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Edgars account holders warned to take a keen interest in their statement

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler's watch-outs of the week

Wendy Knowler Consumer journalist
A few Edgars account holders have complained of erroneously being charged interest on their accounts.
A few Edgars account holders have complained of erroneously being charged interest on their accounts.
Image: 123rf.com/Jason Cox

In this weekly segment of bite-sized chunks of useful information, consumer journalist Wendy Knowler summarises news you can use:

Take a keen interest in your Edgars account statement

Edgars’ 2 million account holders have had a rough ride this year, most notably over the traditional six-month interest-free account option which many have relied on for years. New owner Retailability announced the scrapping of the option and then, weeks later, in the face of a huge outcry from account holders, changed its mind and the six-month free plan would be maintained, after all.

That was in early October, but quite a few account holders have since complained to TimesLIVE of being charged interest on their accounts.

Among them was William of Kempton Park, who e-mailed last week to say: “I’ve just noticed on my Edgars account that I am being charged 17.5% interest.

“Do I need to do anything now that they have reverted back to 0% (over six months), or should I just wait for them to adjust the invoice accordingly?”

Asked to comment, Regan Adams, CEO of the RCS Group, which took over Edgars’ accounts when Edcon went into business rescue in April, said: “I can confirm that we had an issue where interest was applied to six-month interest-free accounts in error, but this was subsequently corrected and the interest reversed.”

Given all the upheaval with Edgars’ accounts this year, if you’re an Edgars accountholder on the six-months interest-free plan, you would do well to check your account statement to make sure that any interest you were charged (assuming your payments qualified you for zero interest charges) were indeed reversed.

Online purchases: Don’t fall for the 'no refund, it was on sale' line

Karthiga paid R1,400 for a branded hoodie for her daughter online on a Black Friday sale. The day it was delivered she contacted the company to request a refund, as her daughter didn’t like it. No can do, the company said: the product is discontinued, and their Black Friday terms and conditions don't allow refunds, only exchanges or a voucher.

“Am I forced to take the voucher?” she asked.

No, she is not.

The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECTA) allows you to return an item within seven days of delivery for a refund, minus the courier cost of returning it to them, (though the bigger e-tailers do not pass this cost on to their customers as a service).

You simply get to change your mind and send it back - a perk you don't get when you buy something in a store. And that perk applies whether the product was on sale or not. If that were not the case, all online companies would have to do to avoid the send-backs is claim that their entire stock was on a permanent sale.

Tracy bought a rug on Hertex Fabric in Bellville’s online sale in June and when it was delivered, the colour was very different to how it appeared on the screen. She returned it within 45 minutes but was denied a refund or exchange, because, the company said, it had specified that in its online Ts and Cs.

When I investigated, Hertex said the Virtual WareHAUS Rug Sale was born this year because of Covid-19 - it’s traditionally a physical sale - and they’d made some rookie mistakes.

Tracy was later refunded for the rug.

If the company which sold Karthiga that very expensive hoodie doesn’t do the same when she points out their ECTA obligations, I’ll take up the case.

Lost or stolen ID? Here’s what to do

I often hear from consumers who have been victims of identity fraud and are battling to convince the companies holding them responsible for loan or account payments that they’d been impersonated.

In many cases, they’ve reported the fraud to the police, but did not know that it’s also imperative to make contact with the SA Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) to prevent the fraudster from running up more debt in their name.

If you lose your ID book, or it is stolen, registering it with SAFPS means that they will enter the document's details on their Protective Registration database to inform their members - banks and other credit providers - that your identity has been compromised and that they should take extra care when confirming your identity for loan or account applications.

To get on to that register, call 011-867-2234 or e-mail protection@safps.org.za.

Save the details on your phone. The SAFPS recommends that you either scan or photocopy your ID book or card and passport and keep the copies or files securely separate from the originals.

This will help you get replacements in the event of theft or loss.

GET IN TOUCH: Wendy Knowler specialises in consumer journalism. You can reach her via e-mail: consumer@knowler.co.za or on Twitter: @wendyknowler

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