Client saves costs, picks panelbeater

AN AFRICAN Independent client will finally have his car repaired, thanks to a compromise by the company.

AN AFRICAN Independent client will finally have his car repaired, thanks to a compromise by the company.

James Macaucau will no longer have to remove his vehicle from the premises of an unauthorised panel beater who towed it away after he had an accident in April.

He also no longer has to pay the escalated storage fees of R18 000 because his preferred panel beater has offered to write off the storage fee if he gets to repair the car.

Macaucau sang songs of praise when Consumer Line told him the news.

But Consumer Line takes exception to readers who set us up with the service providers by not telling us the truth as Macaucau did.

Contrary to Macaucau's allegations, Naresh Tulsie of African Independent (AI) told Consumer Line that they sold their product to Macaucau in 2007.

An audio tape in Consumer Line's possession reveals that Macaucau spoke to the insurers on May 21 for 21 minutes, giving them his details. He even volunteered information, including the acquisition of a new house he was about to occupy.

Consumer Line also wants to warn Macaucau and our readers not to accept any insurance policy without understanding its implications.

Macaucau said he had never signed any contract with AI when he actually had. It was over the phone and he went on to take out another policy. Later he denied ever talking to them.

Macaucau said he had never been involved in an accident before. He said he had never taken insurance to cover his vehicles. He claimed he was able to pay the full purchase price on the vehicles he previously bought.

But in 2006 he could not buy his BMW cash.

He had been blacklisted but managed to secure finance at Absa. Absa apparently had a special programme for clients who were blacklisted but were financially sound, he said.

Absa also helped him get an insurance company of their choice, he said.

He said he was happy and obliged by paying his monthly premiums. His monthly premium was R1256, which he still pays.

"I have never received any correspondence from the insurance company but was happy to pay every month," he said.

On April 29 he was involved in an accident. He called Absa to notify them about his accident.

He was referred to Hollard, who referred him back to Absa, saying his details were sent back to the bank.

"It took two weeks for Absa to trace where my money was going and when they finally did my car had accumulated R9 200 in storage fees," Macaucau said.

He said he was referred to a lady known only as Elizabeth of African Independent, who then took his accident details. But it turned out he had given an incorrect date for the accident.

Macaucau said no one told him his vehicle was insured with African Independent, but he was pleased to know they would entertain his claim.

Elizabeth promised to process his claim and in the meantime his car continued to accumulate storage fees at the premises of Reef Tune-Up & Panel Beating.

He said the damage to his car was estimated at R46000 and his panel beater was willing to write off the rental fees if AI let them repair his car.

But AI wanted him pay the storage fees rather than allow an authorised panel beater to do the work.

Consumer Line asked AI to reconsider its decision and let him repair his car with his preferred panel beater, to which they were amenable. But they said they would not be held liable for any shoddy workmanship by his preferred panel beater.