Monday, February 27, 2012

Livifem resurrected

Dear Livifem Ladies,
        Yippee it looks as though your hot flushes, headaches and general feeling of being unwell should be over soon.
        You can get back on the pill.
       This hormone replacement is expected to be in South African pharmacies again within the next few weeks. That’s what Hein Garbers the Marketing Manager of Merck Sharp & Dohm (MSD), the new distributor, has just told me.
         Hopefully his next few weeks won’t extend into months.

Latest: It's back in big pharmacies and will be in small ones shortly.
         As you know Livifem disappeared without warning, virtually overnight almost six months ago. This caused panic among thousands of women who had been on it for years.
They rightly castigated the departing supplier Adcock Ingram on the internet. 
Did anybody care? What’s all the fuss, it’s only a pill my dear.
Women, like my wife Gayle, were expected to sweat it out while Adcock put out a statement that explained nothing to the average sufferer.
Adcock is headed by Dr Jonathan Louw, who should know better than most people how devastating it can be for someone if the medication they have been on for ages is suddenly withdrawn.
         But that didn’t stop his company dashing your hopes by saying that it was not in a position to supply a number of women’s health products including Livifem until further notice.
        A great comfort that was.
         It went on to tell you that this was due to the fact that aspects relating to product-related documentation had to be updated to comply with regulatory global requirements. What did that pompous wording mean to the average person? 
         In a letter to The Star newspaper Susan Mynhardt summed up my sentiments perfectly when she described this as exceptionally bad management and extremely poor customer service.
        It was a shocker. And to make matter’s worse Adcock tried to make out that it cared about the health of all you women when it came out with this pathetic, badly worded statement, The decision has been made with due consideration of the medical needs of Livifem, and all the other affected women’s health products.
         It seems the whole debacle came about because MSD, a worldwide pharmaceutical giant took over the distribution of Livifem in South Africa from Adcock, the firm that had done it for as long as anybody could remember.
         Adcock has been operating in South Africa for 120 years; is quoted on the Stock Exchange and accounts for 10% of the private pharmaceutical industry.
         So you would have thought that somewhere in the ranks of these two firms there would have been at least one person capable of ensuring that the change over went smoothly without compromising the health of the many women who had come to regard it as a lifesaver.
         The change involved mundane things like getting updated inserts approved by the SA Medicines Control Council. Did nobody know that the process could be expected to take some months to complete?
         You would have thought that the simple remedy would have been to give doctors and pharmacies a six month warning of the impending change so that their patients could stock up with the drug. Would that have been too logical?
         These two ponderous leviathans seem to have forgotten that patients are the people who keep them in business. Had they been a doctor their bedside manner would have decimated the practice.
        But just because they sell a product that people get hooked on they mustn’t think they can go on treating patients with the kind of indifference displayed in this case. That’s a prescription for getting a taste of their own medicine don’t you think ladies?
         Anyway for Gayle’s sake and all you other women, who have had such a rough time recently, I hope you get better treatment soon and that Livifem finally does materialise.
         If these drug companies give you any more trouble ladies, give them big stick on Twitter, Facebook etc, because that’s the best way to get them to treat you right. Then of course you could also make sure that wherever possible you are not taking anything that they produce.
         Best wishes,
         Jon, a Consumer Watchdog whose bite is worst than his bark.
"Fair comment... now the pressure is on not to disappoint. Enjoyed the blog. Added it to favourites." Andrew Nicolson MSD's Primary Care Marketing Manager.
 Buy my book 'Where have all the children gone?' on  It's a thriller with an underlying love story that defied generations of Afrikaner/ English prejudice.        

