Avoid making credit card transactions with cold calling firms as getting a refund could be a battle

2015-02-10 00:00

CONSUMERS who make direct marketing purchases and end up with buyers’ remorse, often don’t know enough about the operations of the cold calling company before transacting and then have an uphill battle to get a refund.

Tracey Wormald of Queenstown, Trudy and Philip Stegen and Don and Ellen Smale of Pietermaritzburg, Hester van Wyk of Viljoenskroon and a few ­other consumers complained to me about their experiences with travelling salesman Ryan Venter of Trade Eezi with associations to Global Equity, Hour Glass Trading and Capital Equities.

According to them, Venter had called between May, 2013 and September, 2014 and set up an appointment to ­demonstrate an online trading software programme at their business premises. The consumers said they had agreed to sign a contract for Venter to debit their credit card budget facility, using an old manual Standard Bank credit card ­machine, for amounts ranging from R18 000 to R22 000 for the software and a training course.

But after sleeping on the decision most decided that they wanted to cancel the transaction within the five-day “cooling off” period, allowed for direct marketing transactions in terms of the Consumer Protection Act, and be refunded within 15 business days. And that’s when their troubles started.

Wormald said that after a long fight she managed to get R2 200 refunded but the Stegens have so far only been refunded R5 000, the Smales R9 000 and Van Wyk — whose transaction took place in May, 2013 — has neither received the product nor a refund.

Van Wyk said she signed the contract on Thursday, May 23, 2013 but she called Venter three business days later — on May 27, 2013 — to cancel the transaction. Van Wyk also e-mailed Venter on Tuesday, May 28, the fourth business day after the transaction, to confirm cancellation.

“He said it is too late, because it is five days from signing, which includes Saturday and Sunday,” Van Wyk said.

However, this is incorrect. Consumers have five business days from either the date of transaction, or the date of delivery of the goods, whichever is the later, in which to cancel a direct marketing transaction without penalty.

Van Wyk said she repeatedly called Standard Bank to stop the transaction and although a staff member assured her the debit would not be processed, an amount of R14 000 was debited. She disputed the debit but the bank refused to reverse it, so she paid the debt and closed the account to avoid further debits.

“During October, 2014 a ‘Cathy’ from Trade Eezi phoned and asked when will I pay the final R8 000 that was outstanding. I told her … that I won’t pay because I did cancel it,” Van Wyk said.

But Trade Eezi somehow managed to debit her closed account for a further R8 000 in November, 2014.

I took up the consumers’ cases with Venter and also asked Standard Bank why Van Wyk’s transaction had not been reversed; and why Venter was permitted to use the bank’s card facilities despite him not refunding consumers correctly.

According to Venter, Global Equity no longer exists, while Capital Equities “was our head office but we no longer utilise their services”. He said the company now trades under the name Trade Eezi.

“I am a consultant for Trade Eezi with 15 years of experience selling … software programs. I am not associated with the finances of the company and hence cannot tell you why certain clients’ refunds were not done within 15 working days,” Venter said.

He said he had not received Van Wyk’s cancellation e-mail but that he had ­reduced the purchase price to R18 000 and debited her account with R14 000 and R8 000. He said Van Wyk had declined to allow installation.

Venter said the company had refunded the Smales R18 000 — but Ellen Smale said she had only received R9 000 deposited by a Mrs Laight. He said the Stegens had been partially refunded and the balance would be paid this week.

Standard Bank head of card acquiring South Africa Andrew Wilmot said consumers were protected when paying in advance by MasterCard and Visa credit cards and they could dispute a transaction if goods were not received.

“The issuing bank, who provides the card to the cardholder, will request proof of delivery from the acquiring bank, who provides card processing to the ­merchant,” he said.

“The acquiring bank will retrieve this information from the merchant.

“In the instance either the acquirer, or the merchant are unable to provide ­supporting documents of delivery within the set out time frame, the cardholder enjoys an automatic reversal of the ­transaction,” he said.

Wilmot said banks monitored merchants for unusual transactions and high levels of chargeback activity, which could result in credit card facilities being removed and a company being blacklisted against being granted a facility in future.

Wilmot said Capital Equities’ credit card facility had been terminated in May, 2013, and the bank would now be ­investigating whether Hourglass, Trade Eezi or Global Enterprises were listed as merchants. “Should we have any of these entities we will immediately suspend card acceptance activities and launch ­investigations.”

Wilmot said the bank would further investigate Van Wyk’s complaint.

“It does appear that while she ­disputed the matter in good time, our processes may not have worked as ­designed. This is regrettable and will be given close attention,” he said.

I will keep you posted on the outcome of her claim.

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