Saturday, 21 April 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay the excess?

I have a situation here, I have a car insurance policy which was recommended by my bank as I am paying the car through a bank car loan. About 2 months ago the car was involved in an accident, we took quotations and submitted to the insurance company which they approved.

The repair place told us to bring the car for fixing but yesterday they called saying the car is ready and we have to pay P5,000 excess as the insurance did not cover that. We were shocked as we were not told this before.

My husband who has been handling the case went to the insurance company and they told him that the premium that I chose I have to pay the excess fee, I know you always blame us for not reading contracts but the one I signed doesn't have that clause all it has is that I'm in group 6 and doesn't further clarify the group 6. Please help me out what do I do in this situation?


Unfortunately this is how vehicle insurance works. I know that the vehicle insurance policies I've had (and I've had many of them) have always included an "excess" clause. This is an amount that the customer has to pay before the insurance company pays. In most cases with a vehicle insurance policy it will be a few thousand although the exact amount varies between insurance companies and between policies. The reason they exist is to prevent customers from making trivial claims. With some insurance companies they'll give you the chance to pay a higher premium in return for a lower excess.

I know you sent me the insurance documents you have but they didn't include the actual policy document, just the latest renewal note from your bank. I suggest you get a copy of the policy document from the insurance company and I'm sure it will mention the excess amount.

Meanwhile, I've contacted the insurance company to double check and to find out how one of their customers could have been allowed to sign a policy without having been thoroughly educated on how it worked. And here's a plea to the insurance industry. Please make your policies easier to understand and do more to educate us all on how insurance works. We know insurance is incredibly useful so why aren't you helping consumers to understand how it can protect us all?

How can they blacklist me?

I have concerns regarding my consumer profile. I tried to apply for a credit account at a store recently and I was told the system has declined my request. They suspected I might be blacklisted, therefore I assured them that all my accounts are in good order. The assistant advised me to get a copy of my profile from the Post Office and check if there is any service provider that has done that, although previously I had an issue with another store and my banks due to areas but that was settled last year and everything is up to date.

I went to the Post Office to do just that and surprisingly my profile shows that there is no information submitted by any company under my name, my record is clean. Therefore I would like an assistance upon this issue about the next step to take because I am afraid this is going to tarnish my name upon any future relations I would like to indulge in with any company or service provider.

Please assist me to clear my name, your assistance will be highly appreciated.


I'm sorry to hear about this. It's a story I've heard before. Remember that credit reference bureaux hold both positive and negative information on people. The irony is that if you have no record at all, a potential lender has no information on which to base a decision and rather than seeing you as a person with no bad history, they see you as a complete unknown and sometimes won't take the risk.

It might be worth taking a copy of your TransUnion record back to the store and showing them that you're a good bet? I'll also talk to them and see if they can't be a little bit more flexible!

Friday, 13 April 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Do I have a case?

I need advice on whether I have a case or not? I bought a TV at last year March 17. By November it started developing faults with some lines across the screen and at times only half of it comes on when switched on. I called the store on the 3rd December to enquire on repairs and I was told I could not bring it in as technicians were going for holidays. I was told to come in January. I couldn't return it in January through March and only managed to see them on the 27th March. Now they say they can't help me since the warranty expired on the 17th March. I was asked to personally take the TV for repairs and bear all costs. My complaint is was it fair for them to refuse to take in my TV at a time when I was ready to bring it in and now refuse to help me? Shouldn't they at least meet me halfway on repair costs? Thanks in advance.

Did the store staff have too much to drink over the Christmas holiday?

No, I do NOT think they should meet you halfway. They should pay for everything.

I know you took too long in returning the TV, that was unfortunate, but that's not the important issue here. The thing that matters is that you told them about the fault in December, well within the warranty period. The fact that they then weren't sufficiently competent to have technicians available is what matters. I'm not saying that technicians can't go on holiday over Christmas but from as early as the 3rd December? That's just ridiculous. You had a right to expect that the store would have the resources available to attend to your problem within a reasonable period and with what Section 15 (1) (a) of the Consumer Protection Regulations refers to as "reasonable care and skill".

We'll get in touch with the store and see if they can understand this.

Is this loan legitimate?

Is it possible for you to verify the existence of company known as Liberty Financial Services code 2193 registration no 1999/063355/23?

I suspect that you're dealing with scammers. Let me guess. You received an unsolicited email from them or you saw an advertisement from them on Facebook? Did they tell you that you were eligible for "a loan of R10,000 to R10 million" at only 3% interest each year? If they emailed you, did the email come from a Gmail address?

