Saturday 30 September 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why the delay?

I need your help. I sent an email to my insurance company cancelling my policy on August 14th 2023. I made an enquiry on the cancelation on the 18th of September and the responsible people do not respond to my emails. I managed to get hold of a lady yesterday and she said the procedure is that when they receive the email they print and hand to a certain department. Just now I made a follow up and she was surprised that the department never called me. She checked my email and she just said it had no attachment. Something that I believe could have been communicated on the 16th of August when she read my email as per the read receipt that I received. How do I go about this because the service provider did not advise me accordingly on time and they are still deducting money on my account.

Firstly, I like the fact that you set up your email to them to include a read receipt. That way you could be certain if they received the email and that someone read it. Smart move!

I think we need to remind this insurance company who their customer is? Who's paying for the service? Who deserves some reasonable customer service? Yes, you admit that you forgot to attach a document to your email, but we've all done that. You've probably received an email with a missing attachment as well and I bet you replied immediately and told the sender what happened? It's what polite people do.

I'll get in touch with the company and see if they can't recognise that they owed you much better treatment than this. I also suggest that you write them another email (with a read receipt request) and demand that they backdate your cancellation to August. I think it's only polite and reasonable.

What can I do with this slow laptop?

I need help. I bought my daughter a HP Laptop at certain shop in Gaborone for P4,000. When we tested it it was slow. We end up taking it but the child suffered to use until we returned it. When we get there they wanted to give us another one it took time to be on so I decided I need money since it's doing the same thing. They are refusing to give money just because in their papers I signed I can't return it and if I do I have to get something else and there is nothing I need in the shop. I need money to go buy somewhere else. They said the laptop is new but I think it's not. How may I get my money back since my daughter needs a laptop for her course? Those are crooks they knew and admit the laptop is not working well but they don't want refund.

Please help I'm so frustrated by this issue.

Unfortunately I suspect this might be difficult. It's incredibly important, whenever you buy something technological, to do your research first, before you hand over your money. That applies to cellphones, cars and computers, anything that isn't understood by most of us. Every time we buy anything like this, if we're not an expert, we must get advice from someone who is.

When buying a computer it's really important to make sure the model you choose matches your requirements. Your friendly expert will ask you what you plan to do with the device, what you can afford to spend and they'll be able to point you in the direction of the right device.

I suspect you didn't have the chance to do this and you're paying the price for that. It doesn't help that this store seems unhelpful and untrustworthy. I also suspect that the laptop isn't new. Even the cheapest of modern laptops will allow the average user to do most things. This sounds like an older model.

I'll contact the store and see if they can explain themselves.

Saturday 23 September 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is this laptop legit?

I recently bought a laptop on the 23rd of August, then returned it on Friday so they could install windows since it wasn't activated. When I followed up the progress they came up with another issue claiming that the hard drive is damaged. For them to give me my laptop back I need to contribute P500 to install the hard drive. The matter was reported to CCA in Main Mall on the 31st and they promised to get back to me within this week but they haven't called. I really need the laptop for I have presentations to prepare for within the following week.

This is incredibly suspicious. Almost all new laptops come with Windows already installed and operational. The only thing you need to do when you start it for the first time is to enter your personal details to register it with Microsoft. The most suspicious thing you wrote is that your version of Windows "wasn't activated". I think that probably means that the version of Windows on the laptop you bought had been pirated. That's illegal.

The second issue is that the hard drive was damaged. Again, that suggests to me that the laptop isn't new. It's almost unheard of for a new laptop to have a failed hard disc. I think it's obvious that you've been sold a second-hand laptop with pirated software.

I contacted the owner of the store and they weren't very helpful. Firstly they suggested this wasn't a big issue. But it is. They were also very unhappy that you'd contacted us and suggested they would contact the Police and demand an investigation into us for asking questions. Clearly they have something to hide.

I suggest we continue to apply pressure on the Competition and Consumer Authority because they have the power to compel this store to do the right thing. And also perhaps face punishment for selling used goods as new and installing pirated software. I wonder if the Police might also be interested? But not in us, in the store.

Do I deserve rewards?

Hello Mr Harriman. Please I need to ask something privately regarding cellphone network providers in Botswana. I have been a loyal customer using one number since 1998 (26 years) and that was the time when they were basically new as well. Ever since from my first cell phone to this date buying airtime, buying and using their internet for years and years. Don't I get to be appreciated somehow or be recognised for being a loyal customer be given at least a t-shirt or something? Are service providers not supposed to give out appreciation freebies?

