Friday, 29 June 2012

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I bought a bed at a furniture store in Gaborone last year and after 2 months the mattress started to show some wires and that made it to be totally uncomfortable. I reported the matter at the shop in May, June, July and they kept promising to change it until in November I decided to stop the payment because they are not assisting me with changing the mattress. One of the ladies there called me and advised me to continue paying because they will come and change it and from February till now I have been paying but they have not yet come to change it.

So I do not know if I should continue paying or if I should stop paying?

In the contract there is a clause which says if I breach the terms or if i fail to pay my installments on the due date then the full amount or balance of the price of the goods shall immediately become due and payable and the store can at their sole discretion can sell the goods and retain the monies paid by me and the proceeds of the re-sale in settlement of my indebtedness to them, provided that any monies received by them in this manner in excess of my debt shall be refunded to me. I do not understand this, if possible you can help me to understand it.

Please help me.

First things first, you must NOT stop paying for your credit agreement.

The clauses in the contract you mention are fairly normal. They mean that if you stop making your repayments they're entitled to come after you for the full outstanding balance, minus any money they get from selling goods they've repossessed from you. However that would be the worst thing that could happen, as you'd have no goods left and would still owe them money.

Given that the store has let you down by failing to repair or replace your mattress I think it’s up to them to come up with a solution as soon as possible. If you stick to your obligations it’s only fair that they stick to theirs.

We’ll get in touch with the store and see if we can encourage them to get a move on with fixing your mattress.

Update: He got a new bed to replace the broken one.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I need your advice. It was sometime in 2011 when I got a loan from a cash loan company of P2,500. I made some payments which I don’t remember clearly and I defaulted. This year on the 14 June he brought a letter of demand which stipulates that I owe the company P13,085. I’ve been given 7 days to respond failing which they will engage sheriffs. Please help me.

You need to contact the lender urgently and demand a full breakdown of the amount he claims you owe. You also need to make him aware that you know about the “in duplum” rule which governs how much a court will demand you pay back when you settle a debt. The rule states that at the time of the settlement of a debt the interest charged cannot exceed the capital amount outstanding. Even if you still owed P2,500 he couldn’t charge more than that amount on top as interest. Given that you did make some payments I can’t see how the amount he could demand from you would exceed P5,000 at the most.


It turns out that the lender also took the reader’s ATM card, which is strictly forbidden by NBFIRA. All lenders know this, there’s no excuse. When I spoke to the lender he claimed that he was “in the process” of registering with NBFIRA, which all such lenders should have done a long time ago. He’s subsequently told the reader that he can’t find the receipt book that records the payments she made. That, by the way, is another breach of the rules set by NBFIRA. They demand that full and accurate records must be kept at all times. He also doesn’t release that a bullying moneylender can’t just send round the deputy sheriffs without an order from a court.

The lesson is simple. Avoid moneylenders as if they were a foul, communicable disease. However if circumstances force you to use their loathsome services then you must honor your obligations to them, so long as they’re legal. Also you must keep full records of every payment you receive and make. Keep copies of every receipt you get and don’t lose them. Also, check that they are registered with NBFIRA. NBFIRA is one of the few regulators we have that is prepared to get it’s hands dirty when necessary so let’s make full use of them!

A further update

NBFIRA are getting involved. Expect this to be fixed very soon!

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