ECR Consumerwatch

Wendy Knowler is arguably South Africa’s most experienced consumer journalist. She’s helped more consumers over her 20 year career in consumer journalism than she could count. But while known as a champion of consumer rights, Wendy is also known and respected by corporates for her fair, accurate and balanced reporting. Want to be a more sussed consumer or corporate? Listen to Wendy's episodes here.

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Wendy Knowler delves into why the cruise industry is sinking

It’s been a year of pain for cruiseliner operators and their passengers. Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) announced a few days ago that it has canceled its 2020/2021 cruise season. Voyages for the remainder of the 2020/21 cruise season will be moved to the next local cruise season between November 2021 and April 2022, with embarkation from both Durban and Cape Town. With this in mind, Wendy Knowler discusses the future of the industry.

Car Payments: Are you keeping track? Wendy Knowler weighs in

Tracking contracts are easy to get into but harder to get out of. It may seem like a good idea to sign a three-year tracking contract for your car and avoid the upfront payment of the tracking device itself, but if you sell the car within three years or you can no longer afford the monthly payment, things can turn bad pretty fast.
The contract might seem like the best option, but it really isn’t. One individual who reached out to Wendy Knowler shares the tragic story of how her contract has led to her facing legal action.

Proudly Durban company, PayJustNow, is here to help you with your credit dilemma!

You need credit to get credit but you don't want credit, at the end of the day the credit cycle can be confusing and difficult to navigate, but Wendy Knowler is here to help! Wendy says that this is the issue she is contacted about the most.
For example, she recently received an email from a mom whose daughter has returned to SA from a 10-year-stint in the US. Now she’s battling to get credit because of her lack of credit activity in SA all those years. Take a listen as Wendy shares her advice on this type of situation and tries to dig deeper to help find a possible solution.

Travel operators have made some big changes to their penalty fees!

The travel industry, from its knees, is busy introducing the kind of flexibility into its fares that we would all have loved and appreciated all these years. Last month British Airways (operated by Comair in SA) announced that it has introduced new booking options, giving customers the flexibility to change the dates and destination of a booking without any change fee. Also this week, leisure and hotel management company First Group advised consumers to ask four questions, at least, before confirming travel bookings. Take a listen to find out more

Booked your wedding but now the venue is closing? Wendy has some advice to help you out

The Hilton Durban Hotel closed its doors last month, another COVID-19 casualty, and one of 1000 Hilton hotels to close since the start of the pandemic.

Jan Van Der Putten, who is Hilton’s Vice President Operations - Africa and the Indian Ocean, told me that it’s a temporary closure and that the hotel will re-open, but that doesn’t help those who’ve made bookings for events in the meantime.

People like Tracy, who booked a Hilton Durban function room for her February 13 wedding for 80 guests, and paid the hotel R28,690.

Take a listen to find out what Wendy has to say about this type of situation and where you should start in an attempt to get your hard-earned cash back.

Wendy Knowler on why bigger local instituitions like Greyhound are having to close

While the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying regulations have put businesses like Citiliner, Greyhound, Musica, and more in danger, it was only contributing to escalating the inevitable. People are no longer buying music from stores, bus ticket sales have declined as well as poor regulatory compliance in the bus passenger industry, have led to all these businesses having to re-evaluate their positions. With the final decision probably being quite a heavy one, but ultimately the best possible conclusion.

On this Consumerwatch episode, Wendy Knowler breaks it all down and goes into further detail explaining exactly how, when, where and why these businesses will be shutting their door permanently.

Battling to close your Edgars account? Wendy Knowler says you're not alone

Carol Fourie’s experience in trying to close her Edgars account is shared by many others.

She wrote: "I have had numerous calls from Edgars/RCS agents since last year regarding non-payment on my account. During these calls, I indicated that I wished to close my account after paying the outstanding balance. The procedure, I was told, is for the customer to request a settlement letter which would be emailed. I made several requests telephonically but to date, no email has been sent to me.
Every enquiry is met with the same rehearsed script: “You need to request a settlement letter after which an email will be sent…”
So, many months later, no settlement letter has been sent by Edgars/RCS in spite of continuous efforts on my side and in the meantime, interest and fees on the account are added monthly!
"I have attached some screen grabs from Twitter, in which other customers have voiced similar complaints.
“Something is very wrong, hence I believe this matter is worth investigating.”

Wendy Knowler took up the issue with Regan Adams, CEO of the company RCS, which handles Edgars’ accounts. Listen to the podcast to find out the outcome.

Wendy Knowler pays tribute to Durban man who exposed the cost of cars' spare parts

Malcolm Kinsey, a legend in South African motoring circles, and the man behind the Kinsey Report which exposed car parts prices for the past 30 years and kept the manufacturers in check, died last week.
Wendy took a long hard look at his last Report - his 30th! - released exactly three months ago - to find the most ridiculously expensive parts (compared with their competitors) and ask one of the manufacturers if they’ve adjusted their out-of-whack prices since the release of the report.
He and his wife Jill usually collect prices - directly from dealerships in the greater Durban area, to simulate the consumer experience - in May/June but last year that was the height of restricted travel and social distancing with many dealerships on light duty. So they delayed the massive job until September.
His approach was slightly different, too - along with personal visits to dealerships, he approached a few manufacturers to supply their retail prices, including VAT – which he then randomly checked at dealerships.

Skyrocketing ginger prices & special tenant rights

In this, the first Consumerwatch feature of 2021, Wendy Knowler reveals why the price of ginger has skyrocketed, and why the government’s Disaster Management Act regulation preventing landlords from cutting off electricity to tenants who are in arrears is, in reality, hollow protection.

Students' safety compromised and trip cancellations - Wendy Knowler investigates

It’s Christmas time and we’re experiencing a second wave of coronavirus infections. Not a great combo. Quite a few people have voiced their concerns to Wendy about employees in shops and restaurants not wearing their masks properly and making them feel unsafe. And yes, many consumers don’t do their bit other - wearing masks with noses exposed, or as chin buffs or so loose and wafty on their faces, they may as well not bother. Engage with management if you feel unsafe - for all our sakes. This week, Wendy received an email from a Durban University of Technology (DUT) student, saying that students had been “forced” to go to campus to write tests and other assessments, but that no covid protocols were being followed - no social distancing, not enough sanitizers provided, and no screening. Wendy took it up with the Univerisity.

With President Ramapahosa's recent address, resulting in beach closures due to the second wave, you want to cancel your holiday. Can you demand a full refund? Listen to the podcast for Wendy's advice.

Dealership fees & other extras mandatory on your car deal? Nonsense!

Recently Tim shared with Wendy Knowler email correspondence he had with a salesman at the Honda & Suzuki dealership in Pinetown, part of the massive CMH dealership group.The salesman told him in an email that R1100 was for the licensing of the car - “an outsourced company does our licensing but I can speak to the boss if you want to license the vehicle on your own”, he said. So Wendy took that up with the dealer principal of the dealership, Darryl Sclanders.
In today's ECR Consumerwatch, Wendy Knowler gives advice about what to do in a situation like this, as well as what to do if you get a call from your bank’s fraud department.

201 episodes

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