance. They took the laptop with the claim that they are going to fix it. On my return, they told me it was not the battery. It was the capacitors and they had changed them. However the battery remained the same. I kept on following the store and they claimed they have ordered the battery and it will arrive in the second week of January 2023. The second week of January arrives and there is no battery. They again took my laptop to go and fix it. It got worse. The technician left a screw inside which short-circuited the charging system. Right now, the laptop works well connected to the power only. I approached them and what I got is that I should fix the laptop, buy a new battery and they will refund. I'm so exhausted because of these guys. Please help me.


This is a complete mess. Can this store do ANYTHING right?

Firstly they sold you a laptop that wasn't "in good working order and free of defects" as required by Section 15 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act. Any new or even second-hand laptop should have the basic network drivers, the bits of software that allow it to connect to the world. Clearly there's something suspicious about this device if it can't even connect in 2023.

Then there's the issue of the battery. New laptops these days have batteries than can last for several hours and the battery in yours only lasted an hour when you bought it? That's not good enough. And now let's add in the incompetence of their staff who leave a loose screw inside the laptop that caused further damage.

Finally there's their suggestion that YOU need to fix the laptop and get a new battery. That's crazy. It's not just the laptop that has a screw loose, it's the store management as well. It's their job to fix this issue. I contacted the store and they told me that the battery "will be replaced this week". They later told me again that "it shall be done this week".

Not true. A week later, there's still no solution.

I'll contact the store one last time. I saw that you posted a complaint in the Consumer Watchdog Facebook group which named the store. Maybe that will motivate them to fix this issue finally?

Who did it?

Since last year I have experienced P214 disappearing from my husband's account every month. In early January when I went to withdraw money it showed there was no money. I called the bank but they could not give me an answer. Last night we discovered after calling the bank, they said it's Netflix.

The lady at the bank was saying they can't reveal who did this but I heard that bank staff can do this?


There's good news and there's bad news.

The good news is that you later told me that you had spoken online to Netflix and after you explained the situation they said they would refund 12 months of monthly subscriptions. That's clearly good news. It also suggests to me that Netflix understand that sometimes people's accounts are misused and they're prepared to do something about it. Never underestimate what an international brand will do to protect its reputation.

Now for the bad news. Your credit card has been compromised. Someone has used your card to purchase a Netflix subscription. Yes, it's possible someone in the bank did this but there's a much more likely explanation. It's someone who had physical access to your card. Maybe it was a waiter in a restaurant, a cashier in a supermarket or someone in a store where you swiped for some airtime.

However, it's much more likely it was someone you know. I've heard of this situation many times before and it's almost always a family member or a friend who did this. The first thing you should do is ask your bank for replacement cards with different numbers and different CVV numbers. Then you have a choice. Ask some serious questions of everyone you know. Or pretend this never happened. It's not a choice I envy.

Saturday, 18 February 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

They took my supplements!

Kindly help with information on which authorities I can inquire from or rather report to. At the border police officers confiscated my non-medicinal fruit supplements because they said they don't recognize what they are. Initially they said I should take them back to SA, which I was willing, seeing that if I did not I could lose them. Then they called each other on the side and decided they were taking them.

They did not give me a document showing that they took my things and I took a picture of their form, and they asked me to delete (of course I backed it up) and threatened to look for me if I posted it.

A health representative who took goods because she doesn't recognize them yet wrote banned goods. I believe I have a right to at least take them back or get a form that indicates that they have confiscated my goods for a specific reason.


I'm a big believer in rules and procedures but they need to be followed fairly, openly and respectfully.

Let's begin with the supplements. We have very strict rules in Botswana on the importation of medicines and supplements and BoMRA, the Medicines Regulatory Authority publish on their web site a very long list of the various products that have been approved. You should start by seeing if these supplements are on the list. You also need to consider how much of these supplements you brought across the border. Was it just a small quantity or an amount that might appear to be suspicious?

