Saturday 27 May 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can I get anything back?

I have been made to understand that you are helping people recover their investments. I deposit a total of over P7,000 in Berry and over P1,000 in Redcoin but have not gotten anything to date. After reactivating my account, I am being told to put in another 30 dollars, so I am not sure if I will recover my initial investment at the very least.

I deposited using a wallet. In fact, I sent people money to make deposits on my behalf as I did not have dollars and I was required to change to dollars. Are you doing investigations?

Kindly assist if you can. Thanks.

I wish I had some good news for you but like thousands of other people who fell for Ecoplexus, Berry, Redcoin and all the other scams hurting us this year, there is very little chance you'll get any money back. That's because scammers don't offer refunds. They're criminals and they don't behave nicely like the rest of us. Please do not pay them any more money, whatever they promise you.

There is a possibility that some of the victims of Ecoplexus might get something back because the people who paid to join the scheme paid their money into locally held bank accounts. When those accounts were frozen they still contained a lot of money that the scammers hadn't managed to transfer out of the country. However, it's not yet clear how that money will be returned to the victims. The money in those accounts was paid in by the most recent victims, not those who paid in before the scammers removed the stolen money. So who should get money back, the earlier or later victims? Or should it be distributed between all victims? I don't know, it's complicated and I suspect the courts will need to decide.

The bad news is that in your case it sounds like your money was immediately transferred when you paid to join the scheme. I suspect your money was converted from the dollars into a cryptocurrency wallet online somewhere. While these amounts can perhaps be traced, there's almost no chance of reversing them. Remember that cryptocurrencies are unregulated. There's no Central Bank of Crypto you can approach for support. That's one of the real dangers of these new cryptocurrencies. The word 'crypto' comes from the Greek word for 'hidden'. That's why so many crooks like cryptocurrencies. They can more easily hide their stolen cash.

My only advice is to lodge a complaint about any local promoters of these scams with the Police, Bank of Botswana, NBFIRA and the Competition Authority. Yes, ALL of them.

My TV was stolen. What happens now?

What happens if you are still paying for goods on hire purchase then they get stolen? It was a TV 32 inches for P7k. It's an issue of like 4 months back from now and I didn't have any proof or any suspect so I did not report cause I was just arriving from a trip. I haven't been paying them. Now I think they calling to repossess the TV.

So whats going to happen from there?

What's going to happen is that you'll call the store immediately and explain the situation to them. Do it now.

Most hire purchase policies include some insurance cover that will pay off the debt it the goods are stolen or accidentally destroyed. However, the problem is that very often there are strict time limits for submitting a claim. They'll also want a Police report to prove the item was stolen and they often also demand proof that there was a break-in, not just a suggestion that the goods were stolen while you were away. The insurance company needs proof that the goods really were stolen and that the customer is telling the whole truth about what happened.

Another problem is that the insurance policy is also likely to be invalid because you stopped paying the instalments. That automatically cancels almost all your rights when you buy things on hire purchase.

But the first step is simple. Call the store and talk to them.

Saturday 13 May 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can they repair it?

Good day Sir, may I kindly ask for your advice.

I bought a wedding tent for P19 000 at a shop in Rail Park Mall. The first pitch was in February 2023 in Molepolole and surprisingly about 5 poles on the right side of the tent bended after a very light wind that lasted for at least 5 mins.

I confronted the manager at the shop about the issue and even sent pictures that the material they used for the poles is very weak. You can even break it with your own hands.

He said verbally to my husband that we are not the first customers to complain about it. He was then to consult the owner about the matter. Now his assistant offered to replace the poles and we refused because the problem is the weakness of the whole structure and its very risky to pitch such tent to customers. Imagine poles falling on people in a wedding.

Kindly assist us Sir because we are losing business as we don't have another tent to at least pitch.

As regular readers of The Voice will know, 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". 
I think that "good working order" means that a wedding tent shouldn't be damaged by a few minutes of light wind, don't you agree?

The next section of the Act says that if goods are faulty then the supplier can repair them, replace them or refund the consumer. However, I think this situation is slightly different. If these goods are so poorly made, can they really repair them? Are they going to replace the poles with ones made to a higher standard and with better material?

I think you should make it clear to the owner of the company that if they try to repair the tent, they better do it right, with much stronger materials and prove that it withstand the wind. Either that or you'll demand a better replacement or a complete refund.

