Online shopping bid turns into nightmare

2013-03-11 00:00

AN ONLINE shopping experience turned into a nightmare for Midlands resident Brian Meredith, leaving him to do battle with industry giants Standard Bank and Homemark.

The bank responded to a query by The Witness and worked with Meredith to sort out the problem.

Homemark, which has a long list of complaints against it on the consumer watch website “hellopeter.com”, failed to respond to the query, despite being given several days to do so.

Meredith has taken Homemark to the Small Claims Court. The matter is due to be heard in May. He related his saga as a warning to others.

In 2012, Meredith received a phone call from Homemark, which he had dealt with about a year earlier. He was told he was a special customer and was offered a GPS for about R1 600.

“I decided to purchase this instrument and they asked for my credit card number, which I gave them. I subsequently received the GPS and my card account was debited.”

In November that year, Homemark phoned him again, telling him he was their number one customer in South Africa and they were offering him a 21-piece stainless steel cooking set for R2 999.

Meredith said he did not want a cooking set, but the saleswoman would not take no for an answer. “I shouted down the phone, since they say it is recorded, that ‘I do not want a cooking set’ and put the phone down.

“The following week, I was phoned by a different person from Homemark, who gave me a reference number and said my package would arrive within a week.

“Again I repeated that I did not want a cooking set and had not ordered it, and again had to put the phone down on this person,” said Meredith.

A courier service arrived with a package from Homemark and he sent it off without accepting the parcel. However, his credit card was debited with R2 900 since Homemark had his card number. He sent off several e-mails, including one to complain that the GPS was no longer working, but received no replies.

Meredith said that in December his credit card was again debited for R2 999, following a phone call giving him a reference number, and in January, R3 164 was similarly debited to his card.

He complained that Standard Bank was unhelpful. The bank asked him to fill in a complaint form. “I then received a call from them saying something like ‘Homemark refuses to refund the money and there is nothing they could do’. Unbelievable!” Meredith said.

In February, when he thought things could not get any worse, Homemark debited his credit card for R3 300 and 20 minutes later his card was debited for R3 199,91. Despite the inconvenience, Meredith cancelled his credit card.

He then received a call from Homemark telling him that they had investigated the matter and he was asked once again whether he had received any parcels.

After another slanging match over the phone, he was told that his credit card had been refunded with R6 499,91.

“I asked how this could be as I had cancelled the card, but received no satisfactory explanation.”

Meredith said Homemark still owes him R9 162 and he will sue the company in the Small Claims Court.

After The Witness called her, Kershia Singh, media relations officer at Standard Bank, said the bank contacted Meredith.

“Our records show that we received a statement of dispute from Mr Meredith for the amount of R2 999,00 in November 2012, and the relevant charge back was processed in November.

“However, no further statement orfdispute forms were received for the other disputed transactions on his credit card. Standard Bank can charge back legitimately disputed transactions, but only once a statement of dispute form has been completed by the card holder. This is a requirement of the dispute resolution process,” Singh said.

The bank had since explained the process to Meredith and would be reversing the other disputed transactions on his credit card, Singh added. This should reflect in three working days.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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