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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23
SEP

Beware the non existent puppy scam, says Consumerwatch’s Wendy Knowler

Here is some advice on how to spot a pet scam. The pet scam is by no means new, but a significant number of South Africans are still falling for it. If you type “husky breeder” or “maine coon kittens” into an internet search engine, you will inevitably land on the page of a fraudster.
The asking price may seem like a good deal, but given that it’s a pretend pup which a fraudster is dangling as a lure, it’s can turn out to be very expensive indeed.
Take a listen as she shares how to demand back some of the money from these scams.
09
SEP

How to avoid being scammed - Wendy Knowler

Shopping on the world wide web is very dangerous business, more dangerous than many realise. Too many get caught in the web because they’re too trusting of a good looking website or a great price.

Pat Pontack of Cape Town contacted me last week to say she’d lost more than R20,000 to a Durban-based company called Big O Trading, cc. She wanted to buy a Thermomix TM6, a do-it-all wonder kitchen appliance that does slow-cooking, food processing, steaming, mixing, and more.

Take a listen as Wendy Knowler helps a victim of being scammed online.
She also shares how to avoid it further.
19
AUG

Are funeral policy increases killing your budget? Wendy Knowler advises

Hollard said it had to implement a second premium increase as result of mortality experience exceeding expected experience across our entire funeral portfolio, over a period of more than a year.

It affects the insurer’s direct book of business - that’s policies taken out over the phone and policies sold under the Kaizer Chiefs brand, but excludes any business sourced from partners such as Edgars and Jet.

Phumi’s policy document reads:

“Hollard may increase the benefit premiums from time to time by giving you 30 (thirty) days’ written notice of such increase.”

“Unfortunately,” Hollard said, “the combined effect of the re-rating and the increase have resulted in a substantial overall increase. We realise that policyholders may be facing financial challenges in these tough times, and fully understand if anyone wishes to decrease cover in order to lower premiums.

Take a listen as Wendy Knolwer thoroughly explains the importance of checking you funeral policy documents:
12
AUG

Scammers using Capitec bank accounts as so-called business accounts

Fraudster pay so-called money mules to open bank accounts, and when the victims’ money lands in that new account, they transfer it to the fraudster, thereby ensuring that the fraudster remains untraceable.
“Capitec does not currently offer business accounts, therefore people should not believe a business that states it has one,” the bank said.
"Should consumers fall victim to fraud – or even if they don’t fall victim to the attempt – it is important to contact the bank to report the incident.”
Capitec’s 24-hour call centre on 0860 10 20 43.
It’s the same story with African Bank - the bank only has personal accounts, not business ones.

Take a listen to how to avoid this scam.
29
JUL

Flights suspended and Mango communications is vrot, says Consumerwatch’s WENDY KNOWLER

It’s not been a great week for Mango Airlines and its ticket-holding passengers are feeling the pain - again.
On Monday the SAA subsidiary announced that it was going to go into business rescue and the next morning hundreds of would-be passengers were left stranded at Joburg’s OR Tambo and Cape Town international airports.
In the case of the flight departing from Cape Town at 10:15, bound for Durban, Mango only notified the queuing passengers shortly before 9, via SMS, that the flight had been suspended.
That was more than an hour after Mango had expected them to be at the airport! Totally unforgivable.
As is not posting a few Mango personnel at the airport to deal with distraught passengers.
One Durban family of five is only flying back to Durban this afternoon, having been unable to book seats on other flights on Tuesday or Wednesday.
LISTEN here for the full story…
22
JUL

Is there an unreasonable increase on the prices of goods after the looting in KZN?

It is called price gouging and if you can prove it if, here’s what to do

As the people of this province know all too well, last week’s extraordinary looting of not only supermarkets but their distribution centres, too, led to chronic food shortages, and in some cases, crazy prices.
I had people emailing me about tomatoes selling for R200 a pocket, toilet paper R180 for a six-pack, bread loaves selling for twice the normal price and more.
Without till receipts as proof of current prices versus previous prices there can be no investigation, and that’s what the KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs will require if you lodge a price gouging complaint.
“Where wrongdoing is found we will not hesitate to take action which may include fines against those businesses,” said MEC Ravi Pillay.

“This cannot be a time for profit-making. Excessive profiteers are warned that the law provides for severe punishment. We will also publish offenders with the consequence of reputational risk.”

The National COnsumer Commission has also expressed its outrage at such allegations, because the Consumer Protection Act makes it a prohibited conduct for a supplier to increase their prices unconscionably, in a way "that does not correlate to an equivalent expense in the cost of providing that service or product".
A supplier who contravenes these regulations can face a fine of up to R1million or up to 10% of a firm’s annual turnover, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.
Take a listen to what is considered "wrongdoing" in this instance.
15
JUL

How to - Insurance after looting

If you have car and household contents insurance cover, then a tiny part of your monthly premium is paid every month by your insurer to Sasria, a government-owned insurer providing cover against risks such as civil commotion, public disorder, strikes, riots and terrorism.
The good news is while Sasria’s (the South African Special Risks Insurance Association) policy wording states that looting in itself is not considered to be a Sasria event, Sasria accepts that it falls under civil commotion so all related losses are covered.
More good news is that Sasria MD Cedric Masondo says they have enough capital to cover what he currently estimates to be claims of between R3.5billion to R7billion.
About 85% of all commercial properties and government buildings in South Africa have Sasria cover, along with all privately mortgaged properties, and all insured cars. The two thirds of cars on our roads which aren’t insured, don’t have this civil commotion cover.
But there’s something you need to check about your household contents cover. Take a listen…

232 episodes

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