Friday, 23 February 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's her refund?

My daughter deposited P56,000 into the account of the sole owner of Awiwi Holdings Pty Ltd to buy her a second hand Honda CRV of 2008 on the 9th December 2017. The agreement was that the whole process will take a total of 3-5 days and that the money paid will include purchasing, transportation and clearance. The company failed to deliver it and the said owner promises to refund the money but still he failed.

He said he has requested for a loan from a microlender yesterday and 2 weeks back he said he requested for a loan from a bank and he promised to pay before làst week Friday but he never did. I am pleading with you to help my daughter get her money back.

Why is it that certain industries have more than their fair share of crooks, liars and, in this case, unreliable business owners? We hear so often about unreliable suppliers in the wedding business, second-hand car dealers and even more often, car importers. Of course, in each of these industries there are some remarkably good, professional, reliable people, the businesses we should all support but clearly this guy isn't one of them. He's one of the unreliable ones. The great irony is that on the sale agreement your daughter signed with the company, it shows their company motto: "client's happiness comes first". Maybe if they lived that idea a little more he wouldn't end up in The Voice.

I contacted him to see if he'd be a bit more cooperative and he assured me that your daughter would get her refund. He told me that he had "promised her to return the money before Friday this week". That was LAST Friday, not this Friday and yes, yet again he's letting you down and now me as well. Frankly I don't care about whether he's trying to get a loan to repay your daughter, he owes her a lot of money.

I suggest that you write him a letter saying that unless Awiwi Holdings repays your daughter the full amount she paid him within 14 days you'll take legal action against him. I doubt anything else will make him do the right thing.

Should they glue my shoes?

I bought a sneaker at a certain boutique for P600 on the 2nd of February this year. I wore it only on that weekend and now its sole is parting with the upper part of the shoe. This morning I confronted the shop manager about the issue and she said the only way she could help me was putting glue in between the affected part and making it stick. So my question is what can you advise me to do because I did not get services and value for my money on the product.

I think the store owner needs to understand that Section 13 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations requires suppliers to offer commodities and services that are "of merchantable quality". In simpler terms, they should do what they're meant to do. A pair of shoes that only lasts a few days clearly doesn't pass this test. However, that assumes that you've treated the shoes with some care. If you'd misused them then it's a different matter. Nevertheless, from what you say it seems like there's a fault with this pair of shoes.

When something isn't of merchantable quality you're entitled to one of the three Rs: a refund, repair or a replacement but it's up to the store to decide which of these three to offer you. They're within their rights to try to repair them but just applying a bit of glue doesn't strike me as very impressive. I even wonder whether that complies with Section 15 (1) (a) which requires a supplier to offer services "with reasonable care and skill"?

But here's another question to ask yourself, Were these sneakers genuine? You don't mention what brand they are but it's perhaps worth contacting the manufacturer for their observations. A legitimate manufacturer will take care to maintain their brand's reputation if the shoes are genuine and will want to take action against the store if they're not. Send me the details and we'll see what they have to say!

Monday, 19 February 2018

Vortex Profits - Central Bank of Ireland warning

The Central Bank of Ireland has issued a warning about Vortex Profits.
"The Central Bank of Ireland (‘Central Bank’) today (19 February 2018) published the name of an unauthorised firm, Vortex Profits Limited (Ireland). Vortex Profits Limited (Ireland) is not authorised by the Central Bank as an investment firm, investment business firm or to provide investment advice."
Many thanks goes to our good friend James Fern from the SCI Group who alerted the Central Bank of Ireland to the issue.

Background

The people promoting Vortex Profits claim that the company is “a remarkable investment platform … with an outstanding track record of 2 years for delivering best of class investment solutions and endless income-generating opportunity”. They suggest that investors can earn returns of between 2.5% and 4% every day by investing through Vortex Profits in Bitcoin, gold or oil.