Why must I pay for their mistake?

Hello sir, I have a concern and I need your help. I have a loan from my bank. We signed a 6 year contract in October 2020,and it started deducted on November but what they say is that it could have deducted immediately in October.

Now to my surprise they increased the loan instalment without even consulting me. I went to the bank and they said it's because my loan has arrears. So what I want to know is if a loan has arrears do you just increase the instalment without calling the customer and sit down to see how you can resolve it? And is it the customer's problem or mistake that the bank failed to deduct the instalment money immediately the loan was given to the customer?

They increased because they say I was in arrears and it affected my take home pay. It's very low and it have affected my work too because I can't be promoted because I am under paid or my take home pay is low.

It was their mistake, that's why I said they could have called us and arrange how to solve it BUT they just increased the instalment without consulting us.

I think this bank owes you an apology. If they delayed the beginning of the loan instalments to November instead of October it was their job to contact you, explain what happened, apologise to you and then help you come up with a plan. The obvious solution that anyone with a brain could have identified is just to reschedule your entire loan back by one month. Then everyone would have been happy.

I emailed the bank several times but haven't heard anything back from them yet. I won't give up.

Saturday 6 May 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Should I pay them?

I need your help. There is this waterproofing company that I saw on FB and decided to use their services since the roof of my house was leaking. I contacted them via Whatsapp and we agreed on a quotation for waterproofing the whole roof, transport inclusive. It was stated on the quotation that it is a 7 year guarantee job. They went and fixed my roof and I paid the full amount as per their quotation..

Now here is the problem, when the rain came the gentleman who was busy putting the ceiling realised that there was a leak, then we both decided we must call the waterproofing guys to come fix it again because it was still under guarantee. I tried on numerous attempts to get them to come, I was patient for close to a month but they then ended up ignoring my calls and texts. Then they claimed they have ran out of stock and that I must buy material and pay for fuel in order for their worker to get there and do the work, promising me a refund at a later stage. I refused asking why their company can't procure all those.

Fast forward, this past Friday I decided to call the company owner again, as always he did not answer, but he later sent me a message saying that he has been having transport challenges and that if I organise transport he will send somebody to go and do the work. I did exactly that and the guy went there and got the leaks fixed.

About an hour later I got a call from the his boss, telling me that he got a report that the leak was caused by cracks on the wall and that I must send payment for what they did today, mind you the gentleman never discussed it with me before doing the job. No agreement whatsoever was made that I will have to do another payment, they didn't even tell me that the leak had nothing to do with their waterproofing as they claim.

Now my question is should I pay him? The owner even threatened to drive there and remove the rubber seal they did today if I do not pay.

There is only one way to deal with bullies. Stand up to them and don't ever give in to their bullying tactics. If I was in your position I would contact the boss and make It clear to him that he may not enter your premises without your permission and if he or his agents do so you'll call the Police and have them charged with trespass and theft. Also, I would remind him that his company offered you a 7-year warranty and that any repairs are therefore his to pay for.

Please don't allow a bully like this to behave this way.

Have they done enough?

My car is at a repair shop at the moment after being involved in an accident about a month ago. I was notified that the car was ready for collection and went to the repair shop to assess the repairs.

I did not sign the repair order as there were several things that I was not satisfied with. There was a list of parts that were to be replaced with new, but upon assessment the parts were just cleaned and reinstalled.
I voiced my concerns to the managing director. He declined my request to reinspect the car with him and promised to investigate the issue and rectify any mistake if any.

I have also notified the insurance company about the issue and they have notified the repair shop that they will send an assessor tomorrow to do a post assessment of the vehicle and revert back to me.

I believe a lot of car owners could learn a lot from the outcome of this matter. Perhaps in future it could be discussed in the forums. I sense this is akin to medical aid issues that are at times raised by clients.

I wish more consumers were like you. Firstly you had vehicle insurance that covers the costs of all these repairs. Secondly you're the type who inspects things before accepting them. Third, you ask questions, politely demand explanations and then escalate to experts when necessary. Finally you're a person who doesn't give up. You should give lessons to consumers on how to stand up for their rights.

Let's see what the insurance assessor says but it certainly looks like this repair shop likes to cut corners and then try to avoid the consequences. Maybe they'll learn a lesson from you too?