FRIDAY, APR. 27: The other day I was in court for those who are alleged to owe someone or a firm money. The courts were jam-packed, so much so, that I wondered if any occupancy restrictions were being broken.
Anyway, the three biggest suitors were: The Bermuda Hospitals Board; the Bermuda Government for payroll taxes; and a cellular phone service provider.
I thought this very interesting because how did the new kid on the block get to be so soon be among the likes of the Bermuda’s hospital and government?
As far as I know, there are many young people whose credit is now at risk because of owing money to the cell company providers in Bermuda.
Wow, what will this do to Bermuda’s lending institutions when half of their potential clientele has bad credit?
Sad, especially since it’s all because of talk … talk is no longer cheap!
It is my honest opinion that the lack of responsible advertising has caused this mess.
Many people do not know that the shortest cellular phone contract in Bermuda is two years.
Therefore, when you have the cell companies advertising and offering bigger and better deals, naturally, people want to take advantage of the promotions, hence they drop their current contract to sign up for the bigger, better deal.
They don’t realize they are locked in for whatever is the duration of their current provider’s contract — hence they find themselves at one of the debt collection agencies with 33 per cent or more added on to their bill, which subsequently leads to them to have bad credit.
This is bad and Islam finds it unfair. If someone is already in debt why add such a high percentage — it just adds insult to injury.
The Quran says: O believers! Do not live on usury that is compounded over and over again. Have fear of Allah so that ye may prosper (3:130).
Many of the customers don’t realize that if they aren’t using their service or their phone, many people have lost phones.
In purchasing another — trying the bigger, better deal currently running — they still have to honour the contract and pay until its expiry.
I feel that it is the responsibility of the service providers to advertise just as they promote the bigger and better deal.
They need to educate the people up front and be crystal clear on the consequences of not honouring their minimum two year contract.
I also feel that the Government, I believe the Department of E-Commerce, needs to clamp down on the providers to ensure that proper awareness of the pros and cons is being done — because it is my opinion, and I can almost say with a surety, this is not the current case.
You see someone has to be responsible, as responsibility is accountability.
Those who are accountable have to be responsible. Don’t make them aware of the pitfalls of the contract once they have been summoned to court.
For the people to be responsible they must be informed by those who are promoting.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed. The people have a right to know what they are getting into, and then and only can they be fully accountable for their actions.
This cellphone business of these long contracts and contract un-awareness has got to stop; it has spun out of control. Information is key to success.
The Quran, the Book of Guidance for Muslims, always starts off with “Say”, which means to tell the people.
It is only right that the people be informed of all things, good and bad, so that an informed choice could be made for and with all parties concerned.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If anyone would like Allah to save him from the hardships of the Day of Resurrection, he should give more time to his debtor who is short of money, or remit his debt altogether” (reported by Muslim).
Debt is one of the worst things a person can have as a burden.
In fact, even upon death, the debt of a person does not end and it is up to the family to pay it off.
Therefore, debt should be avoided at all times. But when debt is spun upon one because of one not being adequately informed, then this is unfair, unjust and unethical, and can only lead to ruination.
There is a hadith that states: “The soul of a believer is held hostage by his debt in his grave until it is paid off” (reported by Tirmidhi). O ye who believe! Fear Allah, and give up what remains of your demand for interest, if you are indeed believers.
If you do not, take notice of war from Allah and his Messenger. But if ye turn back, ye shall have your capital sums: deal not unjustly and ye shall not be dealt with unjustly (2:278-279).