The reason I'm making these guesses is that we've heard of this scam many times before.

The first clever thing about this scam is they're using the name "Liberty" and you probably know that there are various legitimate, trustworthy companies with that name. They're hoping you'll confuse the fake Liberty with the real ones.

The other clever part of it is that they're using the registration details of a genuine South African lender called Loancare Chain but that's just a cover story. They have no connection with the legitimate company at all. The truth is that no lender offers loans to total strangers who haven't approached them first. Real lenders don't offer enormous loans at only 3% interest per year.

In fact this is just the beginning of an advance fee scam. Sooner or later they'll require some form of payment from you in order to get the fictitious loan they say they're offering you. That's what the scam is all about, that "advance fee" that you pay them. if you do fall for it and pay them they'll just string you along with more and more demands for more money. This won't stop until you either wise up or run out of money.

I suggest that you delete any emails or messages you've had from them and ignore any that arrive in future.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Where is my P800?

I paid P800 for my ACCA P3 classes last year in March at a tutoring place in the Main Mall. The tutor later told me that there were no P3 classes yet and I was the only student. Therefore I ended up not going at all and my employer took me to BAC instead. The tutor agreed that he will refund me but when I call he'll tell me he forgot or he lost my number or he doesn't have money yet. Kindly help me since it looks like this cycle will not stop.



I think this has gone on long enough. The receipt you showed me made it clear that he'd received your money for a class that he didn't deliver and he knew he had to refund you your money. What this supposed accountant seems to forget is that Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations says that when a deal is cancelled, as yours so clearly has been, the service provider must refund any payments made "promptly". I don't think that "promptly" means "a year later". I don't even think it means "three months later". I think that "promptly" means "within a few days, perhaps a week at most".

I contacted the guy and asked him when he was planning to give you your money back but unfortunately he wasn't happy to hear from me. When I mentioned that he might feature in The Voice he SMSed me saying "Well do it in that way. I will personally apply for a court case against u.... U think i am a thief. Well."

I'll be looking forward to the case.

He later told me: "Do what u want am not a thief . I have an office y didnt not summon me or call me to consumer office . I dont run away. I want to talk to her is only peeson i can tell when i refund her . I dont know u".

Later still he told me that he'd lost your number and "I want to talk to her is only peeson i can tell when i refund her . I dont know u". However he then became a bit more reasonable, saying "By the way if u have number of that tell i give after 3 weeks. I went thru several losses by my farm".

Roughly translated into English he means that he'll pay you in three weeks but can we trust him? I think you should write him a letter saying that he has 14 days to refund you or you'll take legal action against him to recover your money. If he fails to do so then you should go straight to the Small Claims Court for an order against him. You might also want to check with the Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants to see if he's really the Chartered Accountant he claims to be. I suspect he isn't!

Is World Ventures legit?

Mr Richard. I need your input, is World Ventures legit?


I get asked this question at least once a month and this is the answer I always give.

World Ventures is a pyramid scheme. The authorities in Norway announced a few years ago that they were certain that World Ventures is a pyramid scheme because 95% of all the money paid out to recruits was for the recruitment of other people, not from actually selling things. That's a pyramid scheme.

Like other schemes World Ventures are required by some countries to publish income statements that show what their distributors actually earn from their business. With World Ventures the latest figures from the USA show that three-quarters of all people who join make absolutely nothing from the business. Of the rest, almost all of the money was earned by the few people at the top of the pyramid. You want details? More than two thirds (actually 68.7%) of all the income went to the 3.7% at the top. And let's make it clear, the earnings made by the people at the tops came directly from those at the bottom of the pyramid. That's gross exploitation.


Taking every American recruit into account, the median earnings were a meagre $33, just P330 per year and those figures were income, not profit. They excluded all the costs associated with running the "business" like transport, phone and internet bills. With the exception of those few people at the top, everyone else loses money with World Ventures.

Do you want someone building a pyramid for an exploitative leader? There's a word for that role.

Friday, 30 March 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

What is Carcoin?

Could you kindly investigate and give me your thoughts on Carcoin? I have been invited to some presentations at the Avani hotel and it seems this "investment scheme/cryptocurrency" is picking up pace in Botswana. I did some research of my own and it seems one first has to invest $200. What are your thoughts?

My thoughts are very simple. I think it's a scam. And I'm not wrong.

