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READ BETWEEN THE LINES

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Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

CONSUME'S VOICE

I am writing to enquire about the problem that I have with Hollywood Household Supplies. I purchased a pressure cooker from them amounting to total of P3665.20 in October 2009 which I was to pay within two years, but due to some cash constraint I encountered some payment problem which lead to arrears of which I communicated to them.

In May 2010 I deposited P200 in their account and I was surprised to get a call from some Debt Collectors saying I have been handed over to them.  Now my question is; when is someone supposed to be handed over to debt collectors, because I have been thinking that someone can only be handed over at the end of contract and failing to settle amount owed? Or when am in arrears I can still be handed over?
I need your assistance regarding this matter, because these people are saying I have to settle in six months, while I know that I still have some months to go to pay up and my contract with Hollywood is not yet over.
I’m sorry but you have completely misunderstood your agreement with the store.  They are perfectly within their rights to hand you over to a debt collector whenever you fail to honour your agreement with them.  There is absolutely no requirement for them to wait for two years before you pay them, that’s would be completely unreasonable.  Would you really think it’s reasonable for someone who has lent you money to wait that long?  So why should a store wait?

I suggest that you go back and read the credit agreement you signed with the store.  In that agreement somewhere will be a description of your obligations and it will certainly say that you have to repay your debt according to the agreed schedule.
In fact I suspect that the store have been very reasonable in giving you 6 months to settle the debt, they could have demanded it all in one payment.
Finally, the only criticism I can make of this store the is VAST cost of the pressure cooker you bought.  That’s an outrageous price.  Either that or the store is charging you a staggering amount of money for the privilege of buying it on credit.

Stay clear of un-sourced trips

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2
I received an email from the “Civil concept foundation” inviting me to a conference on “Human trafficking and spread of HIV” in Seattle in the USA and in Portsmouth in the UK.  Do you think it’s legitimate or is it a scam?

It’s a scam.  There are too many clues for this to be genuine.
Firstly, I don’t understand why a conference would be at two locations so far apart.  It’s just not believable.  Then there’s the usual scam warning: poor English.  The authors of the email seem not to have a very good command of English, certainly not as good as you’d expect from people organising a conference in two English-speaking countries.  The first sentence of the email is a good example:
“We at Civil concept foundation sends our warn greetings to our entire members worldwide.”

The next most obvious clue is the usual one.  Free email addresses.  You’d think that an organisation prestigious enough to host international conferences would be able to afford it’s own email addresses, wouldn’t you?  In fact the invitation came from a free Hotmail address and they ask you to reply to a free Yahoo address hosted in Hong Kong.  This obviously isn’t a real organisation.
And why would a conference as prestigious as they make this one out to be invite total strangers by email?  Where are the advertisements in the newspapers and on the web sites of legitimate organisations in this field?
Finally, you only have to do a quick Google search for “Civil Concept Foundation” to find several web pages reporting on the scam.

As it happens we’ve seen this scam several times before.  Not with these exact details but the same basic idea.  What happens is that after the usual exchange of emails, the scammers, pretending to be conference organisers, announce that although everything else in the conference is free, YOU have to pay for one of the hotel stays up front.  Of course, nobody in the world really has to pay for hotels before they’ve arrived, it’s just not how hotels operate but by that stage you’ve been seduced by the scammers.  Needless to say they’ll ask you to pay, not with your credit card or directly to the hotel but via Western Union, the hallmark of all scammers.

Please don’t even consider replying to this email.  Even sending them a rude message telling them to leave you alone will only confirm to the scammers that your email address is real.  You might just end up with more scammers bothering you.

Western Union
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Western Union.  However, although Western Union are not themselves criminals their service is one that is used a great deal BY criminals.
Here’s a simple rule I think you should adopt when someone asks you to send them money using Western Union.  Consider using Western Union to send money to people to whom you are related, with whom you would trust your children or to whom you would happily lend money but ONLY if they don’t have a bank account you can send the money to instead.

For every other situation, you should NOT use them.

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