These suggested earnings are clearly impossible, given that 2.5% per day implies an annual equivalent of over 800,000%. Even more unbelievably, a 4% return per day equates to an annual return of over 158,000,000%.

The facts are that the company was only registered in the Republic of Ireland in September 2017, contradicting their claim of a “track record of 2 years”. Furthermore, the physical address they offer is an accommodation address shared by hundreds of other companies and the telephone number they offer is not even in the Republic of Ireland but is in Sweden.

They claim to have been founded by someone called Griffin Wrights who they describe as a "renowned Entrepreneur" with "countless years of experience being a financial Planner". However, no trace exists of this person before or outside of Vortex Profits.

Given the contradictions and the ridiculous claims about the profits that can be made by “investing” in their schemes Consumer Watchdog suspects that Vortex Profits is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme and we urge consumers to exercise extreme caution when engaging with them.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Radio show notes - week beginning 12th February 2018

Source: Wikipedia
1. When a company goes bust

Two very similar emails arrived on the same day.
"I made a laybye purchase in a shop that was operating in Game City. Yesterday I went to the shop wanting to pay the remaining balance so that I could collect the bed I had purchased. Unfortunately I found the shop closed and locked with no sign of operation. I called one of the employees and he told me that the shop had been closed indefinitely and could not provide further details. I have paid P4,500 towards my purchase."
"I purchased a couch from a store in Game City in December 2017 and till this date they have not delivered the couch to me. They keep telling me that the owner of the store has fled the country so they have closed up all his shops as well as his warehouse therefore they can't deliver the couch. This is so unfair to me as I have fully paid for the couch so please assist me on a way forward regarding this matter."
Both related to the same store at Game City. So what can these customers do? If the company has no assets left there'll be nothing to seize, nothing to claim against. Probably best to instruct attorneys and see what they can do.

2. Whose car was it?
"I sold my car. The next day he called me and says my car is overheating. He demands his money back and he says I should take my car back, I told him thats not possible because I have already spend the money. We did not make a written agreement it was verbal. He then called me again complaining that the signatures on the blue book are not the same with the ones on my id copy so they declined to help him change names at transport. The signature is from the previous owner not me. I never changed it when I bought it from the previous owner and never made a written agreement with the guy before. I would really appreciate a way forward to this because this guy is really bothering me."
Who actually owned the car? There was no sale agreement when this guy bought the vehicle and the vehicle registration documents were never updated to show him as the owner. So did he actually own it? Is it possible that it's still owned by the previous owner? If so, was he entitled to sell it? Given that there's no proof of sale, and no updated blue book, who knows?

The danger is that the new "owner", the guy that doesn't want it any longer could get the current "owner" into a lot of trouble. Maybe he could even argue "Obtaining by false pretence"?
It's time to refund the latest buyer and take the car back.

3. Vortex Profits (again)

Vortex Profits claim that they are "an absolutely new revolutionary concept, a remarkable investment platform of a new era with an outstanding track record of 2 years for delivering best of class investment solutions and endless income-generating opportunity".

They say that you can join by paying between $25 and $50,000 (around P250 to P500,000) and that you can then earn returns between 2.5% and 4% return per day. Remember you'll be lucky to get a bank to offer more than 2.5% per year. In fact, if this was true (and it's obviously not) and you "invested" P1,000 today at 2.5% per day, after a year you'd have over P12 million. At 4% per day, you'd have over P3 billion. This is clearly nonsense. Only Ponzi schemes makes these claims.

There are some other clues that this is a scam. Their domain was registered in August 2017 and the company was registered in the Republic of Ireland only in September last year. The physical address the give in Dublin is just an accommodation address shared with many other "companies". The supposed founder of the company, someone they call Griffin Wright, and who they say is a "renowned Entrepreneur" and who has "countless years of experience being a financial Planner" doesn't appear to actually exist. There's no trace of him existing outside this bogus company.

Vortex Profits is a Ponzi scheme. Remember Eurextrade? Its twin brother has arrived.