They describe themselves as a "car sharing community" and say that there is "no need to buy any car" and that they "are always there at your service". They then go on to explain that they are basically a taxi firm that "is available in every city we operate in". But they don't say which cities that might be, so I think it's safe to say that this isn't true. They even claim to be developing an app that you can use to call for a ride but this isn't going to available, they say, until December 2019. So far so suspicious. Clearly they are pretending to be something like Uber, the taxi company that operates in various cities around the world, even as close as Joburg. I've used Uber there and it's a truly remarkable way to get around. But Carcoin isn't Uber.

Soon things become a lot clearer. They start hinting that they are using blockchain technologies, the same technology used by Bitcoin. There's nothing inherently suspicious about that, the blockchain concept is certainly going to play a role in business in the future but there's no evidence this is true in the case of Carcoin. They also suggest that you can buy Carcoins, suggesting that they have their own cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. Again, there is no evidence to believe this.

I think I know what's going on here. Carcoin are exploiting the ideas behind Bitcoin and Uber to get our money from us. The clue is on their web site when they say that if you want to buy Carcoins you can do so using Bitcoin. So you give them your genuine Bitcoin cryptocurrency and they give you their fake Carcoins in return. All you'll be doing is giving your money away and getting nothing in return.

Finally, the so-called CEO of Carcoin has a history of connection with dodgy schemes so I think it's reasonable to assume that Carcoin is no more than a Ponzi scheme. Simple as that.

What is Randbuilders?

I was invited to join Randbuilders recently. Do you know about it?



You're not the first person to ask that recently. Randbuilders seem to have decided to bring their money-making scheme from South Africa to Botswana! Aren't we lucky?

Actually we're not. They describe themselves as "a Multi Level Marketing Business which enables Participants to learn to master the business of network marketing while creating an additional income stream for themselves" but they're nothing more than a pyramid scheme. The difference between a Multi Level Marketing scheme and a pyramid scheme is the former has products to sell. If you think of MLMs like Amway and Herbalife, while you won't make any money from joining their pyramid-structured business, at least there are some products to buy. With a pyramid scheme there are no products and Randbuilders is a very good example of that.

The only reference to products I could find on their web site said that when you join the scheme "you purchase master resale right to promote your own business". That's just silly. You pay to join their scheme and then you get the right to advertise your own business? Something you can do for free anyway?

The only thing that Randbuilders wants is multiple levels of recruitment and the flow of money up the pyramid they're trying to build. And they need victims to do that. Do you really want to be one of their victims?

Guess what else I discovered about Randbuilders? The person who registered Randbuilder's domain name in December last year was also an active recruiter for MMM Global, the collapsed Russian Ponzi scheme and is connected to a wide range of other schemes. Yes, you CAN judge someone by their history of involvement in scams!

Saturday, 24 March 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why won't they fix it?

I need help. I bought a fridge and microwave from a store in Molepolole. The fridge has been repaired twice and today it still has problems. I have long reported this to the stock clerk but she didn't help. I went to the manager and he promised to send a technician to check it out but he never came. Months and months passed and still I got no help. When I went back to the shop to see him, I saw a new manager and reported to him and he promised he would get a technician but there is still no sign of a technician. I went back to the shop end of January 2018 and told the manager that am giving him the whole of February to get a technician but even today there is still no technician. I paid for a replacement, insurance including repairs and I have paid all the money. So what do I do?


What do you do? I think you should stop being so patient.

I'm not sure whether you bought these items for cash or on hire purchase but I don't think that should make any difference. Either way you paid, or are paying for a fridge that works, not one that doesn't. You've been very patient and spoken to people at various levels but nothing has worked so far. It's time to escalate. It's time to adopt the Official Consumer Watchdog Three Step Complaints Procedure.

I recommend that you use this procedure any time you don't get results. Ignore a store's complaints procedure and adopt this one instead. Remember that there's no law that says you have to obey someone else complaints procedure. Also remember that complaints procedures are ALWAYS written for the store's convenience, not for yours.

The first step is to complain to the person who offended you. If that doesn't work, go to the second step which is to complain to the most important person in the building. Their title will include the word "Manager". If that doesn't fix the problem for you then go directly to the third step which is to complain to the most important person in the entire organization. Their title will be Managing Director or Chief Executive O
fficer. If anyone tells you that you can't do this, just ignore them.

However, in your case we'll do this for you. We'll contact the Managing Director of the company. That should do the trick!

He didn't finish the job!

Hi Richard. I have a problem. I deployed a guy to do my kitchen and ceiling and he did the job. I am away from home and he called to say he's done so I paid him everything. When I went to inspect I found out that part of the kitchen and the sink were not fitted. I called him and he told me that they were stolen but there was no breaking in of any sort in the house. I asked him why he didn't tell me he said my phone was not available. He promised he will replace everything on the 20th February. He didn't honor his promise, he didn't call up until today. So I need your help as to what I should do now since I've paid him all the money for the whole job he did.


