The latest mobile phones, whether an Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, are expensive. Therefore, any offer, discount or the common get-one-free scheme excites people.
Unfortunately, most of the time, these offers turn out to be too good to be true. In a recent case, three people are trying to get back their money, a sum of about Nu 122,850. The problem is they are not sure from where.
The three, all in the same family, were convinced by an advertisement that appeared in the inflight magazine of the national airline. They ordered the phones and paid money through a friend based abroad.
It turned out to be scam. The buyers rightly approached Drukair and Bhutan Observer, after they were told that the latter, a private company, published the magazine. The claim filed by the buyers is legitimate. Either Drukair or Bhutan Observer should assume responsibility if the advertisement was a scam. Like they claimed, the inflight magazine is a popular publication, and the advertisement they carry is to lure customers, whether it is about resorts or consumer products. The argument that there is a disclaimer doesn’t hold water. They should have verified before they decided to publish it.
To be fair, the management of Bhutan Observer has initiated an investigation. It may be a painful experience for the publishers of the magazine, but accepting responsibility and being transparent could gain the public confidence back. The Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority has rightly decided to take up the case, even when not informed about the incident.
The recent incident could be a one-time unfortunate incident resulting from ignorance. But this is not the first time that advertisements in publications in the local media have landed Bhutanese in trouble. The education ministry now approves advertisements of schools and universities before they are published in the media, to ensure that Bhutanese are not cheated. In the rush for profits, irresponsible media could land our people into trouble. Media as advertisers has a crucial role in giving the right information.
Meanwhile, call it consumerism or the ills of the internet, it is not rare that Bhutanese fall easy victims to scammers. In the past, we have had people, who lost huge amount of money to online scammers. The internet has made it easier to lure gullible Bhutanese to part with their hard earned money.
We have scammers in Nigeria writing to Bhutanese to help them transfer millions of dollars, or other scammers inviting us to attend seminars and conferences organised by UN agencies. Then there are others, who hack our e-mail accounts and write convincing letters asking for help because they have lost their passport or were robbed. Some of us have fallen victims to such scams.
There is a good amount of awareness after the Royal Bhutan Police warned people of such scammers. But the scammers are always one step ahead. The popular Facebook is a sea of scams, where Bhutanese can be drowned. There are offers that asks users to “like, share and win”. Some are very convincing.
The risk is bigger because there are more people, including children, on Facebook and not many are aware of the dangers lurking behind the screen.