Hotline to the rescue

2010-07-24 09:46

1. Stitch by stitch account of retailing ID fraud

There is hope for an alleged fraud victim who discovered that he

owed clothing retailer Foschini Group more than R8 000.

Mqibelo Mhlanga of Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg, was forced to

contact Hotline after an imposter fraudulently opened accounts using his


Mhlanga said: “The case is not yet over but it is headed


They seemed reluctant to investigate the fraudulent case.

I started

to panic when they could not retrieve the application documents.

Hotline struck

my mind and I am now looking forward to a positive ­outcome.”

In May this year, Mhlanga ­received a statement from the ­retailer

reflecting that he owed it money.

Mhlanga contacted the ­Foschini Group call centre and queried the


He was advised to contact the Alberton branch of the store where

the account was allegedly opened.

However, the store could not retrieve the application ­documents

and without them, ­he was informed, he could not be ­assisted.

In June, Mhlanga received ­another statement and ­contacted the

store again.

This time he was advised to lay a charge of fraud against the

­alleged imposter but police ­issued him with an affidavit stating that he was a

victim of fraud.

He submitted the affidavit to Foschini Group only to ­discover two

weeks later that no ­investigation had been ­carried out. The imposter is yet to

be identified.

Mhlanga said: “I was forced to relate the same story every time I

contacted the store.

Now it looks like there is progress on the matter after I

contacted ­Hotline.”

Hotline advised Mhlanga to obtain a credit report which ­reflected

that the alleged ­imposter entered into two more credit agreements with a

­clothing store and a micro-­lender.

Mhlanga has since submitted affidavits to the service providers

disputing the accounts.

Meanwhile, Hotline referred the complaint to Foschini Group and a

senior administration ­assistant, Shirley Chakane, promised to


 2. Perspective on debt put on track
An intervention by Hotline marked the end of the constant

­harassment of Portia ­Majatladi of North West.

She is the sole beneficiary of

the estate of a late furniture store customer who passed away owing R900 to the

furniture store.

Railways Furnitures demanded that she settle the account on behalf

of her late grandmother, Paulina Majatladi, or risk losing the piece of


The debt was only written off after she called Hotline for


“This is the best news I have heard in a long time. I have limited

knowledge when it comes to matters like these, but I have always known that no

one should be responsible for someone else’s debt after their death,” said


Three years ago her grandmother bought a bedroom suite on hire

purchase, incurring a total debt of R8 999.
The elderly Majatladi made monthly

repayments and at the time of her death had reduced the debt owed to the store

to R900.

Her unemployed granddaughter offered to repay the balance in two

instalments, but could not.

Railways then threatened to repossess the bedroom


This marked the beginning of a wrangle between the two parties and when

Portia could not fight the battle on her own she called Hotline, which then

referred the complaint to Railways Furnitures.

Shirley Mashola, the store’s administration manager, apologised to

Portia for the inconvenience.

She said the account was written off in May, a month after the

death of the account holder.

“Staff members who dealt with the matter did not

handle it properly.”

3. Exercise care with your car warranty

3The Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance is disturbed by the number

of false vehicle warranty contracts concluded between car dealers and


In a statement released on Wednesday, ombud Brian Martin said

frequently ­vehicle warranty products sold to the consumer are not underwritten

by a registered insurer and are nothing more than a contractual arrangement

­between the car owner and the dealership.

These products are marketed as insurance policies administered by

“insurance administrators” and have all the hallmarks of an insurance policy.

Later, when a “claim” is rejected by the so-called ­administrator, consumers may

turn to the ombudsman if they are unhappy.

However, if the dealer is not a registered insurer the issue falls

outside the ombudsman’s jurisdiction.

When such complaints are in turn referred

to the Motor Industry Ombudsman, this ombudsman also ­declines to intervene as

he deals only with matters relating to motor vehicles.

The Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance has referred this matter to

the Financial Services Board.

In the meantime, consumers are urged to be aware

when buying a vehicle warranty, and to enquire whether it is an underwritten

insurance policy.

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