I suspect you don't need me to lecture you on what you should have done in this situation but forgive me for doing so anyway. Whenever you engage someone to do a job like this you must agree a payment schedule before they start the work. I understand that often small businesses need some money up front to buy the goods and I also know that they need a commitment from their customer but you should normally agree to withhold some of the money until the job has been completed. Personally, I would be uncomfortable paying more than 50% to any builder before they started work. If I was feeling generous I might agree to then paying the remaining 50% in two equal, staged payments but ensuring that the last one was only paid when I'd inspected the work. An alternative is to buy the materials yourself and then just pay the builder for their work.

However, in your case it's too late. I think you should write him a letter demanding a copy of the police report he filed when he found that the goods had been stolen. And if he didn't… then we can assume he's making that bit up, can't we? Tell him in the letter that he has 7 days or you'll report HIM to the police for stealing the goods. Make him sweat a bit!

Saturday, 17 March 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

The beer has expired!

There is a bar in Mochudi next to the Engen filling station that is it selling expired Black Label beer. The words on the bottle say the beer Best before 09 Feb 18. I asked the cashiers why they sell the expired product and they told me the owner doesn't want them to remove it from the stock.

Please assist us.


Actually, the bar isn't doing anything illegal. That's because the bottle has a "Best before" date, not an "Expiry" date but you're not the first person who has confused the two different dates and what they mean.

The most important date you might see is the "Expiry date", sometimes shown as the "Use By" date. Any store that sells something after these dates is going to be in big trouble with the authorities because that's illegal, contrary to the Labelling of Prepackaged Foods Regulations. No store wants to do that.

However, what you saw was something different. The juice you bought showed a "Best Before" date. These dates are less strictly controlled because they're just advisory, informing the customer when the goods will be in their best condition. There's no suggestion that goods consumed after this date are harmful or dangerous. However, I still think it's a bad practice even if it's not actually illegal for a store to sell an item after the Best Before date. Who wants to drink beer that is no longer in the best condition?

I think you should speak to the bar owner and politely suggest that he or she needs to find a better way to manage their stock so that their customers don't have to drink old beer. I suspect there's no shortage of bars in Mochudi and you and your friends can easily choose a bar where they sell best quality beer rather than the old stuff. The bar owner needs to know that!

LISTERIOSIS
Enerprise corned meats
Source: Wikipedia

Readers of The Voice will probably have seen reports of the dreadful outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa. It looks like the outbreak which was traced to a Tiger Brands production plant in Polokwane caused at least 180 deaths and nearly a thousand other people severe food poisoning. Tragically it seems that many of the deaths were young children which is a common thing with listeriosis which often hits hardest amongst children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.

The good news for us is that there's no suggestion that there have been any cases in Botswana but that's probably because we were lucky. Our Ministry of Health and Wellness quickly instructed all stores to remove the affected products (processed meat products such as polony, russians and viennas) from shelves. Consumers were also warned not to consume any of these products from the affected companies and if they had any, to return them to the stores for a full refund.

Meanwhile, just in case any store has missed it, or if there are some that don't care, please be vigilant. Until further notice please don't eat any prepared meat products from Tiger Brands, Enterprise Food or Rainbow Chicken. But you need to take a step further. Don't eat ANY polony, russions or viennas unless you can be certain they didn't come from these suppliers. That means any places where you can't see the original packaging and in particular it means street food vendors. For now, hotdogs are off the menu, ok?

However, there are some enormously important lessons we all need to learn from this tragedy. Firstly, we need to learn a lot more about food hygiene and safety. The scary fact is that one of the most dangerous stages in the route food takes from farm to table is the consumer. Yes, you and me, we're often the source of food poisoning, either because we don't refrigerate risky products adequately or because we don't know how to safely prepare the food we eat and that we give to the people who matter most to us.

And there's a final lesson, one that might make me very unpopular. We must take a critical look at the food we eat. Have you ever taken a moment to discover how products like polony are made? If you're feeling brave, search the web or YouTube for "mechanically separated meat". You might never eat it again.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Why can't I get a refund?

Hi. I kindly plead with you to assist me getting back my money from my insurance company. I had a policy with them which I terminated last month so they are saying they can't refund me my money back but they have never handled any claim for me.

Can you please help?

I'm sorry but I suspect I won't be able to help. That's because this is how insurance works. When you open a policy with an insurance company, whether it's to cover your funeral, your life, your vehicle or your household contents what you're actually doing is paying the insurance company to take on the risk of these things being damaged instead of you having that risk. During the life of that policy, if something terrible happens then the insurance company pays to put it right instead of you. If someone passes away, if you have a car accident, if there's a break-in at your house or even if you die, the insurance company will cover the costs so you don't have to.

