Saturday 24 June 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my iPhone?

I bought an IPhone 7 Plus 128gb on the 2nd June. After 3 days it started giving me problems, I went back to the shop, at first they opted to observe it so I left to pick it the next day. I come back for it the next day, when I took it I realized it still had the same problem even though they said its okay. I then refused to take it and they gave me a new phone. After a few days same thing happened with the new phone. Went back to the shop. This time around I wanted my money back. They refused said their shop policy states that they do no refund which is written in their warranty card. My expectation was because the device is new it will work well. That's when he told me that these phones are refurbished they are not new which he never said to me initially. We argued for quite long time and they offered to give me a Samsung, Redmi or Tecno. I refused coz I want an iPhone.

They gave another iPhone 7 Plus. I took it and already it's giving me problems. I am so frustrated right now those people are refusing to give me my money back but their phones are giving me problems. Is it okay for them to be treating me like this?? If at all I signed a warranty card with such conditions. Is it fair for me to be going back to the store with the same problem but different phones?

I really need you to help me. I don't have the energy to go there I'm so frustrated right now.

You've been very patient. In fact, I think you've been too patient. The time has come for the store to give you what you deserve, either a phone that works or a refund. I think they also need to learn a lesson about honesty. There is nothing wrong with selling refurbished phones, they just need to tell customers about it.

I messaged the owner of the store and he responded very quickly. Just 29 minutes after my first message he promised the matter would be fixed. Fingers crossed.

Where's my laptop?

What's the best channel to use to lay a complaint against a tech store? I gave them my laptop for repairs in March and up to date am being given stories after stories. I honestly feel bullied and not taken seriously. First it was a problem with a board that they had to source outside. A month later it was failure to boot the laptop. Last month the story changed to a dead battery. The store manager always promises to come back to me. It never happens until I call the store in person. I have lost so much in terms of my work and school stuff coz they say I can't bring a hard drive to copy some of my works. I don't even trust anything about them anymore. The technician has been rude and it is very unfair that am forced to speak to him all the time. It was on its 11th month but unfortunately I'd lost the receipt and they said they can't retrieve the information. What would you advise?

My advice is very simple. Do not accept such poor treatment from this store. The situation is actually very simple. You bought a laptop, it failed repeatedly during the warranty period and you deserve what the Consumer Protection Act guarantees you, either a repair, a replacement or a refund. And you deserve it quickly.

The store also needs to sort out this silliness about the receipt. Yes, obviously they need to prove that you really bought the laptop from them but they have records, don't they? They know the serial number of the laptop and that should be enough to prove what you're saying.

I contacted the store manager and I was told that their system "needs the date of purchase that is when it opens up and lets you verify with the amount, serial number and name of customer if it was captured in the system." That's crazy. I don't care how badly their systems have been designed and it shouldn't be used as a weapon against you. Luckily the manager also told me that they "will send it to our IT department to try and search with the serial number".

We both need to keep the pressure up on this store to get you what you deserve.

Saturday 17 June 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Was I scammed?

I started trading business online in 2019 with a company called Investotrade which is assumably based in USA. I used about BWP 100,000. After 2 months I was told that I can request for withdrawal and I did. I was then told that $100,000 withdrawal will require me to pay tax fee of 10% before I can get my profits. Since then because I had no money I couldn't get my profits.

As I was looking and searching for assistance from different people that I meet in the social media, I met some people who promised to assist me to recover my money back. I have been in contact with this people and have even been charged a couple of times and now I am broke. I have so far paid about P10,000. I am now told to pay $103 as the last charge then my money will be deposited in my bank account.

There is yet another company that I met which started trading with recently but heish I have paid more than I expected. I have paid for signals and activation codes so many times but nothing is coming forth.

I'm not sure where to begin. The terrible news for you is that you've been scammed. Three times.

Firstly, Investotrade was a scam. You know this now but the clues were there all along. Investing P100,000 and being told that you very quickly had earned US$100,000 is unbelievable. $100,000 is currently about P1.3 million. They were saying that your money had increased more than 13 times in a very short time and that's unbelievable. I suspect you know that now. The second clue is that they demanded a huge fee to withdraw the profits they claimed you had made. But the withdrawal fee of 10% was more than your initial "investment"? Again, unbelievable.