Unfortunately not. Like you, I've been with my cellphone network almost since the day they started. I'm slightly scared to calculate how much I've paid them in total. And what have they given me in return? Just what I paid for. I've paid them every month and they've given me the ability to make calls, send messages and connect to the internet. But that's all I can demand from them. What I paid for.

As for extras, for freebies and gifts, those are just luxuries. And here's a secret they want you to overlook. Freebies aren't free. We pay for them. Every time we buy airtime a small percentage of that payment pays for any special offers, discounts and freebies they give us. You don't think they're charities, do you? It's not their money they're spending on the gifts, it's ours.

It's not just cellphone network providers that do things like this. Think about so-called store 'loyalty cards' as well. These cards don't reward loyalty, they try to create it. The occasional discounts they offer us are just tricks to persuade us to keep shopping with them rather than their competitors. The prices they charge include the cost of any rewards they offer us. They're also there to track us, to analyse how we spend our money and then to target advertising to us. If you're happy with this that's fine, but remember it's a choice we make, whether we participate or not.

Above all, remember this. Very few things in life are truly free.

Saturday 16 September 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why can't I install apps?

Can you please assist me in this issue. I bought a Huawei Y70 phone in Maun for P3,000. After buying the phone I realized that it doesn't support other apps. I tried to download Showmax and Netflix but the phone was acting up. There is an error message saying the device does not support the app.

Upon realizing this issue I contacted the shop but the guy told me that he is able to install them but the issue is this phone is going to be a problem to me because they gave me 1 month warranty I wonder what will happen after one month if I want to install another app.

They are refusing to change the phone. So I was asking how best can the shop help me.

I think we need to teach this cellphone store some basic lessons about customer service and consumer rights, don't you?

Firstly, this is just rude. Maybe I'm old-fashioned but I think that if a store sells something that isn't working right, no matter what caused it, they owe the customer some courtesy and should try their best to help them fix the situation.

Perhaps more importantly I think suppliers should obey the law. As readers of The Voice will know by now, Section 16 (2) of the Consumer Protection Act 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 (that the Act demands)"
It's not complicated. A cellphone should be able to make calls, send messages and load apps that are right for that type of phone. A quick Google search suggested that there's nothing that would prevent this model of phone loading these apps. However, I think it's the job of this store to help you fix this issue. If there's a reason why the apps can't be loaded they should have told you this before you spent your money. If it can run them they need to help you load them. Either way it's their job to help you.

I contacted the store but haven't had a reply yet. I won't give up.

Must I pay for a refund?

I'm not sure if this is the right platform but I need assistance on what to do with an electronics store in Airport Junction. I bought a phone there in May, an iPhone Pro Max 13, now the battery is already down to 92% which is unusual for a brand new phone.

I went to see them today and they said their warranty doesn't cover the battery and if I want a refund they will deduct 40% of the price paid, which is 6.6k.

So I told them that I'd just check in with you guys if that is the right way because honestly I believe I was sold a refurbished or second hand phone instead of a new one. Please advise.

I agree with you. Something here isn't right. You sent me a screenshot from the phone which shows that the Apple warranty has already expired which shouldn't be the case for a new phone bought in May. And then there's this nonsense about the battery not being covered by the warranty? That's not acceptable. Requiring you to pay to get a refund is also nonsense and I'm happy to tell them about Section 16 (2 ) of the Consumer Protection Act. I'll also tell them about Section 13 which forbids a supplier from selling used goods without being honest about it and Section 23 which says they can't force consumer to waive their rights, like the right to a working battery in their expensive cellphone.

Why is it that some cellphone stores are allowed to behave like these two? The bad news is it's because we allow it. We all need to be a lot more demanding.

Saturday 9 September 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can I get my money back?

How long does it take to get your money back from an investment policy that you have cancelled? Does it require the same agent you signed up with?

I opened it in Maun through an agent in April 2022 and was effective starting 1 May. Maturity date is on 30 April 2047. I paid P350 for 3 months and ended it because my employment contract had ended. The agent told me that they will freeze my account for a year in good faith that I will find a job and continue but I never did. In April I communicated with him and he told me that in 4 days I will get my money. He told me I should have given him my account number and wait for 10 days. When I ask he always tells me that he is not in the office and will get back to me.

I contacted the insurance company. They haven't replied yet but I think I know what they'll say.

