Inflated costs of acquiring an inflatable bed

Last week I received an unsolicited SMS, allegedly from Homemark, congratulating me on winning an inflatable bed.

Last week I received an unsolicited SMS, allegedly from Homemark, congratulating me on winning an inflatable bed.

I have not entered any competition since 1994 when Standard Bank did away with their Finders Keepers.

I gave up because I thought I was going to make history as the first black person to win the bank's competition. But when a white entrant won I gave up on competitions.

Then I was City Press's consumer reporter and my colleague, Sandile Memela, consoled me after the sad news.

"If God wants you to win, you will. Besides, I honestly did not wish you win. Who would help consumers if you won a million? You would quit journalism."

I am still not sure if I would have quit because the money was payable in instalments of R50000 over 20 years.

Back to the Homemark story. After getting the "good news" I gave the company my reference. A man who only introduced himself as TJ took my details and promised their sales agents would call me.

The company only had my cellphone number, which they claimed they got from a relative or a friend.

But to claim this inflatable bed worth R375 I am expected to part with R99 for postage and delivery, said Angelique Adams of Homemark. Adams said the winners forfeit the prize if they do not pay for the postage and delivery.

She then demanded my credit card details over the phone to process the payment. Though I could collect the prize from the Sandton office, Adams said it was mandatory to pay the amount.

Julie Swart, of Homemark, tried to convince me this was not a scam. But only to somersault when I told her Sowetan runs a consumer column that enlightens readers about their rights and exposes unfair business practices.

Swart then said she has warned her staff not to ask for credit card numbers.

"They must allow winners to make alternative arrangements."

Swart took my e-mail address and promised to send me an address where I could collect my prize, but never did.

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