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Fair Go: Wednesday August 8

Published: 6:56PM Wednesday August 08, 2012 Source: Fair Go

Charity shocked by Public Trust fees
Gordon Harcourt
Staff at the Rotorua SPCA were over the moon when they heard an elderly couple had left their entire $500,000 estate to the SPCA.
It hasn't quite worked out that way. The money wasn't a lump sum  - it's a memorial trust, providing income "in perpetuity" (forever) to the SPCA.  The trust is administered by the Public Trust.
Rotorua SPCA gets projected income of about $11,000 per year. The Public Trust gets fees of about $11,000 per year. Not fair at all, says the Rotorua SPCA.
The Public Trust says it's acting in a professional and prudent manner.
The SPCA board wanted an investment strategy that wasn't consistent with the long term.
The Public Trust says it must retain a big chunk of income earned each year to preserve the original amount left by the couple.
As for the fees, it says not all go to the Public Trust. Some go to other fund managers and service providers.
It says the fees are in the middle of the market and are regularly checked.
David Blackbourn died last year, leaving his entire estate to the SPCA and Horse Protection League (now part of the SPCA Auckland).   
That came as quite a shock to his two surviving sisters, Peggy and Anna.  
They had given up their inheritance to help their brother. David had a degenerative muscular condition and was ill most of his life. He couldn't work so the money he had was what he had inherited, courtesy of his sisters.
Peggy now has the same condition that crippled her brother.
Anna wrote to the SPCA asking them to consider returning some money for Peggy. She got a very positive letter, but nothing happened.
We've got a happy ending on that one at least, and advice on what to do if you think a will just isn't right.

Online feedback
Phil Vine
Feedback - it's the lifeblood of communities like Trade Me, allowing us to trust in people we don't know. We send people money, or goods, without ever seeing who we're trading with, based purely on their reputation. But we've been hearing worrying things about something called retaliatory feedback - a tit-for-tat way of getting revenge. Dozens of people wrote to us with concerns after it was raised in our internet special in July.
After a Trade Me auction both buyer and seller post feedback: positive, neutral, or negative. Paul was selling a couch for $110. A young woman agreed to buy it, came to collect it, and changed her mind. Paul's feedback was that she was a time waster. In turn she posted that the couch was "covered in stains and looked like pigs had been living on it". Caryn bought a pet carrier. When it turned up it didn't look anything like the pictures, and she gave bad feedback because the seller wasn't communicating with her, and she didn't receive what she ordered. In return, the seller slapped her with negative feedback - which Caryn says is frustrating, and unfair, because it tarnishes her reputation. She says Trade Me didn't want to know.
Trade Me says feedback is key to how they operate. 99% of it is positive. There's a tricky line between feedback that is negative, and feedback that is retaliatory.  They say negative feedback is part and parcel of a healthy market place - even if you think it's unfair. In these cases Trade Me won't arbitrate - but they will mediate. But it's retaliatory when it's not based on the merits of the case, and that's unacceptable. Trade Me says retaliatory feedback is not on the rise, but they've set up a disputes desk to help resolve feedback issues, and they do want to hear from anyone who is unhappy.

Customs charges
Ali Mau
The number of purchases made online by Kiwis has jumped 19 per cent in the space of a year. With more and more of us buying from overseas, Fair Go viewers have been asking about Customs charges - why are some packages stopped at Customs and not released until you've paid duty, GST and sometimes even other charges? We've found they can add up to a significant percentage of your purchase price. Aimee Webster wanted to know why she was being stung for $101 in fees - more than 40% of the cost of the clothing she bought on We took her questions to New Zealand Customs for answers.