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Manna from Heaven - Wealthdesign's 30% interest

Dear Mike Brown Chief Executive of Nedbank,
         As a well known bank watcher I thought I would tip you off about something that could save your bank a fortune in advertising costs. And as your bank is one of the largest in South Africa’s this could mean a great deal of money.
         I have just seen your bank’s half page advert in the Sunday Times in your green corporate colours. Ads like this in a paper with some 3-million readers don’t come cheap.
So why waste the money if you are going to be shown up in the same paper?
         What I’m talking about is the Nedbank JustInvest Deposit account that you were bragging about. You told the paper’s readers that this pays A great rate of up 5.25% pa. 
       But on the front of that very same edition there was another offer that made your measly 5.25% interest appear to be such insignificant chicken feed as to not be worth considering.
         I don’t know if you are aware of it, but if this takes off your bank and all the other recognised ones as well as our Government’s Retail Bonds might as well shut up shop because they will not be able to compete.
So when you are next at the club can you pass this on to your fellow bankers at First National, Absa, Standard and any others I haven’t thought of? 
         And if you have any gold or diamond mining buddies like the Oppenheimers tell them to start filling in the holes because those too will be obsolete.
         The Sunday Times readers were told they could enjoy a lifestyle not normally associated with the ownership of a traditional business venture or franchise.
        Here’s the bonanza that you won’t get anywhere else in the world.
        A crowd calling themselves Wealthdesign are offering 30% fixed returns on 1st R1m & 19% on further capital. The business is described as a low risk, effortless one in the financial industry. But on it’s website it is said to be essentially risk free. So take your pick.
The registration fee for this kind of investment is R50 000.
        If you don’t happen to have such big bucks there is the Cambist scheme which offers a 24% annual return on amounts of R1 000 or more.

Talk about manna from Heaven.

         Best of all you don’t need premises, equipment, staff, office hours, experience, skills or marketing to cash in. 
         It’s too unbelievable for words.
         If only the Governments of Greece, Italy, Spain etc would realise that they don’t have to go begging for bail outs. With interest rates in Europe at nearly nothing all they have to do is put all their country’s money in South Africa and abracadabra their financial woes will be solved. 
         The Wealthdesign’s magic comes under Oneserv, a division of the Pretoria based Onesys Group that was established 18 years ago and now consists of 11 companies.
Oneserv we are told was established to take advantage of the lucrative profits being made in the R60-billion a year South African short term loan market.
         SA Multiloan another company in the group has 175 short term loan outlets with a turnover of more than R200-million a month. And the Group needs investors because it hasn’t got enough of its own money to keep up with the demand.
       They tell us that the people’s African National Congress Government has allowed credit providers to charge between 30% and 60% on short term unsecured loans.
So the less fortunate are being screwed into the ground for the benefit of the rich.
        Oh! I forgot that’s how our tried and trusted capitalism works.
         In the happy picture is Amelda Coombe, an Oneserv credit provider who claims, From the comfort of my own home I earn a guaranteed 30% per annum on capital invested in my business.
         It didn’t matter that she had no financial knowledge because she was given all the necessary financial training.
         As a financial ignoramus perhaps you can answer this for me Mike?  If a card castle is founded on people in the lower income groups, aren’t they more likely to lose their jobs in an economic downturn than those higher up the ladder?
If this is the case can anybody legitimate say that money put into the building of such a castle is risk free?  And if there is no security for the loans isn’t  this risky with a capital R?
         I’m just asking.
         My last question is this. If this short term loan business makes so much money why isn’t your bank in it so that you can offer everybody 30% instead of that ridiculously low 5.25%?
         Anyway Mike I’m sure you’ll appreciate that I’m only trying to help because the last thing we want is to have our entire banking system struggling to survive because nobody wants to give it any money.
         Of course the worst case scenario would be if there was no money to pay the huge performance bonuses you and the rest of the banking top brass get year after year, regardless of whether or not there has been any performance.
         Yours sincerely,
         Jon, who is too poor to qualify even for a short term loan. 

Buy my book ‘Where have all the children gone?’ on Amazon Kindle  It’s a thriller with an underlying love story that defied generations of Afikaner/English prejudice.      

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Woolworths - the plus and the minus

Dear Consumers,
         Every business makes mistakes, but the real test is how they handle them. 

