Saturday 29 July 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

How much can she charge?

Hi Richard. There is this lady who runs a cash loan. I'm not sure if it's legally registered. Last year November a friend of mine asked if I can arrange for her to get a short loan so I connected them and they agreed. My friend borrowed P10,000 at 25% interest. My friend hasn't paid anything until today and the owner of the cash loan is harassing me with messages and calls. I connected them and I will keep on asking the lady to pay but is it necessary for her to keep on harassing me?

Also, is she supposed to keep on adding interest to this day. I mean was she not supposed to stop adding interest at 3 months? Somebody was telling me that's the procedure.

This is a mess. Firstly you're right, the lender should stop bothering you immediately. You didn't borrow the money, you owe her nothing. Her behaviour is harassment and if it goes on any longer I think you should tell her you'll be contacting the Police.

Secondly, I'm also suspicious about the lender. You sent me a screenshot of a WhatsApp conversation your friend had with the lender and it's shady. She operates from a Gmail address, charges enormous interest rates and doesn't seem to have an office. I doubt whether she's registered with NBFIRA but let's check with them.

The next problem is obvious. Your friend hasn't repaid the loan and clearly that's' no acceptable. She borrowed money and the lender, registered or not, deserves to get that amount back. The interest is a more complicated issue. Unfortunately you're wrong that interest can only be added for 3 months. There's no limit to how much interest can be added to a debt but there is a limit to how much can be charged when the debt is settled. The 'in duplum' rule says that when a debt is paid off in one payment, the interest can't be more than the capital amount that remains. However, can your friend afford to pay it all back in one payment?

I suggest that your friend first calls NBFIRA for advice, then tries to reach an agreement with the lender about what she should and can pay back.

Must she pay them?

I need your advice sir. My mom was involved in a traffic accident. Apparently the car she hit was insured. The damage were on the door, but not to a great extent. Now the insurance has sent her the expenses they incurred when fixing the car. It's P81,000. Their quotation indicates that both doors were replaced and not repaired. Since she has to pay for all those expenses, she requested to be given everything which was removed from the car. There isn't any definite answer on that from the insurance company.

This is yet another example of how useful insurance can be. It doesn't matter whether it's a vehicle insurance policy, home or life, the fact that the insurance company will cover the costs of an unfortunate event can be a huge benefit. However, in this case the only beneficiary is the owner of the other vehicle. They paid for an insurance policy that paid P81,000 to repair their car so they didn't have to.

The bad news is that when someone without insurance like your mother is involved in traffic collision that's their fault, they have to pay the bills. The other party's insurance company wants their money back and they'll come after the guilty party to get it. Most importantly, there's very little the uninsured guilty party to protect themselves. Obviously the insurance company can't inflate the repair costs but remember that they're only looking after their own interests and those of their client. Your interests are of no importance to them.

I suggest that your mother contacts the insurance company and asks for a full breakdown of the costs. Then, if the numbers add up, she needs to negotiate a payment plan that she can afford. Then she needs to find a reputable insurance broker to get a vehicle insurance policy in case this happens again.

Saturday 15 July 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

They can't tell my children apart!

Hello Richard. I have an issue with my medical aid and I'm not sure if it's your jurisdiction to provide help.

I have twin boys who happen to be beneficiaries. They have similar first names and other different middle names. The system the way it's configured is that when they register a person they use the first 3 letters of their name as the ID.

Now since my boys have similar names they now have the first 3 letters looking the same. It's unfortunate that when they are not well It happens at the same time. When it's time to claim the system won't claim for the other twin because it's like they are making claiming for the same person twice. So the system automatically rejects the second claim. Unless you now claim under a different beneficiary with a different date of when they joined the medical aid.

I have taken it up with the medical aid in Francistown and they told me it's either I change the name of the other twin so that they can claim at the same time. I was against the idea because I believe they should make it happen that every beneficiary gets what they deserve without compromising their names.

They told me they have asked the service providers to process the claims manually which they can't do because they say the system rejects them. It's always a struggle to have the other twin claiming when they are not well.

