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Fair Go: Wednesday July 25

Published: 5:49PM Wednesday July 25, 2012 Source: Fair Go

Jockeying for position
Phil Vine
Bruce Wileman was facing the same problem encountered all over the world by owners of the early Toyota Hybrids. The battery runs out before the car. And a replacement costs more than the car is worth. He went to The Battery Clinic in South Auckland. They told him a reconditioned battery in conjunction with their invention, "The Power Jockey" would make Bruce's Prius better than new. All for a fifth of the cost of a replacement battery from Toyota. Unfortunately the car kept breaking down - including the day Bruce's wife went into labour. Bruce took it back ten times. Eventually he sought a second opinion from an electrical engineer. When he took the battery apart he discovered multiple safety issues including corrosion and compromised insulation. He called it a death-trap. Professor John Boys from Auckland University explained that if the safety mechanisms are compromised and there is a short circuit in these batteries, it could lead to an explosion. Patrick Phan. manager of The Battery Clinic, admitted some mistakes had been made with the battery and they have improved their process since then. Mr Phan has apologised and given Bruce his money back. Toyota is not endorsing the Power Jockey. The company strongly advises against the installation of any ancillary devices as they may interfere with the safety systems.

Burial plot ownership
Hannah Wallis
Since 1948 the O'Carroll family have buried two sisters and their Dad in the family plot at Waikumete Cemetery, West Auckland. When they wanted to add their Mum's ashes in May, the Cemetery had no record of the plot having been paid for, and said the family needed to purchase it for $1200 if they wanted to use it. The O'Carrolls said after 60 years and three burials, the later erection of a headstone, and the finding of a 1948 receipt for funeral costs including interment fee - that should be proof enough they owned the plot. The Cemetery staff at first disagreed, but now Auckland Council, which runs the Cemetery, has agreed with the family and apologised for the way Cemetery and Council have handled the matter.
They have provided the family with a Certificate for Right of Interment, which allows them use of the burial plot. Council says any other family in the same situation will from now on have the same entitlement.

If you have a family plot, there are several things you should find out well before you want to use it:
Is there a Certificate for Right of Interment? Check how many burials that allows, and within what time frame. There is usually a Cemetery charge if you want to dig in ashes, as this may need to be supervised.
The person named on the Certificate is also the person who can decide which family member can be interred in the plot . Many cemeteries no longer allow "ownership" of plots, but have leases instead, usually 60 years - this change was made in the 1960s so, worth keeping in mind that many of these leases will expire at the end of this decade.
You may want to find out what the re-lease cost would be.
Cemeteries do keep records of which funeral company conducted a funeral, and some funeral companies records go right back to the 1800s.

A zinger from Ziinga
Lisa Glass advertises an array of tempting goods for sale.. mostly high-end electronics. This type of site is known internationally as a 'penny auction' because each bid increases the price by just 2 cents. Combined with incredibly low starting prices, it makes the deals very attractive to bargain hunters.
The catch is that you need to purchase bids with a credit card, and signing up for membership ties you into a minimum three month contract at around $120 a month. Dozens of people have contacted us about this site complaining that the membership fee isn't displayed prominently enough, and the Terms and Conditions are confusing or misleading.
 If a member tries to break the contract they will be hit with a cancellation fee of $50 or more, and has threatened fraud prosecution against members who cancel their cards and refuse to pay.

When we contacted it said the details are all fully-laid out on its website, and the company is legally entitled to draw down on the credit cards of members once they've signed up. says it's satisfied with the Terms and Conditions and won't be changing them, and states that they intend holding all members to the contract they signed up to.

Our complainants also questioned the auction process - saying it appears they are never won. We've asked for an example of a happy customer in New Zealand who has actually received one of these bargain gadgets and we are still waiting. The company does however point to its website which features numerous examples of 'auction winners'.

There's very little that authorities in New Zealand can do to stop 'penny auction' companies. They're based offshore with no office or representative in this country, which effectively puts them out of reach of organisations like the Commerce Commission ('s phone number actually starts with a -64- prefix which has led some people to assume they are local, but  the calls are patched through to the Philippines and you'll end up paying for a toll call).

Advice From The Banking Ombudsman
If you consider you have been ripped off or misled: 
* Ring your bank as soon as you suspect you become aware of the charge
* Seek a chargeback
* Cancel your card.

But note, this may not be the end of it.
* Cancelling your card may not necessarily prevent further fees being charged to your account. In the Ziinga situation, for example, you will have authorised payments in advance.
* You may need to show evidence that you have attempted to cancel the contract with the supplier.

If you think the service you've signed up to may be a scam, you should let the bank know about this. Banks won't generally undertake to repay people who have been caught out, but they will usually help. They can, for example, attempt a chargeback on your behalf. Ultimately, however, it is the credit card companies that decide whether they will accept the chargeback.

Banks can also report potential scams or misuse of credit cards to the credit card companies. It is then up to the credit card companies to determine what action to take.

Banks will also generally cancel your card if you ask them to. But you will still have to pay any outstanding balances.