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where's my laybye?

Report 1. I made a laybye purchase in a shop that was operating in Game City. Yesterday I went to the shop wanting to pay the remaining balance so that I could collect the bed I had purchased. Unfortunately I found the shop closed and locked with no sign of operation. I called one of the employees and he told me that the shop had been closed indefinitely and could not provide further details. Please advise on how this should be handled since I have paid P4,500 towards my purchase. I have the receipts for the payments I have done so far and was remaining with a balance of P1,000 to collect the bed.

Report 2. I purchased a couch from a store in Game City in December 2017 and till this date they have not delivered the couch to me. When I call to enquirer they keep telling me that the owner of the store has fled the country and people want their rentals so they have closed up all his shops as well as his warehouse therefore they can't deliver the couch. This is so unfair to me as I have fully paid for the couch so please assist me on a way forward regarding this matter.


This is very sad. Two different reports on the same day from different people with the same experience of the same store! Unfortunately, I suspect there's little that can be done if the owner has skipped the country. You'll probably have a legal claim against the company but that's only useful if the company still has assets that you can claim against. You'll probably need to consult an attorney to see if this is possible. They can investigate what's happening with the company and its assets but I'm not optimistic.

I'm sorry that I don't have any better news for you.

Did I really sell my car?

I sold my car to a certain individual. He test drove it and was happy with it. We left Gaborone and went to Mochudi to get the cash and back to Gaborone to drop me home and he went back home to Mochudi. The next day around 10am he calls me and says my car is overheating (just the temp gauge is going up) I ask him how come now yet yesterday it was alright hence we even drove about 120km or so and it has no issues. He demands his money back and he says i should take my car back, He hasn't been using it ever since Friday but I told him thats not possible because I have already spend the money and i gave him a car which he was satisfied with hence he took it. We did not make a written agreement it was verbal.

He then called me again complaining that the signatures on the blue book are not the same with the ones on the id copy so they declined to help him change names at transport. The signature is from the previous owner not me. I never changed it when I bought it from the previous owner because I knew the guy didn't really see the need of changing it and we never made a written agreement with the guy before.

I would really appreciate a way forward to this because this guy is really bothering me.


This is much more complicated than you might think. I'm not an attorney but I think you're in a very strange legal situation. I suspect that you might have sold a car that you didn't actually own. Or rather a vehicle you can't prove that you owned. If you think about it, there is no proof that the car belonged to you. There was no written sale agreement that described the change of ownership and the blue book, the vehicle registration document, still shows the details of the previous owner.

The guy who bought the car might even be in a position to suggest that you sold the car illegally and there's not much you can do to prove anything different.

Given that you can't prove that the car belonged to you and that you are therefore in a dangerous situation, and given that the car isn't working properly and without a sale agreement you can't prove the buyer accepted that the car was in working order I don't think you have much choice. You need to find a way to refund him the amount he paid you and take back the car and get it in your name.

The lesson is simple. Written agreements are essential whenever you sell something. And make sure you change the ownership of a vehicle when you buy it!

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Radio show notes - week beginning 5th February 2018

Source: Wikipedia
1. Hire purchase vs store cards

"I bought a laptop using my store card last year December. Two weeks later my house was broken into and they took all electrical appliances including the laptop. The other shops gave me new items after I brought the police affidavit. But the laptop they are refusing to replace the laptop but I'm paying every month for something which is not there. Please help."

Most hire purchase schemes include some form of insurance that will cover the customer against theft and fire. However, these insurance policies are often incredibly expensive, costing several times more than a similar policy from an insurance company. You can often get a household insurance policy that covers the entire contents of your house for little more than the cost of the insurance within the HP contract that only covers the items you're hiring.

In this case, the HP insurance replaced the other items but this customer bought the laptop using his store card. I checked the small print of the store card agreement and while it included insurance for death,disability and loss of income (retrenchment etc) it didn't;t cover theft.

