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Takwana Makaya
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Anderson Insurance and The Rise of The Machines

04 December 2013, 20:41

Anderson Insurance and the rise of the machines

Beep, beep, a message notification on my mobile phone. It was the early morning of Tuesday, 03 November 2013. Like anyone else, I opened up the message and to check what it contained. The message came from First National Bank. The bank was alerting me of the debit order that had gone through. It shocked me because all my scheduled debit orders go off on 25 of every month. Anderson insurance underwriters had taken money for the second time from my account. The first debit order (R783.13) was done on 25 November 2013 and the second debit order (R793.13) was on 03 December 2013.

It was a painful thought as to why that happened. In search for answers, I dialled the Anderson Insurance 0861 988 988 number in anticipation that I will get answers. During the greater part of the morning on 03 December 2013, I dialled the number with no success of talking to a consultant. The number was consistently engaged or busy. I logged a complaint via the Anderson Insurance website. The only solution was for me to visit First National Bank, the Rosebank Branch so as to understand what had gone wrong.

In the branch I got attended to by a lady, who was helpful. She tracked the debit order request and linked it to a Premium Collections company. The FNB employee phoned the company so that they would assist me with answers as to why they double debited my account. The Premium Collections company employee was so rude. Basically she told me that she did not have to answer my questions because she did not care whether my account was double debited or not. It was not in her place as the employee of Premium Collections to answer my questions even their company had acted on behalf of Anderson insurance to siphon money out of my account. I had asked a simple question: even though you had received a request from Anderson insurance to debit my account, was your system not in a position to pick up that you had already taken money out of my bank account? And who generates reference numbers that appear on the debit orders?

My simple questions made the Premium employee to throw the toys at me. The employee did not want to confirm or deny that their machines were not in a position to pick up the anomaly if there is a double debiting and why do they use different reference numbers in doing debit orders? The reference number of the debit order that went on 25 November 2013 is different from the debit order that took money on 03 December 2013. Why such a practice? There was no answer but there was dead silence from Premium Collections and I realised their phone had gone dead, whether by default or by design. I then requested the FNB employee to reverse the debit order that I classified as the thieving of the machines.

I walked out of the FNB Rosebank branch. My phone rang. This time, it was the Anderson Insurance Underwriters personnel. I asked them to clarify what had happened for them to double debit my account. The Anderson employee apologised for the mishap and that he was sorry on behalf of his company. The most crucial answer I looked for was the person responsible for authorising the debit order. The employee did not lay the responsibility on any human being but to what he classified as the system error. I consistently probed as to who was responsible but the Anderson employee was very evasive and laid blame on the system error.

In my thought I said the machines have done it. I thought of movies such as “I Robot”, Judgement Day; all movies where machines are controlled by their own software and instruct themselves to do certain things. System error; as said by the Anderson Insurance employee meant that their machines self-instructed themselves to debit clientele accounts. Anderson Insurance system programmed itself and commanded the Premium Collections machines to execute the debiting of people’s bank accounts. A typical rise of the machines I saw in many movies; where human made software would have a life of its own. Is this what really happened with Anderson Insurance machines or there is a human being hiding behind the system error façade?


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