This is incredible. It's insane. It's also incompetent.

Let's start with the Consumer Protection Act. Section 14 (1) of the Act says that when a supplier: 
"undertakes to perform any services for or on behalf of a consumer, the consumer has a right to … performance of the services in a manner and quality that consumers are reasonably entitled to expect".
In simple terms (so simple that even this medical aid can understand) it means they should be able to tell that you have two children, not one.

I contacted the company and asked them to investigate. I'm telling them here in The Voice that in return for a very large amount of money I'll give them some advice, based on many years experience of IT business systems, on how they can develop a better way of identifying all their members and dependents. It should take me about 15 seconds but clearly it's worth the investment. (Sorry Editor for the advertisement.)

Can I get my money back?

Good day. I would like to ask for some assistance and maybe help me understand something here. I did an account to start trading but because I don't have much experience I asked someone to manage it. This is my first time meeting him and I invested $20 into the account amounting to P277.13 at the time. He didn't lay down any terms and conditions but only that ''Risk free target is triple invested amount'' of which I believe it means guaranteed less risks if not zero risk. And after 42 hours of not communicating he says he lost all the money. Besides the profit he had said we would share 50/50 he lost even my investment. Please help me here. Even on his profile you will see the account management business. Am I wrong to want at the very least a proper feedback and my $20?

Unfortunately I don't think I can offer you any good news. You've been scammed. Nobody can guarantee profits in any scheme and certainly not with forex trading. Anyone who guarantees you can triple your money from forex trading is lying to you. Or they know nothing about forex trading. Either way they can't be trusted with your money.

I think the first thing you should do is accept that you lost your money. Luckily you only lost a small amount compared to the amount this guy probably wanted to take from you. The second thing you should do is speak to NBFIRA and get their advice. I don't think they'll get your money back but they might be able to stop him scamming other people.

Saturday 8 July 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can't they refund me?

Good morning Mr Richard. May you kindly advise me here. I bought a coat (size 36) through laybye at a store at Fields Mall. I collected the coat on the 24th June but I realised it's too big for me when I wear it. On the 30th June I went to ask for exchange at the same shop. When I got there I could not find a smaller size (size 34). The manager called other Gaborone stores but they didn't have the size 34 as well, then I asked them if I can get something else for the same price I bought the coat (P499). They told me the coat is now on special at P349 so I can only get something at P349 not P499 that I paid. While I was still there waiting for the manager to make some enquiries then the story changed that I can't get anything different because it was on laybye so I can only get the same coat but different size. I asked them where am I going to get size 34 because he called other stores they don't have that size. They said in that case there is nothing they can do because exchange of that coat is going to mess up their books so I'm here with the coat that doesn't fit me. Please help.

Hi. This is complicated.

As readers of The Voice will know Section 16 (2) of the Consumer Protection Act says that a consumer can return an item to a store for a replacement, refund or repair but ONLY if the item they bought is either faulty or if it was mis-sold somehow. It's really important to understand that as consumers we don't have a right to demand a replacement or refund (or a repair but that's not relevant here) if the item we bought was in good condition and the store did nothing wrong. If we made a mistake, we pay the price.

Of course some stores might be considerate and allow you to return something but that's just good customer service, not a right we have. It's why we need to be extremely careful before buying something. I think the best solution is to approach the store, be as nice and friendly as possible and see if they can't be a bit more understanding? I'll also contact the owner and see if they're prepared to be a little bit kinder.

Did they abuse her rights?

On the 15th June, my 6 year old niece took sweets from a store in Mochudi while she was with another child. The security noticed and detained her. When her mother was called to the shop, she could not get the child as the manager said she was charging her 5 times the value of the sweets. She had to leave her crying helpless child who was at that time put at the manager's office as she had no money with her. My brother accompanied her to the shop and after a while the child was released after they blatantly refused to be charged over. Also the shop manager at first wanted to call the police but later changed their mind. Also after paying, they were not given the sweets and the receipt which I view as theft.

My complaints are here. The child was traumatised. The store only gave us the receipt on the 29th June after we consulted the Social Work department of the local council. The store manager says it store policy to charge people caught stealing 5 times more but he cannot show it to us written in black and white.

