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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13
MAY

Bank notification SMS: How to know when it's a scam

Could those SMS bank notifications be false security?

The Ombudsman for Banking Services of SA released its 2020 annual report yesterday, revealing that fraud cases dominated the five top complaints categories: current accounts, internet banking, personal loans, credit cards and ATMs.
Current account cases increased by a dramatic 7% from 2019, with complaints relating to fraud, bank fees and charges and banks not giving notice of account closures account for 80% of current account complaints.
The report features 15 case studies and they make for very compelling reading indeed.
“These cases are more relatable and engaging than a list of statistics,” Steyn said. “It’s in the telling of the stories that we succeed in our consumer awareness efforts and in changing banking practices, from time to time.”
Several case studies had the same theme - the bank’s failure to tell their customer about a very real risk of fraud.
In one of them, a bank customer complained to her bank that she wasn’t receiving SMS notifications regarding credit card payments.
She was told there had been a technical issue, but that her SMS notification system was operating again. Cool, she thought, all sorted.
When fraudulent transactions totalling R200 000 went through on her account, without her being notified, the bank told her that because her account had been accessed via her banking app, no SMS notifications were sent to her. That’s because she had failed to register specifically for banking app notifications.
Can you believe it??
The OBS said it was a reasonable assumption that the notifications applied to all notifications on her account - it was unreasonable for the bank to expect customers to explicitly request notifications on their banking app.
And so it was that the bank accepted responsibility for that R200 000.
Pity the bank isn’t named, but the story serves as a strong warning to make sure that your bank sends you SMS notifications about all activity on your account no matter what
06
MAY

"Minimum card swipe is a lie", Wendy Knowler explains why

Don’t let a retailer charge you extra for card payments, or dictate how much you must spend, says Wendy Knowler in this week’s Consumerwatch.

IT’S ILLEGAL!

Wendy also shares:
What your car colour choice tells your insurer about you
Did you know that the colour of your car has an impact on your insurance premium?
29
APR

Which industries are exploiting you right now? Wendy Knowler shares this classified information.

Overzealous regular sanitising of workplaces and schools is totally unwarranted. You get the coronavirus from breathing, not touching, says top health body, as Consumerwatch’s Wendy Knowler revealed in this week’s show
Forget what you were told at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic - you are actually very, very unlikely to contract the coronavirus from touching surfaces. The US’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has this month confirmed what scientists have been saying for many months - the chance of getting the virus from surfaces is around 1 in 10 000 contacts.
So you don’t need to be wiping down your groceries when you get back from the supermarket, and if you’re a school or business you don’t need to spend a fortune on routine professional sanitising or fogging or electrospraying… that’s only necessary if you’ve had a Covid-positive in the past 24 hours.Wash your hands, wear your mask and VENTILATE.. that’s how you slash your chances of getting Covid. So what will it take for the sanitisation industry to stop exploiting consumers’ fears?

Is hailing an Uber costing you extra in bank fees?
Capitec bank is getting a hammering on social media for the international credit card processing fee it introduced last month.
That’s because it doesn’t only apply when you’re shopping overseas - every time a Capitec customer hails an Uber or Bolt, or buys something on iTunes or from Netflix - in fact any purchase from any company they get charged a R3 processing fee.“Definitely not cool, Capitec,” said Ceeces Travel on Twitter. “This is literally for every Uber or Bolt online payment, it’s insane..”
Capitec responded: “This is a fee (R3) charged for international purchases both successful and unsuccessful transactions, whether it was initiated cross-border from outside SA or locally from within SA. “This includes your Bolt and Uber rides and Netflix payments.”

So what are the other banks doing?
15
APR

Buying a bed? Don’t be caught napping, says Wendy Knowler

Do your homework - on the bed and the retailer - before you commit. Never has it been more important to do your research on a company before doing business with it. Check how they handle complaints on HelloPeter, on Twitter, if they have an account, and do a general Google search for complaints. Had Cookie done that before buying a bed from The Bed King in Chatsworth, she may well have decided to choose another bed retailer. If she’d Googled the store name she would have found a Public Service Announcement posted by The Bed King of Cape Town, warning: "If you are in KwaZulu-Natal and looking to find a Bed King in Durban, then please note that the following stores are not authorized Bed King Dealers & they are using our trademark name illegally: Bed King Springfield, Bed King Phoenix, Bed King Tongaat or Bed King Verulam, Bed King Pietermaritzburg, Bed King Chatsworth We’ve received messages from unhappy customers mistaking us for them. We’d just like to provide clarity to our customers that we are in no way associated with the above-mentioned stores. Please be aware that any items sold at any one of these unauthorized Bed King Durban and Bed King Pietermaritzburg stores are NOT covered by our product warranty or Bed King returns policy." Take a listen to that squeaky bed and find out what happened when Wendy tried to engage with the company, here.
07
APR

Paying your utility bill at a supermarket? Best you check the numbers says Wendy Knowler

I often warn people to check, check and check again when making payments via EFT or at an ATM.

