Jobless due to ‘unfair’ listing

2011-04-02 12:50

A communication breakdown between Atlas Security Systems and Armed Response and its customer, Mbutho Kaulela’s left the latter with an impaired credit record.

And now Kaulela’s hope lies with the Credit Information Ombudsman, who will investigate the dispute.

The Eastern Cape man, who is a former manager at a security company, is struggling to secure employment as a result of his bad credit record.

In May 2008, Kaulela accepted a job offer in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, which required him to travel between towns on various occasions.

After moving to the Windy City, he rented a property but a neighbour warned him about the prevalence of housebreaking incidents in the area.

Kaulela decided to sign up with a security company, and explained to Atlas Security Systems that he wanted a flexible service.

The company explained to him that it did not offer short-term contracts but advised him to take out what they called the “rent to own” option.

Kaulela claimed that an Atlas sales representative informed him that with this option, he could cancel the service at any time, so he agreed to make monthly payments of R357 for a package that included a monitor system and a radio unit.

Ten months later Kaulela moved out of the rented property and immediately informed the company in writing.

But Atlas continued to make deductions from his account.

When he made enquiries, he found out that he had actually signed a 36-month contract, which meant he was liable to pay monthly premiums until the end of the contract.

Kaulela said he called the company and instructed them to cancel the debit order but that did not happen. He followed up with several emails, but that also failed to bring about an amicable solution.

He said he tried all possible dispute resolution avenues to get the dispute resolved and then in desperation he called Hotline for help.

“I was left with no other option but to instruct my bank to cancel the debit order,” said Kaulela.

“I did not hear a word from them until last year when their debt collectors started to harass me. I learnt that there was a default judgment listing against my name.”

He said the credit impairment was ruining his chances of getting a job.

“It is not like I refused to pay those people. They just refused to listen to my case and I have been unfairly listed.
Because I work in the security industry I have to have a clean credit slate and I am living a nightmare.”

Hotline referred his dispute to George Scott, Atlas’s legal and technical operations manager.

In his response, Scott said his company had followed the correct procedure when claiming the debt.

He was quick to refer Hotline to debt collection firm Brendan Weldrick Attorneys for comment, but they were noncommittal, referring Hotline back to Atlas. Following the blame game between Atlas and the attorneys, Hotline advised Kaulela to call the Credit Ombudsman for help.

» Similar complaints should be referred to the office of the Credit Information Ombudsman. The ombudsman resolves complaints of consumers and businesses that are negatively impacted by credit bureau information or
when a consumer has a dispute with a credit provider. The ombud can be reached on 0861 662 837.

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