Well done Woolworths
        Woolworths came up trumps after initially refusing to give a cash refund for a pair of shorts that was returned to the Long Beach Mall branch in Cape Town.
It had very distinctive buttons on the pockets that were more decorative than functional and one came off after just two months.
         The branch issued a R275 gift card, but after an email to Chief Executive Ian Moir, Anita Scott the Customer Manager (my apologies for not using her full title but that would take up a couple of paragraphs) took over.
        She apologised for the poor quality of the shorts and for the store not refunding correctly.
       We always refund the customer in the manner in which they have purchased, within the given time period, which is printed on our slips. If our customers do not have a till slip we would often refund using our gift card, however if the return is due to poor quality we would refund the customer in the manner in which they say they paid. In this case it should have been cash.
        She added that she had spoken to the store manager Silvia Bezuidenhout to ensure the staff followed this policy and that the manager would arrange for the required refund.
         She said their refund policy was very much in line with the Consumer Act.  I should hope so. But is it?
         Woolworths says it will exchange or refund any item returned in a saleable condition with a till slip within 60 days of purchase.
What’s meant by a saleable condition? If I bought something, wore it for a few weeks and then washed and ironed it would it qualify as saleable? And would somebody else be happy to buy it then?
        The group’s policy goes on to say that if you do not have a slip we will exchange your purchase at the current system price.
        So it’s clearly better not to have a slip.
        Unless I got it wrong the Act says that in stores buyers are entitled to a refund for faulty goods within six months of the date of purchase, not two months as stipulated in the Woolworths Decree.

Of course only the South African Government could come up with such a ridiculous law. It will enable Clever Dicks to go on getting something replaced new every six months forever.

           And what’s more the buyer can decide whether to accept cash; a replacement or a repair.
There doesn’t seem to be any provision for handing out Woolworths like gift cards, which of course ensures that the money spent returns to the shop.
         Jon, the Consumer Watchdog with a strong sense of smell. 
Buy my book ‘Where have all the children gone’ on   It’s a thriller with an underlying love story that defied generations of Afrikaner/English prejudice.       

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Power corrupts in millionaires' paradise

Dear Helen Zille leader of the Democratic Alliance,
         As the leader of South Africa’s main opposition party you and your colleagues are always taking pot shots at our African National Congress Government for corruption and a host of other wrong doings.
         But if you are going to be a policewoman you should make sure that your own party’s record is perfectly clean and if there are lapses you should personally step in to put them right.
       The question is: Are you going to do that in Plettenberg Bay?
As you know that’s where so many of our country’s rich and famous have their seaside homes. And most of them are undoubtedly DA supporters.
         But that’s no excuse for turning a blind eye to what the Sunday Times has just revealed.
        It was quite shocking to see how Plett’s Bitou Municipality, which your party now controls after it had been run by the ANC for 16 years, is doing exactly the same dubious kind of thing that the ANC has been up to for years.
       Power corrupts they say and this is ringing ominously true at Plett.
         The paper told us that after the DA took over Bitou last year it found the R10-million IT system didn’t work. A common occurrence in ANC run government organisations.
         So the DA sacked the supplier Lefatshe Technolgies. This started another jobs-for-pals scandal so typical of our administrations all over the country.
         Big hearted billionaire Jeremy Ord came to the rescue of the beleaguered town where he has a home. He just happened to be Chairman of Dimension Data, a world wide IT company that was bought last year by Japan’s NTT for R22-billion.
         He undertook to get his firm to evaluate the council’s IT at no cost, although you would have thought this would have been done before the existing supplier was given notice.
         The DA was so delighted with Ord’s free assessment that in December last year it decided to bypass normal tender procedures and give Ord’s company a R4.3-million short-term assignment to sort out the mess.
         Bitou’s manager Terry Giliomee justified this by saying they got no other quotations because there was not enough time. Ha! Ha! Ha!
         Council’s letters showed that as far back as August last year Lefatshe had been told its contract would end on December 31. Not enough time. Ha! Ha! Ha!
         It looks as though the ANC has been gleefully feeding the paper the dirt. They didn’t have to look far. One of your councillors Johann Brummer gave them just the ammunition they needed.
         In a December email to Bitou officials about a problem at Plett’s poshest restaurant he wrote: Remember that Lookout is a Plett icon and hang out for some very powerful people – like Jeremy Ord and others who have supported us generously in the past.
         That sent your members scrambling to find a reasonably explanation for this political gaffe. One of them said, We don’t confirm who our donors are. Nobody told Brummer about that. Ha! Ha! Ha!
And Ord was not saying anything either. Ha!  Ha! Ha!
         Everybody knows that No comment means YES.
       Please Helen don’t let the DA go the way of the ANC. There’s enough skulduggery in Government already without your party starting.
         Jon, a concerned tax payer and specialist IT illiterate looking for a Government job, who won’t say which party he donates to for fear of victimisation. 

