Dear Consumer’s Voice
I have subscribed to a funeral service provider called Lesedi funeral parlour and I am willing to terminate their service with them. I have written them a letter asking them to terminate the contract and refund me. I joined them in September 2009, so in reply by phone anyway, they told me that they can terminate the contract but cannot refund me my previous instalments and they referred me to the contract I signed but I cannot see any clause on the contract back page that disqualifies me from being refunded. So I therefore would like you to look at the contract attached and see whether I cannot be refunded.

CV: I think you’ve misunderstood what a funeral package is. It’s an insurance scheme. Every month you paid them a small amount and in the event of a specific disaster happening (your death) they would have paid you a large amount of money, in this case towards your funeral costs.

You are, of course, entitled to walk away from this scheme at any time but that doesn’t entitle you to get all those earlier premiums refunded.  Let me just check. You didn’t die, did you? You might not feel that you received a benefit but you actually did.  If you had died during the time you were covered your family would have received a payment. It’s not their fault that you didn’t die.

I don’t think it’s fair to go back to them and apologise for not dying and demand your payment back. For all the time they covered you they offered you a potential benefit in case you died. Are you sorry you didn’t?
Also, one final thing. Did you not see on the brochure where it said: “schemes are non-refundable”?

The Diversity Visa scam.
A number of readers have contacted us in the last few weeks regarding an email about the US “Diversity Visa” program. They normally start like this:

“Congratulations, you’ve won !
Dear [xxx],
Congratulations! You are among those randomly selected and registered for further consideration in the diversity immigrant program. Selection guarantees that you will receive a United States Permanent Resident Card (also known as Green Card or Diversity Visa).”
There is actually a genuine US Government “Diversity Visa” scheme but the people sending these emails have nothing to do with that. They are operating a scam that exploits this scheme to make some money.

Their email typically offers you an unbelievable amount of free accommodation, health care, education and a job. And guess what? They want about US$800, which they want to be paid via Western Union. Of course this seems too good to be true and that’s because it IS too good to be true. It’s a scam.
I’ll post some links to official US State Department web sites that describe the scam on our blog but whatever you do, please don’t respond to them and certainly don’t send them any money. You’ll never see it again.

Someone fell for a scam. We heard from a reader this week who had been completely suckered by an advance fee scam. In return for an offer of a job by the United Nations all he had to do was pay more than $2,000 in advance for a hotel stay. Unfortunately he learned the hard way that nobody pays for hotel stay in advance.

He asked us: “Is there any way of me recovering my money?” The sad news is no, there isn’t. Scammers don’t offer refunds.

Levi's sneakers on display

Good news
Readers may recall that a couple of weeks ago we reported on a problem a reader had with some Levi’s casual shoes he bought at a store in Francistown. Unfortunately very shortly after buying them the shoes started disintegrating. When he contacted the store he alleges that they told him that he shouldn’t have gone dancing in them and that in order for the store to consider a replacement or refund the shoes would need to be sent away to South Africa for inspection.

The store management were rather angry that we reported on this issue and we offered them a full right of reply. They used the opportunity to describe their returns policy, which included this:

“We have displayed our company return policy on cash sale purchase at the main counter in every shop. Customers must read this policy before they decide to buy anything in the shop. If they are not happy with the policy they should not buy.”
Fair enough. Meanwhile we contacted Levi’s in South Africa and gave them the details of the case. Curiously Levi’s in SA didn’t need the shoes shipped to them for inspection. They just asked that the customer take a picture or two on his cellphone of the damage and email it over to them. Within 24 hours they were in touch asking for his address and shoe size. They want to send him an entirely free pair of shoes from their new range in compensation.

That’s how it’s meant to be. A big brand like Levi’s take enormous pride in the merchandise. When there’s a problem they are willing to give the customer the benefit of the doubt and do the decent thing.
And there’s a lesson here. If you don’t get a good enough response from the store, then escalate your problem a level higher!

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