The second scam was a surprisingly common one. Many scam victims later fall victim again to fake companies claiming they can recover your losses from previous scams. But guess what? It's the same people, the very same scammers. Knowing that they could persuade you to give them your money persuaded them that you were likely to be desperate and willing to fall victim to other scams.

Finally, you thought it was possible to make money from forex trading? Yet again, you were scammed. And again the news is bad. The third scammers? I checked them and they're the same people as the second scammers. The same as the first scammers. One set of scammers, three scams, one victim.

The tragic news is very simple. Scammers never offer refunds. It's time to accept that you were mugged. Not in a street but online. Same crime, different place.

Will the debt go away?

Kindly assist me here with a personal dilemma. Some years back I got two loans from two banks whilst employed in the mining sector. A year later company was liquidated, we were retrenched and 85% of our packages went towards like and as was the contract. I also wrote to the banks. Years later I am still unemployed, I sell some clothes under a business to make a living. I wanted to get a bank loan only to realize I am blacklisted with CRB, the amount is substantial. I wanted to start a business enough to repay the loans. So I wanted to find out what my options are, does CRB also last forever? I am told I can only be removed on clearance which in my current situation I have no hope for. I liquidated myself and returned a vehicle I got under loan when retrenched and cleared minor education loans as well. Kindly assist me.

I wish I had good news for you but I can't offer that. You might have heard the saying that there are two things you can never avoid: death and taxes. In fact there are three. Death, tax and debt. Debt never goes away. Some people will tell you that debt is 'prescribed' after a few years but that just means the courts won't hear a debt case after a few years. It says nothing about your credit record. That can last for ever or until you pay off the debt. Even then it stays online for another 2 years. The reason is simple. It's probably true and other possible lenders need to see your recent financial history to judge if you're a safe bet or not.

If it's useful I can put you in touch with a reputable debt counsellor who won't be able to make your debts go away but they might be able to help simplify them for you.

Saturday 10 June 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

What price is right?

Good evening Richard. I need help. I went to a store in Lobatse. I wanted a kettle and the assistant showed me where they are and I picked one. The price by the kettle was P180.00. When I was by the till I realised after paying that I paid P295.00. I then alerted the teller, telling her that the kettle is P180.00 not P295.00. The other assistant ran and told the manager and they both went there and changed the price tag, but I had already noticed what they were doing.

I told them I have to get that kettle for the price I saw and they refused and gave me another kettle and told me that it was the one for that amount. I had to wait for almost an hour to be assisted. They refused to give me the kettle with the price I saw. Instead they gave me a different one and said that was the one worth that price I saw. They gave me the kettle I didn't want. 

I think this situation is very simple. The store offered the kettle for P180 and that's the price you should pay. You know who agrees with me about this? The law.

Section 11 of the Consumer Protection Act describes some very simple rules about how prices should be displayed. Firstly, it says that goods can't be displayed without their price. That's simple. It then goes on to say something just as important, that the price must be displayed in Pula. That might seem obvious but you'll probably have seen prices shown in Rand or without any details of the currency, just a number. In the past that's been a common way for South African chains to charge us the Rand price in Pula. I think the law means there must be a 'P' to make sure we're being charged the right amount.

However, the best part comes next. Section 11 (3) of the Act says that a supplier "shall not charge a consumer more than the price indicated or displayed for goods or services." Simple as that. Clearly this store hasn't read that Section or perhaps did read it and doesn't understand it. But that's no excuse.

I'll contact the store and remind them how simple the law is.

Why can't they cancel it?

