The entertainment industry and performing arts have been among the hardest hit sectors since the global pandemic struck.
A lot of performers have had to live off their savings and virtual performances to survive.
But how sustainable is it really?
This is actor and comedian Rob van Vuuren’s concern. He posed an online question to First National Bank on 31 March, inquiring about the consequences he’d have to face should his debit orders bounce.
Speaking to YOU, the South African actor says that although he’s happy to be spending more time with his family, adapting to the digital space and generating income during the lockdown is a huge challenge.
To make matter worse, Rob got a pre-recorded call from his bank, alerting him that his payments were in arrears and that if he didn’t make payment arrangements, they’d be taking legal action against him.
FNB has since apologized to the comedian. The banks says the automated call had gone out in error. They’ve since offered Rob a cash flow relief fund. It’s a loan with a 7,75% interest rate. He accepted the loan so he can pay his bills.
But Rob is now concerned for others that might’ve received a similar call but whose banks haven’t yet contacted them to revoke the “legal threats” and explain the cash flow relief fund thoroughly.
“I feel like I can control my destiny to a degree because of the resources and the privilege I have, but I’m just like, what’s the response for everyone?
“I’m not interested in starting a fight with a major bank in South Africa. I was unhappy because the wording of that app was very poor,” he tells us.
Doret Jooste, CEO of Money Management at First National Bank, tells YOU that the message that Rob van Vuuren received was an automated message used prior to lockdown. It “was erroneously not updated along with the updates applied across the board” but has since been corrected.
Speaking on what qualifies a client for the relief funds, Jooste says that they first consider a client’s credit insurance. This automatic insurance could cover loan repayments for up to 12 months or until they regain income after the client gets retrenched or loses income for another reason.
“The payment breaks we offer are designed to assist customers through this emergency period and have a specific qualifying criteria, which includes an unexpected loss and/or interruption of income because of Covid-19 and/or the national state of disaster and customers having had a good track record of paying their products as at end of February 2020. All FNB customers can apply, subject to FNB’s qualifying credit criteria.”