P.S. Do you mind if I send thanks from the Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman to Rob Rose and Bobby Jordan for a very comprehensive report.  I presume they won’t tell you which party they support.

Read my book 'Where have all the children gone' on  It's a thriller with an underlying love story that defied generations of prejudice.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Dear South African Sex Maniacs,
        Our African National Congress (ANC) is clearly your party. Tragically it’s so full of pricks that it can’t even tell the difference between a condom and a sieve. In spite of this it has been running South Africa for the past 18 years.
         And even with the best sexologist advisers in the land it still doesn’t understand what the withdrawal method means. It seems to think that if you withdraw a rubber full of holes you’ll be alright.
         No wonder we have one of the highest incidences of HIV and Aids in the world.
         As part of its R100-million centenary bash the ANC held an orgy in Bloemfontein, which has some historical significance or other for it.
         Its BIG KNOBS felt duty bound to make a show of trying to protect their followers from themselves. So they distributed 1.35-million French letters (sorry they were probably Xhosa or Zulu ones) to hotels, guesthouses, bars and dispensers in the bushes, at the tax-payers expense.
         Talk about over kill. Even their randy supporters wouldn’t have been able to rise to their high expectations. Reports put the number who attended at 100 000. So that makes 135 condoms per man, woman and child for each day of the four day shindig.
        Why they bothered I don’t know as our President Jacob Zuma had already set the country’s sexual standard by becoming notorious for not using a condom.
         Even on this special occasion the ANC failed to heed the unmentionable parts of its history.
         In its wisdom it decided that as the copulating masses were spraying Aids all over the place because they didn’t have the money to take any precautions the Government would hand out free balloons just like at a kid’s party.
         There were 300 - million distributed in 2003. I’m not sure how; they might have been dropped out of planes. But as the colour was not fashionable enough the then Minister of Health Manto Tshabala-Msimang, who made her name by promoting beetroot as a cure for Aids, decided to relaunch the Government’s brand a year later under the catchy name of  Choice.  
         She seemed baffled as to why people thought the Government ones were inferior to the commercial rubbers.
         I agree that’s hard to understand especially after 20-million punctured ones were withdrawn in 2007. The State’s common bugbear fraud had resulted in the Bureau of Standards passing this lot as perfect.
         In any case they didn’t have enough staff at the Bureau to try out that many.
         Unfazed our Manto told a 2008 Condom Week gathering that since the 2007 debacle all condoms had been subjected to rigorous testing.
         But what’s that saying? Employ pricks and you get holes.
         And that’s exactly what the bonkers, some of whom were HIV positive, discovered at the Bloemfontein celebrations.
         As usual the Government came up with its tried and tested answer by withdrawing the lot. But if this claim is true it must have collected used ones as well.
         So, rather than preventing Aids, the ANC’s grand scheme of free condoms for all is actually spreading it.
It seems the Pope was right when he said condoms were not the answer to the Aids epidemic.
But perhaps the ANC Government’s top secret plan is to breed a lot more party faithful, even if they are Aids ravaged, so its leaders can go on screwing the country for years to come.
         Is there any point in having a Bureau of Standards that contains just as many pricks as the Government? Rubber has never been its area of expertise.  Long before the ANC came to power its stamp of approval appeared on faulty retreaded tyres.
        So if you want to endanger the lives of people in a big way get the Bureau to do the recommending.
         The Government says: You have a Choice. But when it comes to your sexual well being, keep well away from any of its holey schemes.
         Yours faithfully,
         Jon, a former Condom factory tester, who was fired for taking quality too seriously.