The lesson is that a household insurance policy covers everything, including laptops and cellphones and is a much cheaper option in the long run. Insurance might seem expensive but it's not as expensive as not having insurance..

2. Car sale scam

"I am currently selling one of my cars, a 2007 BMW. I advertised it on Social Media and one guy claiming that he is from UK showed interest. He asked me to open a Paypal account. He said he will make the full payment after which his shipping agents will contact me to deliver the car. He said they will be coming from Turkey to pick it up from me after the payment has been successfully made. How credible is a Paypal account and whats your advise in the whole set-up?"

Paypal is a very safe way to buy things online. You link your Paypal account to your credit card and your card details are then kept secret when you buy things online. I've used it before and I would happily use it again.

However this situation has nothing to do with Paypal. It's a scam.

Ask yourself this. What would someone in the UK want to import a car from Botswana. And using an agent in Turkey? Doesn't the second-hand car trade usually operate in the opposite direction?

The buyer here wanted P48,000 for his BMW. Some quick research found an identical car on sale in the UK for the equivalent of P39,000. So why would the buyer want to spend all that extra money on a more expensive car that would need to be shipped around the planet?

Because there is no buyer, there's only a scammer. Sooner or later there would be some fee, perhaps an duty, tax or fee that the seller needed to pay in advance. An "advance fee". A scam.

3. The small print (again)

We received an invitation to the "Regional Secretaries Conference" to be held at the Avani Hotel on 27-28 February for P8,999. Included in the terms and conditions was this:
"In the event that Business Communicator cancels or postpones an event for any reason, you will receive a credit voucher of 100% of the course fee paid and no refund will be given under any circumstances. The credit voucher will may be used at another Business Communicator event, which is valid for one year from the date if issuance."
So if the conference is cancelled or postponed and you can't or don't want to attend the rescheduled conference you lose your money. That's IF it's rescheduled. And after a year say goodbye to your money.

Friday, 9 February 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can I get a new laptop?

I bought a laptop using my store card last year December. So two weeks later my house was broken in they took all electrical appliances with the laptop included but the other shops gave me new items after I brought the police report affidavit. But the laptop which I bought they are refusing to replace the laptop but I'm paying every month for something which is not there so please help.


One of the few good things about hire purchase, perhaps the only one, is that it usually comes with an insurance policy that covers you if the items you bought are stolen or destroyed. That's what I assume happened with the other items that were replaced by the other stores. However, this doesn't mean hire purchase is a good idea. The price that most stores charge for this insurance is several times the cost of a household insurance policy you could get from an insurance company. What's more, the household policy would cover everything in your house, not just one item.

However, in this case I have bad news. You didn't buy the laptop using hire purchase which had an insurance policy, you bought it using your store card. I checked the terms and conditions of that store's card and while it includes insurance it only covers you against your death, disability and loss of income. In those situations your store card debt would be paid off but in this situation you're out of luck. It doesn't cover theft.

The lesson from this is the value of insurance. A household insurance policy would cover everything in the house and most policies would allow you to include a laptop or cellphone, even when they're taken out of the house. It's a lot cheaper than you think and those people who think insurance is expensive should ask themselves whether it's as expensive as not having insurance!

Can I trust Paypal?

I am currently selling one of my cars, a 2007 BMW. I advertised it on Social Media and one guy claiming that he is from UK showed interest. Now he asked me to open a Paypal account so that he can carry out transaction in it. He said he will make the full payment after which his shipping agents will contact me to deliver the car. He said they will be coming from Turkey to pick it up from me after the payment has been successfully made.

How credible is a Paypal account and whats your advise in the whole set-up?


There's nothing inherently suspicious about Paypal. I've used it before and I know a lot of other people have used it successfully and safely. It's actually one of the safest way to spend money online. But that doesn't mean that everyone who uses it, or who claims to use it, can be trusted.