Good day Richard, I hope you can help me. I have a funeral policy which I cancelled on 7th March via email. I was told it would be terminated within 30 days so when they deducted money for same policy from my March salary I was not surprised since the 30 days had not elapsed. But then they deducted again in April. I sent an email requesting that they rectify the error but I was not responded to. I sent another one and it was still not responded to. I called the office on Friday last week but was advised to call on Monday and given a name to assist me but nobody is picking the phone. So I tried to send them messages on Facebook to which I was told to give my details and someone will get back to me but nobody did. I texted again to remind them that nobody had gotten back to me yet but that message was ignored. Yesterday I sent another Facebook text this time I threatened that if I was not assisted by end of day today, I would take my issue to Consumer Watchdog. So then somebody responded that they had escalated the issue and they would get back to me but still nothing. So if you would help me I would really be grateful.

So far you've done everything any human could have done, using every possible means to contact them and cancel your policy. I don't know what else you could have done.

However, despite all of your efforts, this company doesn't seem to treat you seriously. I wonder if they know that Section 14 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that a consumer has a right to services that are delivered "in a manner and quality that consumers are reasonably entitled to expect"? We are also entitled to "timely performance and completion of those services".

In other words, I think you have a right to reasonably quick responses to requests for things like cancellations. I understand, like you, that they can't happen immediately but you cancelled this policy three months ago. That's not timely and it's not reasonable. I'll let them know.

Saturday 3 June 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my phone?

Hello Richard. We are facing a crisis here and I need help because I'm dealing with a stubborn and arrogant man from a cellphone shop. I bought my phone from some store in Rail Park Mall on the 5th of May, it's a Huawei Y7. 

First, I encountered a fault of it restarting here and there, had to return it to the store and was told there is no stock I should come the next day, the next day the phone was replaced.

The second one also got battery issues, the battery doesn't last more than 3 hours and I had to return it to the store and the shop owner only charged the phone and said the problem is the charger not the phone battery. Okay, the next day I noticed there was no change, went back to the store to demand a refund because already I was spending much money on transport to reach there.

He told me "there is no refund and if I need it there will be a 20% deduction". I asked which policy is that he told me "it's his company law his just gives it by word of mouth" I demanded the phone model to be changed to another of the same amount since Huawei was being trouble and he response was "he will deduct 20% from my money". He still emphasized its his store laws, then he started being so arrogant and he was like "you can go wherever you want, I am done talking to you" yesterday that's when I got such a response.

I know that readers of The Voice know by now about the Consumer Protection Act but it's obviously time to remind this store about what they say. Section 15 (1) of the Act says that a consumer "has the right to receive goods which are of good quality, in good working order and free of defects". In other words, the things we buy should work. It's that simple. However, we all know and understand that occasionally problems happen so that's when Section 16 of the Act is useful. This says that if there's a problem with an item within 6 months of the purchase, a consumer can return the item to the place they bought it and the supplier can choose whether to repair it, replace it or refund the customer. That's in addition to any warranty that the manufacturer offers which usually lasts for a year.

You did that but clearly there's a serious problem with this batch of phones because an identical replacement failed with a different problem. That's very unlikely. So we have to ask, are these phones even new? A batch of new phones shouldn't have any faulty ones, let alone two.

I contacted the store and suggested they come up with a solution they can offer you. Let's see if they can just give you a working phone or a refund. It's not complicated, is it?

And another thing. Shop owners don't get to decide which law they obey.

Where's my investment?

This insurance is a scam. I joined 7 years ago (2016) for P370 per month. The insurance had a hospital care package in which I was told that upon my hospital admission of up to 3 nights, I will receive a cash of P89,000. Today its a whole new story when I called to inquire about the policy. They even told me that it has an "investment" which has accumulated only P1,600 over 7 years.

Where can I get help because it wasn't only me that joined but other 100's of people who fell for these predators.

Clearly something is strange here. Firstly, there's a lot of confusion about what this policy is. Is it a hospital insurance plan or an investment scheme? Or both?

Many long-term investment plans involve commission paid to the agent that sold the product. Very often their commission is 'front-loaded' meaning they take their earnings at the beginning of the policy period, not over the whole period of the plan. You only start to earn money after that period is concluded. But the maths doesn't seem right to me. If you paid P370 per month for 7 years, there should be around P30,000 in the fund. I'm sure the agent didn't take more than P28,000 in commission.

You need to ask the insurance company what's going on here. Ask for a full statement that explains the numbers they've given you.