Choose the wrong beneficiary or transpose an account number and your money will end up as an unintentional gift in someone’s account.
That someone may well choose not to give it back, and the bank can’t compel them to, leaving lengthy, costly legal action as your only option.

Just last night I got an email from a woman who transferred R60 000 to what she thought was a friend’s Standard Bank account from her FNB account. “Now the recipient is refusing to reverse the funds and the bank cannot help,” she wrote. It’s a story I hear so often.

But Joseph Slater alerted me to another problem area: like many others, he pays his utility account at his local retailer, and in such cases it’s the till operator you rely on to key in the right numbers.

But what if they don’t?

That’s what happened to Joseph nine months ago - his R980 went into the wrong municipal account nine months ago, and he’s and he only got his money back this week - after I took up the case.

For the full story and key advice if you pay your utility at your local supermarket, listen now.
31
MAR

Wendy Knowler explains what could go wrong when selling your car on consignment

In early December, Keryn Harrison gave her 2008 Mini Cooper S to KZN Cars in Pinetown to sell on consignment - it was agreed she would be paid R75,000.

In late January, the dealership told her she’d be paid that day.

That never happened. By early March, the dealership verbally offered to pay her back in monthly R25,000 installments, but when Keryn accepted via email and repeatedly asked for an acknowledgment, she was met with silence.

Finally, this week, after she approached Consumerwatch for help, she received a payment of R25,000.

Sound familiar? Take a listen to hear what advice Wendy has to offer.
25
MAR

How can you tell if that Gumtree buyer is actually a crook? Wendy Knowler has the details

By getting clued up on their tricks, says Consumerwatch’s Wendy Knowler
If you’ve got electronics - cellphone, laptop - or a generator to sell, it is sure to be snapped up by a buyer on Gumtree or OLX.

The trouble is. many of those supposed buyers are crooks, their aim being to get their hands on your laptop or bicycle.
A few months ago, Roland placed an ad on Gumtree for PC parts and ended up gifting them to a thief. “In hindsight, I now realise all the suspicion markers were there.
But men posed as church members said they needed my pc parts urgently, had someone come around and pick up the goods, sent fake proof of payment routed through some SMS portal, and of course, money never came through.”

In Laché Pretorius’s case, it was a keyboard, which she advertised for sale on Gumtree just last week for R12 000.

As a first-time seller on Gumtree, she missed all the red flags.

To find out what they were, and what Gumtree’s doing to protect its users from fraudsters, and how to spot them when posting something for sale, take a listen...
18
MAR

The new normal is…there is no normal

If you have a bottle of shampoo labelled as being for “normal” hair, it could soon become a relic of a bygone age. Normal is a problematic word. What’s normal, and who decides what is? Because the inference, of course, that if you are not normal, you are somehow deviant. Not usually a positive thing. Last week Unilever - the owner of the Dove, Lifebuoy Vaseline and Sunsilk brands, and more, tweeted: “We’re removing the word ‘normal’ from ads, products and packaging across our entire range of beauty and personal care brands, all over the world.” The company said it will also stop digitally altering the body shapes and skin colour of its models. More than 100 Unilever brands will replace “normal” with terms such as “grey hair” for shampoos or “moisture replenish” for skin creams by 2022. This after Unilever commissioned a 10,000-person study across nine countries, including in South Africa. Take a listen to what the respondents had to say….
10
MAR

The big Salt and Vinegar tease

It’s a very curious story. Lay’s marketing director Agnes Kitololo said recently that the brand had listened to its customers, “so we wanted to give them another chance to indulge in this exceptional flavour experience that only Lay’s Salt and Vinegar seems to give them”. That begs the question: “So why were they discontinued, then, if they are so popular and so exceptional?” For the full story, and the latest on what’s going on with the iconic HP Sauce, listen here.
04
MAR

Nil by Mouth (except water): Wendy Knowler explains why food on flights is done

South Africa has returned to level one lockdown, and while some restrictions have been lifted and things have been becoming more relaxed, it seems like one industry has now been hit with new constraints. Airlines are prohibiting travelers from eating or drinking on flights. Does that mean you'll be dehydrating making your way from Durban to Cape Town? Did the airline have any say in this change? Dont stress because Wendy Knowler will tell you everything you need to know.
25
FEB

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.

212 episodes

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