I suspect that Paypal isn't the issue here. I doubt Paypal will ever even be involved.

Let's start with a few basic questions. Why would someone in the UK want to buy an eleven year old second-hand car from Botswana? And why would they send an agent from Turkey to get it for them? Can you imagine how expensive that might be? It would cost a vast amount of money to travel from Turkey to Botswana and then to ship the vehicle to the UK. And why would anyone do this when the second-hand car market is so much bigger in the UK? Don't we all know of people who have imported cars to Botswana from the UK because the prices there are seen to be cheaper?

I suspect that this is the beginning of a scam. Sooner or later they'll ask you to make some payment to them. They might say it's a legal fee or some tax or duty that they'll say becomes payable before the car can be shipped. Whatever it is, it'll be a fee they ask for in advance of the payment they're tempting you with. That's why it's called an "advance fee" scam.

It's time to stop communicating with this guy. Please don't fall victim to his lies!

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Radio show notes - week beginning 29th January 2018

Source: Wikipedia
1. Another scam

The victim wanted to buy shopping containers and found a supplier in South Africa called "RAT Recycling and Trading". He bought 2 containers for R30,000k and sent the money by using a bank to bank transfer. The supplier promised delivery in November 2017.

"The next thing I was called by someone one who said because I did not pay for VAT I had to pay R9000 for each container as a Refundable Insurance Policy so I made another payment to the same recipient. I expected shipment to commence but instead I was told to pay for storage charges which I refused to pay because I am not the one who caused the delay. The supplier kept telling me to pay storage charges. Because this was taking too long I decided to agree to paying only after the shipper sent their companies address, registration number, landlines and other documents. That was the last communication. I've paid them R37000. What should I do now?"

Observations

RAT in SA appears to be fake. It doesn't appear to be a registered company in SA and no trace of any genuine business activity. The web domain they use was only registered in November 2017 and the physical address appears to be someone's house.

The issue of VAT is also suspicious. VAT is 14% in SA, how do they arrive at R9,000? And then it's a "Refundable Insurance Policy"? The payments made for this alleged VAT were "made via Western Union to a different recipient".

This is a scam.

Q. "What should I do now?"
A. There's nothing you can do. Scammers don't offer refunds.



2. Insurance

"My car got involved in an accident last year November. It was a minor one and the guy told me its ok I can go and his insurance will fix his car. By the way the police charged me. Now this year his insurance company wrote to me saying I owe them 28 000 pula for those repairs. Is this allowed please?"

Observations

Insurance benefits the person who pays for it. If you cause the accident, you pay for it. If you're insured then your insurance company will pay on your behalf. That what they call "transfer of risk".

Third-party vehicle insurance covers damage to another person's vehicle if you are forced to pay for the repairs. Fully comprehensive cover covers everything. Your vehicle and any other vehicles that might be damaged.

Q. Should 3rd party insurance be compulsory?
A. Hell yes!



3. Read the small print

RCS credit card is offered in several store, apparently charging 2.66% interest per month which was actually reasonable, similar to most credit cards. It's roughly 37% per year.

BUT people complained about the "initiation fee" and "monthly service fee" they were charged which wasn't mentioned clearly when they applied for the card.

These are from the T&Cs on the RCS web site.
"You will be charged a monthly service fee ... You will also be charged a once-off initiation fee. After that, you will be charged your monthly service, insurance premium, and interest if you have a balance outstanding."

"we will determine the amount of any interest, fees and other costs that will be charged to your account."

"The amount and frequency of the service fee will be set out in your agreement, however, we may change this amount."

"The frequency of statements will be at our discretion"

"If your account goes into arrears ... you will be charged default administration costs and any other costs and fees relating to debt collection activities"

"we may process, record and/or disclose your personal information, including details of any transactions on your account ... any person or company working for or with us ... any of our retail partners"
Q1: Did you read the small print?
Q2. Are you comfortable with your details being spread like this?