Then we need to talk about the conduct of the officials at the border. They were within their rights and doing their job by inspecting products brought across the border but that doesn't allow them to ignore your rights and treat you like a criminal. You deserved to be given a receipt and a reasonable explanation for why your goods were seized. I suggest you speak to the right people in Immigration and get their feedback.

Will they give me a refund?

I need your help. Last year November I registered my son at a private school. I paid the registration fee of P200, the development fee of P2,000 and stationery P250. In December I got a job in Gaborone so I had to relocate together with my son.

Then in January just before school was reopening, I wrote them an email requesting for a refund but till today they tell me stories every day and they say the development fee is non-refundable and they can only refund me P250 for stationery.. But my son never attended even a single lesson in their school. They are even failing to help understand how the development fee is non-refundable.

I thought it can only be non-refundable if at least he attended at their school then later transferred. They are still falling to refund the P250 that they said they can refund and this is the second month since I requested for a refund. I call them every day and it's stories all the time.

Please help me, I need them to refund me.


I suspect you'll be out of luck.

It's normal practice for private schools to charge various fees when you first sign up your child as a pupil. There's often a registration fee that covers the paperwork and a development fee that contributes towards the development of the school, things like new buildings, sports facilities and technology. I think most private schools do this.

Then there's the agreement you signed with the school. If you check the agreement I'm sure you'll find a statement saying that those fees are non-refundable. That's assuming you signed it?

If you think about it, at least some of this is reasonable. The school reserved a place for your child that could have been given to another child. Your decision not to go through with your agreement isn't their fault, is it?

Meanwhile they should stop delaying with the amount they said they'd refund you. I'll contact them for you.

Saturday, 11 February 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

What can I do?

I bought a phone in December, a Huawei Mate 10 Lite. It was new from the box.

It started expanding the battery and opening on the side and it cracked the screen by itself. So I went to return it this morning and they said if I returned it they will take 30% from the P2,000 I bought the phone with and they'll give me P1,400.

So I am asking if is the right process they are taking? I don't know if they are supposed to give me a new phone or refund me my money.

I need help.


Yes, you need help. But so does the store. They urgently need to learn some important lessons about consumer rights. And it's our job to teach them.

Your homework is to go back to the store and teach them what they need to do.

Firstly, explain to them that this phone clearly has an old battery which leads us to wonder whether it's really a new phone? Given that this model is 5 years old, it's fair to ask if it was really new? Teach them that Section 13 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that a supplier selling used goods must disclose that clearly at the point of sale. Failure to do so can lead to a fine of up to P50,00 or a prison term of up to 3 years. Or both.

Secondly, they need to learn from you that a supplier who sells faulty goods, and an expanding battery that cracks the screen is definitely faulty, must repair it, replace it or refund the customer if they return it within 6 months after buying it. There are no fees to be paid for this. None. Given that this phone is wrecked, I don't think a repair is a suitable choice. It's either a replacement or a refund.

The third lesson is simple. Do they want the public to know how they ignore the law and treat their customers with contempt? I hope they don't. Consumers can end a business very quickly if they exercise their rights and take their money elsewhere. 

Update: The store saw sense. She got a new phone.

Where's my refund?

May you kindly assist me with my security company. In January 2022 I got into a contract with them for alarm installation and security service provision. However, after months of paying monthly subscriptions of P550 I realised the alarm was inactive because of wrong installation issues. I reported the matter to management who rectified the problem and promised 3 free months to make up for that. However they continued with monthly deductions despite this communication through email and phone call.

I am always the one calling making follow ups. They never bother to engage me as their client. This persists because the contractual agreement was made through debit order and I couldn't cancel the transaction at the bank and payment suspension can only happen from their accounts office. The agreement was they refund me 2 months and suspend payment for December. They only suspended payment for December when I was furious with them. As for the refund they are refusing to fulfil their promise. They claim they have paid but when I request for proof of payment they won't produce it and they keep on saying they are confirming. Now they are no longer taking my calls.

I would be grateful if you can assist since it has been months of cat and mouse game with this security company.


