Saturday 19 August 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my bed?

Greetings Mr Richard. I come to you with an issue which I believe you will help me.

I bought a bed from a store in Selebi Phikwe on 6 months instalment which I long finished but before I finished paying I reported a fault which I was promised to be given a new bed but I have not received any. Every time I go to the shop I'm promised that the bed will be by my house in less than a week but its never the case.

Kindly help me with this issue since its draining me. The manager no longer answers my calls and I'm always forced to knock off early or take leave to attend the issue without results.

I think you've done exactly the right thing so far. Within the repayment period you reported a fault with the product you were buying. That's an incredibly important thing to do. Many people fail to do that, they fail to report a problem as soon as it occurs. Then they often find that the warranty has expired and they're left without any rights.

The problem is that some stores decide to ignore a complaint within the warranty period and hope the customer will forget. As soon as the warranty expires they claim it's too late. Luckily you're one of the smarter consumers.

I messaged the store manager and his response was predictable. Blue ticks but no response. I then emailed the Country Manager who has a very good history dealing with consumer issues. I suspect he'll be much more responsive. My recommendation to the store manager is to listen to what the Country Manager says and learn some lessons from him. If you want to keep your job.

Where's my phone?

I really need your help regarding a cellphone store. I bought a Samsung A14 on the 19th July and on Friday 21st upon setting the phone up with my passwords, fingerprint and face id the phone started acting up, the password, fingerprint and face id would not work at times like at one moment it will work and the next moment it will not. I took the phone back to the shop because I really needed that phone for work and now my work was at stake. They said it was the sim card and they did what they know best and I took the phone since I was in a hurry and really needed it for work. When I complained they said it was sealed but they are the ones who opened the box and gave me the phone. So all these is the reason why I asked for a refund or a new phone, it wasn't even unlocking when I was at their shop. I even provided my passwords to them as they claimed I might have forgotten it or at least how about my face id and fingerprint, did I forget them too? They refused to help me and they kept the phone till now it's been 3 weeks. I asked for the manager, made several calls, texted them on WhatsApp several times but they are ignoring my messages. I even went there and I didn't get any help, they don't even bother to keep me updated but they are keeping the phone and my money since Sunday the 23rd of July.

I have a confession to make. Your comment "my face id and fingerprint, did I forget them too?" made me laugh out loud. How dim-witted are the people at this store?

I think this store needs an urgent lesson on the Consumer Protection Act, basic customer service and common sense. They've let you down completely and now they're making up stories and ignoring you?

It's simply not good enough. I contacted the owner of the store and he promised action. Let's hope.

Saturday 12 August 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my phone?

Hi Richard! I need help with getting my refund. I purchased my sister an iPhone XS on June 8th in Palapye. The phone started experiencing various problems a few days after the purchase. It would just shut off when in use but with a high battery percentage level, and after turning on, it would refuse to connect to WiFi. Additionally, the phone battery would die at 20%. After that, we returned it to the shop in Palapye so they could fix it. They then sent the phone to their main branch in Gaborone for repair, they had it for 2 weeks. My sister was extremely inconvenienced by this because she had nothing to use for weeks.

The same issues persisted after it had been repaired. Additionally, it returned with a battery life warning that wasn't present when it left for repair. The only thing that had changed is that battery would now die at 5% rather than 20%.

When we returned it to the Palapye shop, they advised us that a technician in Gaborone would need to fix it once more. On July 23, 2023, we took the phone to the store at Rail Park, we were told to return on July 24, since the technicians were not available. On the 24th, I informed the store manager that I no longer wanted the phone serviced. She then informed her boss, who informed her that he cannot issue a refund because the phone has a scratch. Their boss refused to meet with me so that he could completely explain why he is unable to issue a refund. He was not even in the store, instead, he was talking to his manager in the parking lot.

Enough is enough. I respect your patience but now it's time for action. As readers of The Voice will know, Section 15 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that consumers are entitled "to receive goods which are of good quality, in good working order and free of defects." Section 16 (2) goes on to say that a consumer can return goods that are faulty within 6 months and receive 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. Importantly for you, it says very clearly that if a supplier repairs a 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. Maybe it's time to remind the store about this?

