Complaints that Stock Market College is taking its clients for a ride recently resurfaced despite an undertaking in December 2006 by its director, Herdus van Pletsen, that he would give a refund to all customers who had not received the promised training.
At the time Van Pletsen visited Sowetan's offices after complaints that clients were being ripped off in a scam in which they were hoodwinked into buying a speculative software worth less than R200 for R10000.
During that visit Van Pletsen explained how his company operated and undertook to comply with a notice in which Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa declared the sale of certain speculative software an unfair business practice.
What the consumers got for the R10000 was a textbook, More Charting for Profit, by Tean Tempkim, worth R80, a CD worth less than R7 and a mouse and pad worth less than R10. All these are available at PDSnet in Bruma Lake, Johannesburg.
Consumers were also sold information that was freely available from Standard Bank and Dynamic Wealth Securities.
Van Pletsen also undertook to register his company with the Franchising Association and to notify the public through Consumer Line about it, but he never did.
The company encourages consumers to buy software packages that teach them to use their computers to trade in securities and on stock exchanges.
But it failed to train its clients and when consumers tried to cancel the contract they were told they were liable for 24 months because they had failed to cancel within a five-day cooling off period.
Vusi Mtshweni, Welcome Mndaweni and Mandla Sithole, who are colleagues, claim to be the victims of the Stock Market College scam.
They claim a salesman sold them software in 2006, promising that it would make them wealthy.
During the presentation, which they said happened at their workplace, they were assured that they would be able to cancel the monthly instalment contract at any time they wanted to.
Mtshweni said they all paid R8995 for training but were later told the money was for the software, which comprised a compact disc, a mouse pad and a textbook.
Mndaweni said no software was ever installed on their computers because SMC had allegedly upgraded its software.
He said the company also offered to refund the subscription fee they had paid for 11 months while they were waiting to be trained.
This gave them hope that they would eventually receive training, but nothing happened.
"The arrangement was that the Stock Market College trainer would train us at our workplace, but this never happened despite our many approaches to the company," Sithole said.
He said they later cancelled the contract and demanded their money back, but Stock Market College refused, saying they were bound by the contract for two years.
Though Van Pletsen had welcomed the three clients into his establishment, he has now, through his attorney, denied that they were his clients.
The training they were promised is on how to operate the software which does not cover the course material.
The course material is on how to use the mouse pad, how to use the stimulator, where to find course material and to show clients where to find Cortex, the stockbrokers to whom the company is affiliated.
Van Pletsen also exonerates Stock Market College from liability for any poor performance on the market, or supposed advice given by a sales consultant or any other matter relating to their products.
His attorney, Jerry Steyn, said SMC was not liable to Motsweni, Mndaweni and Sithole because they entered into a contract with Polar Bair in relation to the profit course product.
l The minister of trade and industry, Mandisi Mpahlwa, banned the selling of speculative software in 2004.
If you receive offers of speculative software and are in any doubt, contact the Consumer Helpline at 0861-843-384, fax 021-394-2436 or write to the department.