Saturday 28 January 2023

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.

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