We're often asked by consumer the question you're asking. But what if I never had to claim? Doesn't that mean I should get my money back? No, because you got something during the lifetime of your policy. You got the absence of risk. The insurance gave you cover during that period. Ask yourself this. If you owned a house and rented it to a tenant for a year but at the end of the year they told you that they'd never actually moved in, would you refund them the rent they'd paid during the year? No, you wouldn't and it's the same with the insurance company. It wouldn't be your fault that the tenant didn't move in and it's not the fault of the insurance company that you were lucky not to need to claim. Would you rather there'd been a disaster?

Is this award genuine?

I received an email saying that my company has been awarded the Gold prize Century International Quality ERA Award from a company called Business Initiative Directions. Do you think this is genuine?

Here it comes again! Every year we're asked the same question by many people like yourself regarding these awards and the story is always the same. Many people had received surprise emails from BID over the last few years, announcing that they'd won an award and inviting them to collect it at gala dinners in exotic places such as Paris, New York and Geneva. This year it's supposed to be in Frankfurt in Germany. In all cases it's not made clear how these winners had been selected and what qualified Business Initiative Directions to award anything to anyone.

So my feeling is that this award scheme is deceptive. I believe that it's no more than a money-making scheme by the organisers.

Last year when I looked into the scheme BID was charging companies €4,200 (about P50,000) to receive the award and that doesn't include the travel costs associated with flying to last year's venue in Geneva, Switzerland. That amount only covered attendance at a gala dinner, a hotel room the winners had to share with colleagues, some certificates, a trophy and some photographs of people accepting these dubious awards. I did the maths and I suspect that BID makes a huge amount of money, last year probably about P30,000 from every "award" they give away and I believe that's what the whole thing is about. Making money.

The bad news is that every year companies fall for this silliness and spend large amounts of money on "awards" that are little more than hugely expensive pieces of paper, awarded effectively at random. Is that really what an award should be?

I can think of many better ways to spend the P75,000 that it would probably cost to receive this so-called award. If you genuinely believe that your company is doing a good job, is a great employer and treats its customer wonderfully then spend just a fraction of the money you'd spend on this bogus award on a huge party to say thanks to your staff and your customers. That would do so much more good than wasting your money with BID. Don't forget to send me an invitation to the party!

Friday, 2 March 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay him extra?

In 2016 I engaged a painter for my house and he gave me a quotation for P30,000 for supplying and fitting. He said I should pay 60% or P18,000 deposit. I also paid the P12,000 balance when he completed the project and invoiced me.

Later on he complained that he used a different material from the one he had quoted initially. He keeps phoning and visiting me demanding extra P10,000. So I want to stop him from following me as I have fulfilled the agreement. How can I stop him from pursuing me?


I think this painter might have been drinking some of the chemicals he uses to strip paint off walls. Either that or he's deluded. He certainly has no idea how business works. Maybe you were his first ever customer?

The simple facts are that unless you agreed to pay him the extra money then you have no obligation to do so. He told you in the quotation that the work would cost P30,000 and I assume the invoice he gave you when he had completed the work was for the remaining P12,000? If that's true then you've paid him the full amount that you both agreed you were meant to pay. You certainly don't need to pay for his lack of competence in estimating the materials he was meant to use.

I suggest that you write him a letter saying this and telling him to stop bothering you. If he doesn't stop then go to your local Police station and lay a charge of intimidation against him. If the Police have forgotten, remind them that his behaviour is contrary to Section 234 of the Penal Code of Botswana. If you think he needs some education, you might want to tell the painter that the maximum sentence for intimidation is three years of free accommodation courtesy of the State.

Must I pay interest?

I need your help please. I had a store credit card back in 2010 while I was still at tertiary. I had a balance of P1,500 when I finished school. Since then I never got anything income generating enough for me to pay them back they took my debt to the debt collectors. Now these guys are on my case telling me that I now owe them P3,000. Since I'm not working I will have to pay at least P100 monthly but then monthly there will be interest of P70 How legal and legit is this?

Unfortunately for you this is completely legal and legit. This is how debt often works. It doesn't matter whether it's a bank loan, a credit card, a hire purchase agreement or in this case a store card, if you don't pay the lender what you owe they're going to start applying interest and penalty charges to the amount you owe. As in your case, you can easily see your debt double over a couple of years if no payments were made.