I want to get justice for my niece who cries every time we go to the shop. She wants nothing to do with the shop, manager and security. Please advice how tackle this issue and get justice for my traumatised niece, looking at her age.

Yet another complicated situation. Firstly, I entirely agree that your niece was very badly treated by the store and I can understand how she must be traumatized. However, the store were, I believe, entitled to detain her until a responsible adult was able to attend. I'm not an attorney but I know that the Penal Code says that someone "under the age of eight years is not criminally responsible for any act or omission" but that doesn't mean she can just be let go. You admit that she stole something and that can't be overlooked.

I think both you and the store got a couple of things wrong. You and your niece had no rights to those sweets, she'd earlier tried to steal them. It's not the store that's guilty of theft. And the store has no right to impose a fine on someone who steals things. Only a court can impose a fine.

I think you and your family need to have a serious conversation with your niece. And the store needs to stop thinking they are the Police, social services and the courts combined.

Saturday 1 July 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Are young women safe?

Hi Richard, I want to raise the issue of men abusing women at bars. Last night I saw a man who had a few weeks ago been removed by bouncers for groping a girl and getting violent at the bar I was in, groping and sexually assaulting at least 3 girls yet again. As well as that there were several other men acting similarly. There were no obvious cctv cameras nor security on the dance floor so evidence is hard to get but girls don't feel safe going there anymore. Wondering if maybe management could put safety nets in place to prevent this in the future or at least give victims the evidence they need to lay charges against sexual predators.

Thank you for raising such an important issue. I think we all know that a small proportion of our young men are out of control and are mistreating our young women. While there are plenty of men of all ages who behave decently and respectfully, and there are some very good men have made a public stand against the abuse of women, we still have a long way to go.

I think we also know that bars and clubs are a great place for this dangerous minority of men to abuse women, to exploit those who've had a drink and who might not be with friends likely to stand up for them. Some might say that this isn't a consumer issue but I disagree. It doesn't matter whether it's a supermarket, a bank, a government office, a bar or a nightclub, we all deserve to be safe when we're spending our money.

I believe that the owners and managers of a bar that don't put in place strict controls on the behaviour of their male clients aren't innocent bystanders, they're part of the problem.

I'll contact the bar you mentioned and ask what they're prepared to do to improve the safety of their customers.

Update. I heard very quickly from the management of the bar that they're taking the matter very seriously and will be investigating. Well done to them.

Where's my kitchen?

Hey Sir, I bought a kitchen scheme from a store at the Station., I asked them to deliver the kitchen scheme in Francistown. They delivered the kitchen that was on display, the drawers were not opening, there were scratches all over and they left one handle not fixed. Upon seeing this I informed Gaborone where I was assisted. That was March when I bought it and April I reported all this, they said they will give me a new kitchen.

The whole of May they didn't communicate. I am the only one after them. It was on high purchase. I went to them last week to cancel the purchase and the sales person opted for me to take different a kitchen scheme which he said Francistown will deliver in a good condition. I decided to cancel the one I took and took the one he proposed. Even up to now the store in Gaborone is not willing to help me change the damaged kitchen to a new one. Please intervene.

This is crazy. Does this store have any understanding of customer service or consumer rights? Clearly not.

Firstly, they sold you a display kitchen, not a new one. Section 13 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says very clearly that "used goods" must be clearly identified when they're sold. If they didn't make it clear that the display kitchen was the one you were buying, then they can face a fine of up to P50,000, prison for 3 years, or both.

Secondly they breached Section 14 (1) (c) of the Act which says you're entitled to
"goods that free of defects and are of a quality that consumers are reasonably entitled to expect".
Clearly that wasn't what you received.

Then they took their time fixing this mess and that's unacceptable. We all understand that mistakes happen, but when they happen we're entitled to have them corrected quickly.

I emailed them a few days ago but got no response so now I've contacted their Head Office in South Africa. Maybe they can apply some pressure on their store? Or do they want this story all over Facebook?