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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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.

Wendy Knowler offers solutions to Keri Miller’s municipal bill issues

Keri Miller was unexpectedly pushed into a tight budget this December after receiving a letter from the Municipality to settle a very big electricity bill, lest her lights are cut out by the 7th of December. This has been giving her sleepless nights and to get to the bottom of this, she enlisted the help of Consumerwatch's Wendy Knowler.
Following Keri's story about being slapped with a hefty electricity bill by the Municipality, many other people came forward with their own stories.

Whether it’s a computer glitch, a water leak, or the result of your meter finally being read after months of estimated consumption, getting unexpectedly high water or electricity bill from the municipality is a terrifying experience, especially this year, when so many of us are battling financially.
Listen to the podcast as Consumer Journalist, Wendy Knowler, decided to prioritise the matter by investigating the issue further and offering some solutions.

It never rains but it pours - best you get your roof checked out!

With the rainy season well underway in most parts of South Africa, the office of the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance is bracing itself for a spike in complaints from distressed homeowners whose building insurance claims have been rejected. The office dealt with 1800 cases of rejected building insurance claims during 2019, most of them roof-related.
Wendy Knowler spoke to Peter Nkhuna, senior assistant ombudsman at the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance and he has some advise.
“Roofs are exposed to natural elements, so they take a hammering, especially in hot, humid areas such as Durban. When you start seeing streak stains on the wall and discolouration on your ceilings, don’t do nothing - get it checked out.”
Listen to the full podcast for solutions.

Paid then, fly later... much later

The good news for those holding Kulula or British Airways tickets for domestic flights they couldn’t use during hard lockdown is they can use the value of those tickets towards new bookings on those airlines, both owned by Comair.

The bad news, says Wendy Knowler, is that while Kulula planes take to the skies again from December 1 and BA planes from December 9, Comair they’re only taking fresh money during the peak festive season.

Wendy also looks at what’s happened to the Durban - Cape Town route, as Durbanites wanting to fly to Cape Town are not exactly spoilt for choice at the moment - the route is currently very “underserved” by domestic airlines. LISTEN to Wendy Knowler explaining why…

Refunds for cancelled trips & a warning about bling cake décor: Wendy Knowler has some advice

Still battling to get a refund for your cancelled trip? You’re far from alone in that. Wendy Knowler's received a deluge of complaints from South Africans who've had their paid-for overseas trips cancelled because of COVID-19:-- flights, tours, accommodation, and while many service providers have issued refunds, others have dug in their heels and refused.

Meanwhile, with Christmas - the season of all things sparkly just around the corner, it’s a good time for a fresh warning about cake glitter and sparkly glitter balls. Listen to the podcast to get the lowdown.

Companies - get your own (throwaways) back!

FINALLY! Manufacturers will be forced to take responsibility for recovering their products or product packaging and getting it recycled. From cardboard boxes to electronic goods, lightbulbs, all forms of plastic and glass jars and bottles, the manufacturers or importers will have to make a plan to get it back from consumers after they’ve done with it, so that it can be recycled or reused instead. There’s literally no time to waste - landfill space is fast running out while currently just 10% of the things we throw out which can be recycled is actually being recycled. They will have to start new programmes, set up collection points, do regular audits and achieve stringent new targets in terms of new amendments to the National Environmental Management’s Waste Act. Wendy Knowler provides insight on this, as well as the risky and expensive ATMs withdrawals. Despite a dramatic swing towards digital banking, South Africa is still a long way away from a cashless society, with more than half of the population still transacting in cash daily. But many people are unwittingly paying far too much to move their cash around. What is the cause? We find out on Consumerwatch.

Road Accidents - what’s driving them?

So what category of vehicles are involved in most serious accidents on South African roads? If you said minibus taxis you’d be wrong. The answer, shared by Wendy Knowler in today’s Consumerwatch, will probably surprise you. A renowned, Durban-based forensic accident investigator has shared his findings and road safety suggestions after analysing more than 650 accident scenes between 2009 and 2016. Wendy also looks into the issue of losing your cellphone and how you should protect your bank accounts on your apps.

About those extra costs on your store account...

In this week’s Consumerwatch, WENDY KNOWLER explains why so many people are battling to pay off their store accounts. All those extras - club fees, service fees, and fees for calling you about your overdue account - add up. Also in today’s episode: how not to buy a puppy.

Edgars: this week’s drama for accountholders is an interest-related bill shock

Last week, Edgars hastily reinstated its 6-months interest-free account plan after announcing it was scrapping it just days before. This week, a “valued customers” got another interest shock - double interest charged to their October accounts because a “system glitch” meant that no interest was charged last month. Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler gets to the root of this scandal as well as the Comair issue.

192 episodes

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