Edgars' rapid about-turn on the axing of its six-month interest-free option

09 October 2020 - 13:15
By wendy knowler AND Wendy Knowler
Edgars’ 2 million account holders will no longer lose out on their interest-free buy-now-pay-later option.
Image: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO Edgars’ 2 million account holders will no longer lose out on their interest-free buy-now-pay-later option.

“We’ve heard our customers, loud and clear - the six-months interest-free plan will stay.”

Norman Drieselmann, CEO of Retailability, the Durban-based company which recently bought iconic South African brand Edgars, took two tough decisions in the past week or so.

The first was to scrap the brand’s long-standing six months interest-free credit option to bolster the financial viability of the hobbled giant, and the second, a few days later, amid a storm of very public protest, was to reinstate it.

The bad news was delivered to accountholders - or “valued clients” as they were called, via SMS: “Unfortunately the six-month interest free plan on your Edgars account is no longer available, but you can still purchase using the revolving, 24- or 36-months plan options. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Many of those “inconvenienced” customers shared their outrage on social media.

“I am astounded that Edgars can simply SMS changes to their terms of agreement with no warning or discussion,” a Ms Scott said on Twitter last week. “In store this week I was assured that no changes were expected to card holders. Bye-bye Edgars”.

“Olive” tweeted: “Even though there’s a business rescue plan, you and RCS can’t change clients' T&Cs without their consent and written agreement.”

The contract does allow for that, but clearly there was enough resistance to the interest-free option’s axing to make Retailability do a rapid rethink.

“It’s been a very complex process migrating the Edgars business from Edcon into Retailability,” Drieselmann said.

For one thing, RCS took over Edgars’ accounts when Edcon went into business rescue in April.

And there is clearly much to fix: the 17% market share Edgars had in 2007 has since dwindled to 6%.

“We have long way to go to restore Edgars to its former glory, but Edgars remains a powerful brand. When we return to providing the right product at the right price for the broader market in South Africa, I believe we’ll get many of our core customers back,” Drieselmann said.

But that new retail offering won’t happen until early next year. For now, Edgars’ 2 million account holders will be happy to know that the changes won’t include depriving them of their interest-free buy-now-pay-later option.

 GET IN TOUCH: You can contact Wendy Knowler for advice with your consumer issues via e-mail: consumer@knowler.co.za or on Twitter: @wendyknowler