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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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.

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.

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...

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….

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.

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.

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.

231 episodes

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