The problem is that you signed a 25-year investment policy and asked to cancel it after just 1 year. I suspect that if you read the small print of the policy document you'll find that you can't do this and expect your money back. This is partly because the insurance company was expecting 25 years of premiums and you've cancelled that agreement. It's also partly because of what is sometimes called 'front-loading'. When you sign a long-term investment policy the agent who sold it doesn't want to wait for 25 years to get their commission. They want it now. What happens is that their commission is paid in the first year or two of the policy. That means that your early premiums don't go into the policy, they go to the agent. It's only after a few years that you actually start to save money and earn interest. That's the 'front-loading'.

Let's wait to see what the insurance company says but I'm not optimistic that you'll get any money back. Meanwhile the insurance company needs to get some better agents. This one seems to know or care very little.

Where's my refund?

Please assist in reaching out to a drilling company for my refund. The company started off well with a site visit to my farm and did the point confirmation for the borehole as promised. They were to send me the report after deposit and this never came. On request for this the director kept saying he will share this but it never came.

He later gave me a confirmation date for the drill appointment which was the 21st Aug and on the 20th I reached out to him in order to prepare for the drilling but he never responded. Fast forward he missed the drilling dates and to this day he only reads my Whatsapp and doesn't respond. He is a tough person to reach on voice call and he always has excuses like the truck had a break down and they are trying to rectify. His last comms to me was a letter stating he will attend to my drilling before the end of September and am wondering if he feels I should wait for him while there are other guys who can assist sooner.

I sent him a letter demanding my refund because I no longer want to work with his company so I can seek help elsewhere and still he reads my emails and Whatsapps with no response.

I think you've done everything right so far. And he's done everything wrong. I'm sure we all understand that companies sometimes have problems, things that delay them but that's no excuse for going silent. Section 14 (1) of the Consumer Protection Act says that consumers are entitled to "timely performance and completion" of services they've paid for. It goes on to say that we're also entitled to "timely notice of any unavoidable delay". It's really very simple. Suppliers should keep to their promises and let us know if they can't.

In your case the company are being rude. They can't just tell you that they've picked a new date, they need to be negotiating with you. They need to be asking politely if they can come on a later date. They should be the ones offering you a refund, not you asking for it. I contacted the company but so far all I get is blue ticks. I'll keep you informed.

Update: The owner of the drilling company says I can "expect to hear from my lawyers". I look forward to it.

Saturday 2 September 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay him?

On the 6th August around 9 am I parked by the shops and one guy came and parked behind me. When I wanted to go out there was no space and which resulted in me scratching his car below the plate number. The guy took me out of the scene while waiting for police because he was called by his friend who is a police officer. I was charged and paid the fine. Now the guy wants me to pay him money for insurance of even the damage of the car is not the one on his quotation.

Unfortunately I don't think I can give you any good news. This is what happens when the victim of a collision has insurance and the guilty party doesn't. The victim will have submitted an insurance claim and the insurance company will have paid the costs needed to repair the vehicle, except an amount they call the 'excess'. This is a relatively small amount the insured person pays towards the repair costs.

The bad news is that the guilty party isn't the one the insurance policy protects. That's just the policy holder, the one paying for it. Now the insurance company will want to get back the money they lost when they paid the repair costs and it's you they'll approach to get it from. The other bit of bad news is that the owner of the damaged vehicle is also entitled to demand their excess payment back from you.

However, it's only fair that the amounts they demand from you are reasonable and correct. I think you have a right to see the invoices from whatever repair shops they approached to make sure you're being charged a fair price for the repairs and not being exploited. If you like I can contact the insurance company for you.

Can I get anything back?

Kindly looking for help just recently bought a second hand car from a pawn shop in Maun. On Thursday afternoon then the following day which is Friday morning it started to show more problems mainly the engine and those problems were not mentioned and the guy knew about the problems. I was denied to test drive the car, they got me to pay P15k for car before leaving the yard.

I called them yesterday to asking for help but they say said they can't help me with anything. What I really wanted was for them to reduce the price of the car so that I can get the engine fixed or buy a second hand engine from the spare shops.

Please help me.

The first important point is that you can't trust these people. Anyone selling a car that doesn't allow you to test drive it has something to hide. It doesn't matter if it's an individual, a car dealer or a pawnshop, if they're too scared to let you inspect the vehicle they're keeping something from you. Something you need to know. The lesson is simple. Only ever buy a car you've test driven or which comes with a written, dated, signed guarantee that it's in working order.

The second important thing here is that these guys are regulated. I suggest that you contact both the Competition and Consumer Authority and NBFIRA, the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority who oversee pawn shops and ask both bodies to take a look at this company. I think NBFIRA will be particularly interested because the company name you gave me doesn't appear on their current list of pawn shops.

These guys seem more and more shady. It's time they explained themselves.