Eventually they'll hand over the debt to a debt collector who'll chase you down and do their best to reclaim as much as possible from you.

However, the good news is that if you sit down with the debt collector they're likely to agree a repayment plan with you that both satisfies their desire for the money and your ability to afford it. No debt collector wants to take a debtor to court, they want to get their money as easily as possible.

I suggest that you agree a payment plan with the debt collector and then do your very best to stick to it.

And the lesson? Store cards are often marketed to us as something convenient for us, the consumers. In fact, it's just another way for stores to lend us money and then to charge us credit-card like interest rates. Please so your very best to avoid them!

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?

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Must I pay?

I'm desperately asking for you advice. 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?


Yes, I'm afraid that's how it works. I assume from the fact that the Police charged you, that you were the one who caused the accident? The rule, both morally and legally, is if you cause an accident, then you must pay for it. In this case, the other driver had insurance cover that paid the immediate costs of repairing his vehicle, but that doesn't change the fact that it's your role to foot the bill at the end of the day.

The critical thing about vehicle insurance is that the insurance company covers the costs of the person who pays for it, not anyone else. His insurance company isn't going to cover your costs, they're going to cover his. He was the one paying the premiums after all.

However, I still think it's reasonable for the insurance company to justify the costs they're charging. You should ask for copies of the invoices from the company that repaired his vehicle but there's no way you can escape paying for it.

The lesson here is that everyone should have at least third-party vehicle insurance. If you'd had such a policy, it would have covered the P28,000 you'll now have to find, minus the "excess" amount that most insurance policies include.

I'm not the only one who thinks we should go one step further and make third-party vehicle insurance compulsory if you're going to drive a car on the roads of Botswana.

I'm sorry I don't have better news.

Where are my containers?

I wanted to buy used containers from South Africa because in Botswana they are very expensive. I came across the place to buy called RAT Recycling and Trading and I requested for quotations. I ended up sending money from my bank account for 2 containers. After payment was acknowledged by the recipients I was promised containers will be shipped to me 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.

After about a week the supplier told me to reverse the payment and pay via Western Union to a different recipient. Payment was acknowledged by the recipient and therefore 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?


Unfortunately, I have bad news for you. You are the victim of a scam.

The company you found in South Africa is a fake. They don't appear to be a registered company, there's no trace of them operating. The only thing they actually possess is a web site but I discovered quite quickly that this was only registered inNovember last year. The physical address they give appears to be just someone's house.

The business about the VAT and what they called the "Refundable Insurance Policy" is also just an excuse to get more money from you. It's the same story with the "storage charges" they mentioned. Just another excuse to steal more money. The bad news is that scammers don't give refunds. I'm very sorry.

Friday, 26 January 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Can I get my money back #1?

I paid Queens and Kings Travel and Tours P8,600 for a trip to Durban over the New Year. On the day we were supposed to leave we went to their offices in the CBD at around 7pm which was the time we were supposed to leave but our trip was cancelled at the last minute when we were supposed to leave due to issues the owner had with his transport. I asked for my refund back so that we take ourselves to Durban

He promised in writing to pay the money by Friday afternoon but come Friday he has been sending me from pillar to post. He has not been taking my calls only texting me that he is still looking for the money. I have given him more than enough time. I am very disappointed. We ended up funding our trip from our savings because we really wanted to go to Durban. All I want is my refund.

Finally he sent me P4,000 after I sent his employees the letter that I am sending to Tourism. I would really appreciate it if u could help.


You’re ahead of me already! My first suggestion was going to be that you contact the Botswana Tourism Organisation and get their advice and perhaps to register a complaint with them about the company in question but you appear to have done that already.

We also spoke to the manager at the company last week and he assured us that you would get the remainder of your refund before Wednesday last week. However, as we both know, that didn’t happen. He’s let you down badly and he’s done the same to us. I think the time has come to stop trusting him and to get serious.

I suggest that you write him a letter saying that he has breached the terms of your agreement and broken the promise he made in the letter he wrote to you promising to refund you. Tell him that you will take legal action against the company if he doesn’t pay you within 24 hours. Then, if he doesn’t, go to the Small Claims Court and get an order against him for the amount he still owes you. And then write another letter to BTO!

Update: We contacted Queens and Kings Travel and Tours and gave them several opportunities to respond and despite them saying that they would give us some feedback they failed to do so. I think that tells you something about their approach to customer care, don’t you?

Can I get my money back #2?