The bad news is that I've had a few complaints about this company in recent weeks. The good news is that I'm sure they'll do their best to fix this. I hope the owners are experienced business people who know how to do things correctly, and that the problem is the staff lower down who don't fully understand the commitment that needs to be made to fixing problems.

I'll alert the management and I'm sure this will be fixed very quickly.

Wednesday, 8 February 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can I get a refund after 2 years?

I paid P1,000 for long sight eye lenses at an optician and did not get my spectacles because they didn't have any frames that I liked, They said they don't have stock because of Covid. This was in 2020. They advised me to go and decide if I'll just take what's available then or wait for new frames. It happened that I was away for some time and I still needed specs so I went to a different optician where I was.

I paid for both lenses and frame with this new optician and got my specs. So this year I decided to go back to my previous optician to tell them I managed to get both lenses and frame from a different optician and I requested for a refund. They refused to refund me for the lenses that I paid for but didn't use. They are saying there is a 3 months period which long elapsed that's why I don't qualify for refund and it's shocking because they never communicated this information the time when I paid for the lenses. Can you help me get my refund?


I think you might be out of luck. Firstly, we need to ask what the first optician did in 2020? Did they do an eye test for you? Did they start to produce the lenses for you? Did they spend that P1,000 getting lenses for you? How much work did they for you?

Then you went quiet on them. For more than 2 years. Is it their fault that you disappeared after they did some work for you?

You later told me that they had given you a receipt but you lost it. I wonder whether that receipt had small print that explained this 3-month period? It's hard to know after all this time.

I think the best thing to do is to ask the first optician for a copy of their standard receipt and then ask them if they might reconsider giving you a refund of the P1,000 you paid them. However, I think we both know what their answer will be.

Can I exchange it again?

Hello Mr Richard you once really helped me around 2021 so I am here once again asking for your help. I bought a polo v-neck T-shirt worth P300 at a store in Game City the size being large for my friend. Unfortunately it was too small, he stays in Jwaneng we then changed it there taking extra large which also did not fit.

Now I took it back to where I first bought it explaining that I would like to return it and top up taking a different one but they refuse to help saying you can only change an item once which is something customers don't have information about. Please please help me we can't keep something that doesn't fit when there could be a solution. Please help. I want to top up and take a different one.

I told them am topping up with P150 to get the other 1 worth P450 because the one I bought was P300. Please ask them to just help. I understand their procedure but I was not aware of it. I plead with them to allow me to top up.


Let's start at the beginning. We consumers don't have a right to change our minds. When we buy something that's in a good condition we don't have a right to take it back because we don't want it any longer. We're only allowed to take something back if it's faulty or if it was mis-sold. That includes buying things following false advertisements or if the seller lied about what the product was or the purposes it could serve.

Of course there are some stores that offer a lot more than that, particularly with clothing. They allow you to return something if it's still in perfect condition. But that's not a right, just excellent customer service.

In this situation you've chosen one of the better stores. The first t-shirt you bought was the wrong size for your friend and they allowed you to exchange it for a larger version. Good service, don't you think?

But a second time? Are they really expected to do allow you to exchange it again? In normal circumstances I'd probably say no, you're asking too much. However, I think that because you've offered to top up the amount they should probably consider it.

I'll get in touch with them and see if they can be a bit more flexible.

Saturday, 28 January 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my plan?

I need help with the owner of a consultancy and locating him if possible. I paid for a service to get help with a business plan and so far paid a total pf P1,515. The total was supposed to be P1,900 and I paid half of it on the 4th of January, then he messaged on the 7th of January saying he needs an extra 375 because he wants to secure letters of intent and sub contracts.

On Friday on the day he said the documents were ready for collection but he said he needed P190 for printing and I asked why he keeps asking for money when I'm supposed to pay 50% deposit and I unfortunately bought the excuse of expenses.

He claimed he was done and we should meet at Masa for collection but never showed up after waiting for hours. He messaged me later in the evening saying we should meet Saturday and when I kept calling that day, he never answered his phone nor his messages. I said I would like a refund. I have realised that his so called consultancy is a scam and he has taken my money through false pretences.


