Making a quick buck off electricity

2019-08-20 06:00
Near the corner of St William Road and St Patrick Avenue there is a “tuckshop” that allegedly sells electricity at an extra cost.

Near the corner of St William Road and St Patrick Avenue there is a “tuckshop” that allegedly sells electricity at an extra cost.

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Electricity, while already an exorbitant cost for some, seems to cost the residents of Retreat and the surrounding areas more than it should as some corner shops have continuously enforced an extra charge on the service.

Retreat resident Charles Mitchell alerted People’s Post of the ongoing practise of “tuckshop” owners imposing an additional charge on the purchase of electricity, allegedly for the cost of printing the paper on which the electricity code is displayed.

“When I buy R20 electricity, some of them charge you an extra R2 and some an extra R1. They say you’re paying for the paper,” says Seawinds resident, Habiba Abrahams.

“If you don’t give them the extra money, they don’t give you the electricity. I told them it’s illegal because my cousin phoned the City – a few times she phoned – and they said it’s illegal,” she adds.

Sharing her sentiment is Benny Loteriet, also of Seawinds, who has experienced the same treatment from the informal store owners. “If you want R20 electricity then they tell you that you must have R21. They do it for the airtime too. They know it’s illegal because they know other shops don’t charge that extra money.”

Phindile Maxiti, Mayco member for energy and climate change, says no additional fees can be charged by a vendor for the service of selling prepaid electricity. “The City pays service providers commission to provide this service. The customer already pays for this service via the electricity tariff,” Maxiti explains.

Mitchell is concerned about the occurrence because he says the people in the area are already suffering a lack of income due to circumstances of unemployment faced by many in the community, and says that they simply can’t afford this extra cost.

Loteriet is one of many residents who agrees: “I can’t always afford it, so I don’t go there now. I go somewhere else and I have to walk further for it.”

The City has said that they will investigate complaints received regarding electricity surcharges. “Shop owners who are found to be charging customers additional costs for buying prepaid electricity will have their ability to sell electricity withdrawn and will be blacklisted from providing this service,” Maxiti confirms.

V Residents can report this illegal practice to the City’s call centre at 0860 103 089 or SMS 31220.

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