Hillbank owner promises to repay money today

A Limpopo pensioner said she would die if Hillbank closes shop without refunding her R70850.

A Limpopo pensioner said she would die if Hillbank closes shop without refunding her R70850.

Mmama Thobeko is battling to get a Toyota Quantum minibus or her money back from Hillbank.

The Limpopo grandmother wanted to own a taxi so she could augment her income .

Accompanied by her daughter, Kesai, Thobeko said she bought a Toyota Quantum panel van from Hillbank Motor Corporation. which required the installation of windows and seats to qualify as a taxi.

Before its delivery, Thobeko was advised by taxi owners that her vehicle would be disqualified from operating even after the improvements.

She immediately notified Hillbank about her concerns and they allowed her to change the Toyota Quantum panel van for a vehicle she wanted.

Hillbank sells accident-damaged vehicles plus the latest stock of recovered stolen vehicles on behalf of insurance companies.

So Thobeko chose another Quantum, but before its delivery it was subsequently returned to its previous owner because of insurance claim disagreements.

Thobeko said the disagreements made it difficult for Hillbank to deliver the vehicle to her.

On Hillbank's advice, Thobeko said she then cancelled her order in September last year and waited for her refund. She has not heard a word from Hillbank since.

"It is now six months and I have still not been refunded," said the grandmother of four.

"I wanted to ensure that my mother gets this taxi as she would help transport out neighbours' children to school and church while she earned money," Kesai said.

She said she had been going to Hillbank's offices three times a week in a bid to get her mother's refund.

"I also hand-delivered my mother's letter of cancellation. Just the thought that my mother might not get her money back will kill her," she said.

Kesai was taking a cue from an article Consumer Line published about Sithembela Manana's problem. Manana has since received her money, thanks to Consumer Line.

A month ago Consumer Line published the story of a first-time car buyer who was battling to recover the deposit she had paid to Hillbank for a salvaged vehicle.

After weeks of waiting, Manana was finally refunded the R12000 she had paid as deposit for a salvaged vehicle.

Manana had said she handed the cancellation form to a certain Esme at Hillbank's head office.

"Now I cannot get Esme. No one wants to take my calls. A security guard at Hillbank will not let me in because he claims the company was closing down and staff had received retrenchment letters," Kesai said.

Unlike in Manana's case, Mark Groenewald, the owner of Hillbank, has been evasive. At one stage Groenewald denied receiving our correspondence although his secretary confirmed receipt.

After re-sending Thobeko's complaint, Groenewald said he could not trace any communication between his office and Thobeko.

"We have a number of Toyota Quantums here. We could have given her one a long time ago. Don't get me wrong, the fact that there is no record of her complaint is not the reason why we could not refund her money," Groenewald said.

He offered to refund Thobeko today because he did not have enough staff to attend to her matter.

"Please call me back in two days time. I will see what I can do for her," he said.