The bad news is that I've dealt with this company before, a few times and the stories were all very similar. This company is paid money to deliver business services but they fail to do so. And then they go quiet.

The last time heard from this company they reacted badly to a post in the Consumer Watchdog Facebook group. They suggested that the money they owed an earlier customer would be paid only when I removed the post criticising them. This is always a bad move. Telling a customer that they will only get service when they stop complaining is not the way to build a successful company. In fact it's the best way to form a company that either fails or has Directors going to jail.

And now I hear about him again. This time he told me that the business plan "is ready for collection just that we failed to meet up with her due to our delayed appointments and meetings. We can surely meet her up on Monday or send it via email as well on Monday."

And then on the Monday he said: "we have emailed her business plan, please confirm if she has received it before we knock off."

There's only one problem. She didn't receive it. There's no sign it was ever sent. I think we should give him one last chance to send the plan before we escalate this.

A warning for Facebook users (again)

It's important that this message from 2022 is repeated. This problem isn't going away.

Many of the people running scams on Facebook look like real people, perhaps even people we know. That's because they ARE the profiles of people we know. It's family members, friends, workmates or strangers but these are their real profiles which have been taken over by scammers.

How do they take over people's Facebook profiles? It's a lot simpler than people think. The accounts aren't "hacked", the hackers don't have amazing technological skills, it's much simpler. They get the login details and passwords simply by asking for them. And the victims hand them over without any protest.

What makes them do this? Money.

Late last year a real Facebook profile tried to post this message in the Consumer Watchdog Facebook group: "I will help 20 people with P700 who can complete the word that start with M and end with D." I contacted the poster asking if was true. They told me "before we proceed on the giveaway to tell you that we are doing this giveaway for the people that are serious and really in the need of money hope you understand?" They then asked for my name and basic details, including my email address and cell number and then said: "you will receive a confirmation code now, send it to me immediately so we can verify your account for the giveaway".

That code is the one Facebook sends to someone who has forgotten their password. If they get that code they could change your Facebook password, take over your account, and then use it to run their scams.

Please don't fall for this. Do you really want to give away your Facebook identity to a scammer that all your friends and relatives will think is you?

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I keep the packaging?

Hello Richard

I need your advice. I bought a chain saw in December 2022, it started at shop but when I got home and tried to start it failed. I went back to the shop and after a number of attempts it started. Unfortunately it couldn't start the following day and I decided to return it and demanded a refund.

The manager has a condition that I should bring the packaging to qualify for a refund. Unfortunately my dogs destroyed the packaging. The saw is currently at the shop. Please advise.


There are several issues here. Firstly, can you demand a refund? The answer is No, a customer doesn't normally have the right to demand a refund. What he have a right to demand is a solution. But often there are several possible solutions to a problem like this and they all begin with 'R'.

When a product is faulty, a consumer has a right to one of the three 'R's: a repair, a replacement or a refund. However, it's up to the store to decide which they offer. The store can decide to repair the faulty item instead of immediately offering you a replacement or a refund. But they can't take too long about it. Also, if a supplier decides to repair the faulty item and the same problem happens again within the next 3 months, they lose the right to repair it again. At that stage they can only offer us a replacement or a refund.

Then there's the issue of the packaging. I'm sure we've all heard this before, a store demanding that we keep the box that the item comes in. But why? Is that reasonable? I don't think so.

This excuse is about the store wanting a simple life, it's not about customer service or our consumer rights. It's probably about the manufacturer making silly demands on the stores and them passing this on to us. I don't think it's reasonable for a store to demand we keep the packaging for the things we buy. I also think it's a way for the store to evade their obligations and to force us to waive our rights, both of which are forbidden by Section 23 of the Consumer Protection Act.

If you like I'll contact them for you.

Is it 5 years or 3 months?

I need to know something about guarantees.

My question is if I buy machine for Bosch and on the package is written 5 years guaranteed and I buy it and the shop say they only give 3 months at their shop? so can you help so that I can know? Knowledge is power.


