Consumers say Flexicell took advantage of them, and one happy reader will be reimbursed

Sowetan's Consumer Line has been inundated with complaints about Flexicell since we carried an article about the company's unfair business practice.

Sowetan's Consumer Line has been inundated with complaints about Flexicell since we carried an article about the company's unfair business practice.

Mmanoko Pheme complained that Flexicell was debiting his bank account for services that the company had not delivered.

Pheme was refunded last Monday, after Consumer Line contacted Flexicell about the problem.

Twelve other readers have also accused the company of enriching itself at their expense.

The consumers claimed that they received unsolicited phone calls from Flexicell offering them airtime at a discount, if they agreed to sign a contract with the company.

They all said they had to pay a once-off subscription fee of R99. They said they were told that they would get airtime worth R140 for a discounted price of R130.

The subscribers' monthly payments vary from R69, R109 and R129, for the same product.

Most of the subscribers said Flexicell debited their accounts twice a month, but did not credit their airtime.

The unhappy and angry subscribers said that although they had cancelled the contracts, they had not been released from them.

They claimed that they paid Flexicell more than R7000.

Thomas Maseko said instead of debiting the R129 he agreed to pay, Flexicell debited his account with R682, twice in two months.

"I do not earn that much and the debit order really messed me up. I have fallen into arrears with some of my accounts because of Flexicell," said Maseko.

He said he cancelled his contract, but Flexicell continued loading R1368 worth of airtime.

Another reader, Patrick Matseba, said he was also a victim of exactly the same circumstances.

"I am another one of those who has been victimised by the company. For seven months, Flexicell took R1176 out of my bank account, but did not load any airtime on my phone," said Matseba

He said he was told to be patient, but he ran out of patience and closed his bank account to avoid the company taking his money anymore. But his action inconvenienced him further.

"Because my other debit orders did not go through, all my accounts were affected," Matseba said.

Mudau Mabulele said she paid R927 for a year for airtime she did not receive.

Unlike the other readers, Mxolisi Gomo said he never authorised Flexicell to debit his account, but R129 is deducted from his account every month.

"I signed a contract with Vodacom in 1999 and have no reason to subscribe with Flexicell," said Gomo.

He said he does not always check his statements, but when he did so last month, he noticed that a debit order was going through to Flexicell.

"When I checked my previous statements, I discovered that it had been going through for two years," said Gomo.

He said he did not know how they got hold of his bank details, but insisted that he never signed a contract with Flexicell.

"It has taken over R3000 from my account for a service I never asked for," said Gomo.

Percival Thusini of Flexicell's brand marketing department did not respond to Consumer Line's inquiries.

But Matseba sent an e-mail thanking Sowetan for sorting out his problem.

"Flexicell contacted me this morning to tell me that they would be able to refund me by next Wednesday.

"All thanks to you. Have a blissful day," said Matseba.