Look closely into financial matters

2014-11-18 15:22

This is a call to  every person who is using any service provider in South Africa, especially those which utilise debit orders for the payment of the dues. Just this year alone I have had four separate experiences with four different service providers which I will delve into below, along with some lessons learnt. I will not state out rightly their names but it should not be hard for you to pick out who they are :)

Vehicle Insurance

Mid-last year we decided to get a vehicle and with it came the need to get vehicle insurance. The insurance company which generally speaking is not one that automatically comes to people’s minds was giving a relatively better premium and excess- based on my profile.

The vehicle model is 2011 but as year of first registration was 2013, a mix up happened and the vehicle was registered as such. The premium I was paying was therefore based on a newer version and not the right version. I raised the issue with the company and I thought they had changed this but they didn’t.

Long story short, close to the anniversary of the cover as they were reviewing the cover it turned out the policy documents had not been revised even after two instructions to do so. The company ended up having to do a backdated calculation to calculate the premium I was meant to have been paying on a 2011 model. I then got the refund.

At the point of my discovering an insurance company which gives rewards for my good driving a left the company which in retrospect had been giving me a general service.

Modem 

In 2013 I obtained a data contract with one of the mobile operators hoping to get some power in my hands. At the time the contract suited my requirements and the cost was relatively okay compared to other service providers. At the beginning of 2014 I cancelled the contract to get a less costly package as the previous deal had lapsed and I did not want to be migrated to one which I had not chosen.

I went to the same outlet where I had obtained the first contract. They were supposed to sent through the cancellation documents to their head office but they did not do this. After about 2 months I started noticing 2 debit orders coming off from my account when only one was supposed to have been coming off (the new contract).

Beginning of 2014 decided to cancel the contract and switch to a cheaper one as I didn’t need to use the modem that much. Shop didn’t send through the cancellation to head office and they therefore continued debiting my account for a contract which was meant to have been cancelled. I noticed I was getting two debits from the same service provider yet I had ‘one’ contract with them. The follow up I did with the shop enabled me to obtain a refund for the 6 months they had been taking money from my account for a service which I had closed off- which they had not closed.

Flights 

After trying to process a booking on a local cost airline ‘which is not a fruit’ I switched to processing it on their partner airline from the queen’s land. I decided to do this because their web page had been inactive for a bit even though I had entered the details for the traveller.

The time I processed the booking on the other site- it went through with no hassle and I got an email confirmation of the booking. The problem came about when our account got debited twice for the same booking. At first we thought the problem lay with a bank which asks ‘how can we help you?’ so we went to see them to tell them how they could help us. After some back and forth and upon investigation it came out the ‘non-fruit’ airline had actually processed the booking yet there had not been any confirmation sent our end. The confirmation was only sent 3 weeks after they had processed the booking.

What boggles the mind is how come they would not have picked up that 2 bookings had been processed for the same person, on the same plane, for same price, paid from the same card, for the same time and destination. In dealing with this scenario that’s where it came out that though the two airlines ‘fly together’ they have separate systems and they can’t access the information from the other.

Finally after 3.5 weeks the airline company cancelled their ‘phantom’ booking and reimbursed us for the booking which they were not supposed to have processed.

Landline

I was working from home for a bit and therefore required a land-line to be installed in the flat. After I switched jobs I decided to change the phone contract from a contract package to a prepaid package. Previously the package was affordable because there was a portion which was covered by the company I was working for.

I gave an instruction to the service provider to do the change and cancel the monthly debit order set on my account. Though this instruction had been as clear as clear can be, when the day the debit order used to come off arrived, money was taken from my account.

At least I managed to follow up with them and the company refunded me. After they had looked at my account, it actually came out they had previously billed me for more than they should have so they paid back more than just the last wrong debit. Had I not noticed this, the company would have taken that money and I would not even have known.

All these incidences happened in this year, in a space of about 6-7 months. Just imagine how many other people are affected by one or the other incidences which I mentioned above (or similar ones).

Lessons learnt

1) One always needs to look closely into their financial matters, if you don’t you are vulnerable to being fleeced

2) When there are debit orders which you have cancelled- make sure you get a confirmation letter

3) Set up sms notifications so that you are kept in the loop of goings on in your account(s). Make sure you are fully in the loop

4) Make it a habit to sit down and always look at your bank statements and if you see anything irregular, flag it and follow it up

5) Limit the number of debit orders on your accounts. Actually if possible, pay cash.

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