I agree. Knowledge is one of the greatest powers. And you are about to be more powerful than this shop ever will be.

They're lying. Or perhaps they're ignorant. Probably both.

If you do a web search about Bosch guarantees and warranties you'll see that they offer guarantees that range from 1 year up to 5, depending on the item you buy. That's no surprise, Bosch is a hugely reputable German brand that has been operating for 137 years and I imagine has a great commitment to quality.

Unlike this store, who have a very different approach to quality. If they're offering only a 3-month guarantee they're trying to hide something and I'm sure we can guess what. This product is either second-hand, illegally acquired or a fake. Or, this is just the laziest, least respectful store in the country.

They're also ignorant about the Consumer Protection Act which says in Section 5 (j) that a supplier "shall not, in relation to the marketing of goods or services, by way of words or conduct falsely represent … the existence, exclusion or effect of any condition, warranty, guarantee, right or remedy". By placing a box on a shelf that says the item has a 5-year manufacturer's guarantee and then saying something else when you buy it, they're breaking the law.

Shall I tell them or will you?

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

What are my rights?

I bought a Levi's shirt on the 23rd of December at a store in Francistown. I went home and it was a bit big. I had to wait until after Christmas to return it, which was on the 27th.

I was told by the shop that they don't do refunds so I must look for something else in the shop. As there was no smaller size of the same shirt and they don't do refunds I looked around and I couldn't find anything I was interested in. I told them that means I had to leave with the same shirt and my heart was broken. Mr Harriman may I know what my rights are in regards to refunds if am not happy with items I bought? Their condition of no refund is written on the receipt that you only see after you pay.


A refund is one option but only when an item is faulty or was somehow mis-sold.

Let's start at the beginning. Section 15 (1) of the 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". Section 16 (2) says that a consumer "may return goods to a supplier in their merchantable or original state, within six months after the delivery of the goods, without penalty and at the supplier's risk and expense, if the goods fail to satisfy the requirements and standards".

Don't forget that most manufacturers offer a warranty better than this, most often for a year but anyone who says there's no warranty or for less than six months is trying to rip you off. We get at least six months.

However, this just refers to goods that are faulty. In your case your shirt wasn't faulty, it was just the wrong size. In this case I don't think the store MUST do anything. They sold you something in good faith and by offering to exchange it for something else they're doing you a favour.

The simple truth is that we don't have a right to change our minds after we've bought something. Some stores like this one will allow you to swap something and there are even stores that allow you to return things if you change your mind but that's not a right, it's just very good customer service.

Scam alerts

We had two messages in the last few days from the victims of very similar scams. One asked: "Is Bitsmart trade platform legit?" He later said told me that "I sent P500 through orange money to a Kenyan number. After 24 hours was sent a receipt indicating a profit of close to the equivalence of P10,000, while initially I was promised P5,000 for P500. On top of that was told to pay P1500 for me to withdraw, that made me realize that I was scammed."

Another reader asked: "I need your help. One of the Octratrade Botswana consultants is refusing to give me profit." He later explained that he had paid a total pf P6,500 into various local bank accounts and now was being told he can't get his so-called profits. It was the same story, the scammers take the "investment" and then promise that huge profits are available, you just can't get them.

The second victim gave me contact details for the person who had invited him to join the scam and I pretended to be a potential victim. It was the same story I've heard many times before. According to the scammer promoting Octatrade, they are "a Botswana trading platform" although they're certainly not a registered company here. They also make the usual promises of enormous profits. For instance, they say that "P1,500 earn P18,000" and "P10,000 earn P120,000". They even go as far as claiming that "P1,000,000 earn P10,000,000". Anyone with even a small amount of skepticism will see that this is a lie. If it was true don't you think the Bank of Botswana would be buying into it? But obviously this is just a scam. The bad news is that it wasn't obvious enough for these two victims.

I think we all need to make a New Years Resolution to be much more skeptical about anyone who makes a claim that we can earn this sort of money. We also need to spread the word to everyone we know, particularly those most likely to fall for it. It's the only way we'll beat them.