I need advice. I purchased building material from a major store on Monday with a promise for delivery in 2 to 3 working days. I have called several times to request they deliver and every day is a promise of tomorrow. I requested to speak to the deliveries managers to no avail, same story with the general manager. I have engaged workers who are now getting restless and frankly I am very worried about this. Would I be within my rights to go to the store and request they refund the money spent since it appears they have no intention of making delivery. Thank you.


Yes, I think most certainly you WOULD be entitled to cancel the deal and demand a refund. You bought the items with a promise from the store that they would deliver in a certain timescale and they’ve let you down and cost you money employing workers who are idle.

I suggest that you write them a formal letter cancelling the deal and explaining that they have failed to honour their side of the contract you both entered. Make sure you hand the letter to the General Manager him or herself and don’t take No for an answer. Insist that the deal is cancelled. In the letter you should also give them a deadline for refunding you. Remind them in the letter that Section 15 (1) (e) of the Consumer Protection Regulations requires a supplier, when a deal is cancelled, to return any deposits or payments “promptly”.

If you like we can also contact the store to help explain to them what they need to do!

Saturday, 20 January 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

This week The Voice published our press release regarding the Vortex Profits Ponzi scheme.



Consumer Alert: Vortex Profits

Consumer Watchdog would like to alert consumers about Vortex Profits, an apparent Ponzi scheme currently trying to recruit victims in Botswana.

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.

If consumers are in any doubt they should contact Consumer Watchdog for free advice. We can be reached by phone on 3904582, by email at watchdog@bes.bw or by joining our Facebook group, Consumer Watchdog Botswana.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Press Release - Vortex Profits

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

15th January 2018

Consumer Alert: Vortex Profits

Consumer Watchdog would like to alert consumers about Vortex Profits, an apparent Ponzi scheme currently trying to recruit victims in Botswana.

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.

If consumers are in any doubt they should contact Consumer Watchdog for free advice. We can be reached by phone on 3904582, by email at watchdog@bes.bw or by joining our Facebook group, Consumer Watchdog Botswana.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Is it her fault?

I have a friend who is having a hard time. She bought a mini laptop with Higher Purchase and she had been paying monthly and was supposed to have finished her payments by last year December. The problem is she told me yesterday that they called her some time last week telling her they hadn’t received money from her since August of 2017. My friend had gone to the bank to do a stop order for the installments and had for the first three months had issues with the payments going through because she would receive SMS’s notifying her that payments were unsuccessful. So she would call them to find out what the problem was but would be informed that no, the payments were in fact successful, so even after that time she would ignore the SMS prompts. So when they called her last week she asked why they hadn’t called her since August to ask why she wasn’t paying but waited for so many months, and she was informed that they tried calling her once but that they were unable to. The real problem is that she knows the outstanding balance is due and has to be paid either way, but she has a problem with the fact that she also has been informed that she has to pay penalty fees on top of the outstanding balance, and these penalties date back to August 2017. Should she have to pay these penalties when she has made efforts to make sure payments are made and is it upon her to call them every month to make sure that they have drawn their money?


Unfortunately, your friend is in a difficult situation. Although a stop order is a very convenient way to pay instalments like these, you can’t always rely on the bank to make sure it happens correctly. Here’s a secret that you might not know. Banks make mistakes. Quite often. However, whether the bank made a mistake or the store failed to warn your friend that she had fallen behind with her payments, the responsibility for making sure the payments are made remains with her. The stop order is just a convenience offered by the bank and if she checks the small print of her banking agreement, and also probably of the hire purchase agreement, shell see that it’s up to her to make sure payments are made.

I know it sounds incredibly irritating but it’s up to you, me and your friend to check every month that our payments go through. Frustrating, I know, but that’s how it is.

Meanwhile I suggest your friend speaks to the store to agree a plan to pay off the missing instalments. If you like we’ll contact the store to see if they can be a little charitable about the penalties.

Will I make money from AIM Global?

I need your help, Do you know anything about the company called AIM Global? We are struggling out there to try and come up with ways of earning extra cash but not willing to be scammed. Thanks in advance.


AIM Global is a pyramid scheme based in the Philippines. They claim that people joining can earn large amounts of money, simply by marketing the scheme to other potential recruits. One recruiter claimed that by paying P2,543 to join and then by recruiting just two people, each of whom recruited two more people and every month that was repeated, after a year you would have monthly earnings of over P1.6 million. It’s interesting to note that in this claim they don’t even mention whether there’s a product at the heart of their scheme. That’s clearly nonsense and it’s a very good example of a pyramid scheme, where earnings are made exclusively or mainly from the recruitment of other victims rather than the sale of products.

