Consumers gain A LOT

This has been a fruitful year for consumers because law enforcement ensured that some service providers stopped conducting unfair business practices.

This has been a fruitful year for consumers because law enforcement ensured that some service providers stopped conducting unfair business practices.

Consumer Line congratulates the National Consumer Tribunal for making sure that financial institutions adhered to the National Credit Act.

l In a landmark hearing the National Consumer Tribunal said it was unfair business practice for financial institutions to resell repossessed cars cheaply.

It ordered service providers to sell repossessed cars as soon as possible and at the best price possible to minimise the shortfall a consumer would be pursued for.

This determination was made after Frans Hendrick Dumas lodged a complaint with the tribunal against the Motor Finance Corporation.

Dumas was in arrears and had surrendered his car to MFC. He had a buyer who was willing to pay R100000, but MFC rejected his offer and later sold his car for R50000 - far less than the value or trade-in amount.

MFC then demanded a huge shortfall, which Dumas would have minimised to R18000 had MFC approved his proposal. After the tribunal heard the case, Duma paid much less.

l Thanks to Fais ombudsman Charles Pillai for protecting thousands of public servants who might have been defrauded of millions of rands from unauthorised insurance premiums deducted from salaries because of gaps in the state payment system.

Pillai urged the government to take urgent steps to review the industry's access to the salary system that handles about R540million a month in premiums.

Pillai's call came in the wake of his scathing judgment against the "large and high profile insurance company" African Life Assurance, trading as Sanlam Sky Solutions, which had deducted monthly premiums from Nonhlanhla Khawula, yet was unable to produce the document of authorisation.

The schoolteacher, a widow from Umzinto, KwaZulu-Natal, complained when she discovered that a policy had been fraudulently opened in her name.

lThanks to banking ombudsman Clive Pillay for stopping the morally repugnant practice of certain banks that leave defaulting clients destitute by seizing entire salaries to offset a debt. He made the banks refund the money deducted and only take reasonable amounts.

Pillai's office also recovered R8,3 million from banks for consumers. The latest initiative was by the Wireless Application Service Providers' Association (Waspa) of protecting cellphones.

Waspa introduced a host of protection measures recently, with a new set of advertising rules that came into effect last month.

A R300 threshold rule added to Waspa's code of conduct will ensure that the industry is better able to enforce ethical behaviour by members and will protect consumers.

Subscribers will be protected from ringing up huge bills because they will know when they have reached their threshold.

lWe recouped R800000 for Friday Ukhurebor from conveyancers who had withheld his money for eight months.

He had bought a house that the conveyancers could not transfer because the seller had not signed the agreement. We intervened and Ukhurebor was paid back his money, with interest, for eight months.

l Consumer Line is thankful for the Consumer Protection Act, which will stop unfair business practices.