Where's my refund?

I went to a shop in Palapye on 24th July. I brought my shoe for resizing, what surprised me was that you pay before your shoes can be attended. I asked them why is it so they told me is the policy of the shop. Then I asked her, what if I'm not satisfied with your service, they said I will be refunded. I paid that P100 cash. I was told the service will take 5 days, so they will call me when they are done.

I waited for the whole week, no call. Then on Saturday 29th I went to the shop to check on the progress. I was surprised to be told that they are still waiting for the machine for resizing from Gaborone, something I wasn't told at first. As I was on my way to SA I decided to take my shoes and ask for refund. I was told I will be refunded, up to today there's no refund of P100. I called again today, to my surprise I'm told the refund takes a month to be done and its only done in Gabs.

I know we can't expect miracles from stores but there are certain things we have a right to expect. One thing is "timely performance and completion" of services we pay for. Section 14 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that. It's very simple, this store should have told you how long your shoe resizing should take. If there were delays then they should have told you that as well because the Act says they must give you "timely notice of any unavoidable delay".

I contacted the store. They were very apologetic and processed the refund immediately. I just wish that more stores reacted so quickly.

Saturday 5 August 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must we be interviewed?

(This message came from a lady who had recently lost her husband. After lengthy battles with her medical aid, her husband finally passed away a few months ago. Then she tried to obtain benefits from his pension scheme.)

With regards to insurance policies. Must a tax clearance for the deceased be submitted before the insurance is paid out to the family? After the insurance company had me running around for over 2 months with different documents all the time changing requirements. I eventually managed to submit and then they come back with this. Now they want to interview me and our daughter? She is in university overseas. She is also going to Europe in a couple of weeks so for her to come to Gabs is not going to happen until December. When my husband completed the forms he left 50% to each of us, why now must we prove that we need the money?

Firstly, I'm so sorry for your loss and for the struggles you and other bereaved relatives must endure after a tragic loss. I know insurance companies have procedures to follow but they often make a difficult situation even more difficult.

Yes, I believe that BURS insist that pension providers check whether someone owes tax before they pay out. That's the simple question. The second question is more complicated. Does the insurance company really need to interview you and your daughter before making the payments? I didn't know the answer to this but it struck me as surprising. So rather than guessing I asked a former colleague who's an expert. This is what he said:
"It's normal. The Retirement Funds Act allow members and pensioners to nominate Dependants as a guide to the Trustees. However, it also allows to Trustees to vary the content of any nomination form if there is any information that the Trustees come across that warrants that.

Members and dependants get upset when they hear that but it's actually designed to protect dependants. The examples I always give are when a young couple with 1 child nominate their child as the sole dependant and they go on to have other kids but forget to update the forms (which is very common). If both of them pass away, it would not be fair to leave out the other sibling dependants simply because the parents forgot to update their nomination forms.

Another example is where couple gets divorced and move on to start new families. If one of them passes away (the lady for instance) leaving small kids behind and forgets to update their form to remove the ex-husband, it would not be right to simply pay it over to the gent who will go on a holiday with his new wife and kids. These are very real (and actual) examples but more often than not, the benefits will be paid according to the nomination form that was completed.

Where no nomination form was completed the simplest thing is to get a family resolution certified by any Tribal Authority, District Commissioner etc, confirming who the dependants are."
Can he recover my money?

A few days ago I tried to trade through another person I met on Facebook. Initially I deposited P2,000 then P2,700 through Yellowcard. Later he changed the story to say the returns made after trading are too high, around P105,000 and needs around P9,000 to download software. I stopped trading.

Yesterday I discovered a page on Facebook called Yellow Card Recovery and they promised to follow up my issue cos I felt like the other guy wanted to scam me. I received email from the recovery page and he promised to recover my money. I was humbly asking if you can assist me to confirm if this is genuine. Thank you in advance.

I'm really sorry to tell you this but I suspect you know it already. You've been scammed and you're about to be scammed again. The first guy was obviously lying when he promised you P105,000 but this second guy who has offered to recover your original P4,700 is also lying to you. There is no way to recover money from scammers. They're criminals, no different to muggers in the street. Like muggers, they don't offer refunds.