In fact they DO market a product and that’s even worse than the pyramid scheme. They call this “C247” and they say that this single product can treat 100 different medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, cirrhosis, bone fracture, deafness, endometriosis, epilepsy, heart diseases, hypertension, low sperm count, “toxins in the body”, stroke, migraine and even cancer and “immunodeficiency”. These are illegal claims, forbidden by Sections 396-399 of the Penal Code of Botswana. Anyone making such claims is going to be in dep trouble when the authorities hear they’ve been made.


I’ve also seen AIM recruiters claim that this ridiculous C247 product has been approved by the authorities in Botswana, including the Ministry of Health and the Botswana Bureau of Standards. These claims are completely untrue.

I urge you not to waste your time, effort and money joining a pyramid scheme like AIM Global. You’ll lose it all!

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Predictions for 2018

Here are some predictions for 2018 based on our experience of 2017 and the years preceding. I can’t guarantee any of these things will happen, but…

Multi Level Marketing schemes won’t go away

Multi Level Marketing schemes like Amway and Herbalife will continue to do their best to recruit people into their pyramids and when we warn people not to waste their time, effort and money we will be accused of being “haters”, “not wanting people to improve their lives”, and not “understanding passive income”.

Meanwhile the income statements that some countries force them to produce each year will continue to show that only the tiny handful at the top of the pyramid make any money, all at the expense of the multitudes beneath them.

Neither will pyramid schemes

Companies like AIM Global with their ridiculous (and also illegal) C247 product (that they claim can treat 100 diseases) will continue to do their best to recruit people into their bogus businesses. World Ventures will also continue to recruit people with their idea that you must pay to get hotel discounts when you can get those discounts for free elsewhere. Hopefully the forthcoming new consumer protection framework might help us combat them.

Ponzi schemes will continue to flourish

MMM Global has collapsed but there are already rumours that Sergei Mavrodi, its founder (and convicted criminal), is already working on a new Ponzi scam. People will fall for it all over again, even some of the gullible ones who fell for the original MMM scam. Their “serial victim” status will hurt them even more.

Bitcoin will continue to fascinate people

I admit it, it fascinates me. However, the exponential increase in value it experienced in 2017 came to a dramatic halt in late 2017, showing that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, can ever increase that way indefinitely. All bubbles eventually burst. The blockchain technology underpinning Bitcoin is certainly something that will play a part in our future but so will gullibility and greed.

Bitcoin, like any conventional currency, wasn’t “an investment” in 2017 and it won’t be in 2018 either.

People won’t read things

In 2018 lots of people will again fail to read things before they sign them. Whether it’s a banking, hire purchase or tenancy agreement, lots people will just ask “Where do I sign” and put pen to paper. They’ll pay the price later on when they realise they can’t cancel the agreement when they want, they’re burdened with massive penalties for defaulting or they realised they signed a pact with the devil. And it will be way too late because once their signature hit the paper they were committed.

People won’t write things

The opposite will also be true. When they DO want a commitment from someone, maybe a tenancy or when they sell a car or lend money to a friend, they’ll forget to get the agreement, all of it, in writing. When things go wrong, they’ll then find they have nothing wave in front of the courts, the police or Consumer Watchdog. There’ll be no proof that the agreement ever even occurred.

Even if they DO sign an agreement they’ll forget “when a transaction has been reduced into writing, the writing is regarded as the exclusive memorial of the transaction and no evidence may be given to contradict, alter, add or vary its terms” (thanks Judge Dow!). So no verbal agreements after the written one. No “but we later agreed that…” arguments are permitted.

Companies will begin to understand Facebook has changed everything

I’ve spent the last year telling people that Facebook has changed everything. I’m not speaking figuratively and I’m not exaggerating for effect, I genuinely believed that every aspect of everyday life changed in 2017 because of Facebook. That is certainly the case in business. Whether companies like it or not (and almost all of them really hate it), we consumers are now in charge. We decide how we complain, we decide how we celebrate, we decide how we communicate to other people about our experiences. And no company can stop us.

And companies need to know that it’s only going to get worse (for them) in 2018. We live in the Consumer Anarchy Age. We’ll express ourselves however, whenever and wherever we feel like it! And there’s nothing they can do about it.

It’ll be artistic

Every year Consumer Watchdog has a theme. 2015 was Travel, 2016 was Education, 2017 was Health and the theme for 2018 is Art. We’ll be exploring the role art, creativity and performance play in customer service but also in problem solving, consumer education and enjoying life.

And we’ll be asking companies why they can’t make the experience of buying goods and services from them a beautiful one. Why can’t their premises be artistic? Why can’t they lift our spirits rather than quash them?

If we can do it, why can’t they?