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An employee signing a contract

A new info scandal: Companies can deny you access to that voice recording

Imagine signing a contract with a company - a cellphone contract, say - in one of its stores, and as you put your signature to the paperwork the sales assistant snatches it away.
A pug dog is dressed up in costume as she trick or treats with her owners during Halloween in Encinitas

Durban woman becomes victim of ID theft after falling for puppy scam

When Julien Armstrong-Kelly was conned out of more than R5‚000 after she tried to buy a puppy online‚ the KwaZulu-Natal resident was horrified.

Consumer protectors probe in R3.5 billion a year timeshare industry

National Consumer Commissioner Ebrahim Mohamed didn't hide his disgust at the conduct of major holiday clubs operating in South Africa when announcing a new public enquiry into the “timeshare” industry today.

Man battling terminal cancer struggles for timeshare reprieve

Even when a long-time “timeshare” owner is diagnosed with incurable cancer‚ it can be a battle to escape their “lifetime” contracts.
South African Airways Acting Chief Executive Officer Nico Bezuidenhout Demonstrates Airliner Catering Stripping Operation

SAA rethinks seatbelt policy after ‘obese’ incident

South African Airways (SAA) is to review its seatbelt extension procedures after one passenger’s humiliation when an aircraft had to “return to ramp” because it had failed to provide her with one.

Perfect the art of saying sorry

There's nothing like getting a heartfelt apology to make you let go of the pain and frustration of being wronged in some way.

Ombud report confirms behaviour suggesting some insurers ‘looking for reasons not to pay' valid claims

Long-Term Insurance Ombudsman Ron McLaren has confirmed what consumers have long accused the industry of - “behaviour that suggests that the insurer is…looking for reasons not to pay what appears to be a valid claim”.

Consumer goods ombud looks to High Court to get businesses to pay up

The future of the Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman (CGSO) - a vital dispute resolution service for consumers who feel their rights have been rubbished by retailers - is at risk because thousands of businesses are refusing to register and fund it.
A customer pays a hefty R420 per kilo for their favourite snack without knowing the price. Most biltong outlets don't display the price per kilogram.

Biltong retailers failing to behave in good taste

If you don't know how much a kilogram of your favourite Wet and Fatty, Traditional or BBQ will cost you, there's a reason for that — most biltong retailers don't display their prices because the prices will scare off customers.

The trouble with EFTs: If you transfer money to the wrong account, you may not get it back

The problem with processes that are quick and easy is that it's also easy to make a mistake - as many do, every day, when doing electronic funds transfers (EFTs).
In Your Corner with Wendy Knowler

Checking your credit score is now just a SMS away

When last did you check your credit score? The answer is most likely to be never.

If opting for lay-by‚ check that store’s policy is CPA compliant

Lay-by signs are popping up in the windows and at the pay points of many a chain store as struggling retailers embrace the interest-free payment model in a bid to entice consumers with maxed-out credit cards and tainted credit records.

Wait! Only 36% of your beef burger may be the real stuff

They are the country's biggest-selling frozen beef patties but a close look at the packaging reveals that they are not very beefy at all - just 36% beef.

It'll make you go spare

I don't know how the car spares industry got the idea that its products are exempt from the warranty provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, but six years on it's getting really tiresome.

Kuga sales down but Ford stays strong in SA car market

Ford Kuga sales have tanked but the iconic US brand has held its market share on other models.
FILE PHOTO: Clothes are displayed on hangers in a Marks & Spencer shop in London

When the price is too nice: Careful — what you see is not always what you get

Can you demand that a store gives you a product at the advertised or displayed price?
Inside A Massmart Holdings Ltd Game Store

Exposed: more falsely labelled 'high definition' television sets found in SA

It has emerged that it was not just one Telefunken television set that was falsely labelled as being Full High Definition (HD). Game is also not the only retailer that has sold televisions that claim to be Full HD.
President Jacob Zuma delivers his State of the Nation Address in Cape Town

Planning to skip work for the protests on Friday? Read this first

If you're planning to march in a planned national shutdown on Friday‚ get it cleared with your boss.

SA 'up there with the best' recycling plastic bottles

Many South Africans are under the impression that we don’t have much of a recycling culture‚ but when it comes to plastic bottles‚ we’re up there with the best in the world.

More fakes on the make

There's no escaping fakes - fake banknotes, fake degrees, fake designer handbags, fake leather sofas.if it's in demand, someone will find a way to fake it.

Travelstart's April Fool's Day prank a non-starter

Online travel agency Travelstart thought it had come up with a truly inspired April Fool’s Day prank-cum-promo.

Wesbank accused of 'coaxing" defaulting consumers to surrender their cars

The National Credit Regulator has accused Wesbank of illegally “coaxing” defaulting customers into handing over their cars to the bank’s appointed recovery agents‚ thus undermining the voluntary nature of the surrender process.

You may be skidding to a halt

Can a bank refuse to hand over a National Traffic Information System (Natis) document to a car owner who never fully paid off the car, even if that debt has prescribed?
Inside A Massmart Holdings Ltd Game Store

Game stores recall 'full HD' TVs that aren't

After initially defending its sale of Telefunken TV sets incorrectly marked as “Full HD”‚ Game stores have now removed the mislabelled stock from sale.

It's high time you got alarmed

If your teenage son lives in an outbuilding on your property, do you have to lock and alarm your home even when he's there?

Don't call us‚ we'll call you‚ and we'll make sure you get help: Credit Ombud

It’s one thing getting free advice and help‚ but when you’re forced to access that free service with a cellphone's pre-paid airtime‚ you can run out of airtime before you get it.

Take that contract seriously

If you are thinking about buying a car, especially a used car, this story should motivate you to pay very close attention to the paper work.

Need a loan? Here’s what not to do

Shopping for a loan online is about as risky as looking for love online - the chances of you ending up poorer are very high indeed‚ because the internet is the perfect hunting ground for fraudsters.

FNB to close its safe custody box facilities

First National Bank has decided to stop providing “safe custody” storage in its branches.
rands, money

No rest for the wicked

A woman who paid R3800 for a hair weave in mid-November and still hasn't received it; a man who paid R2700 for a tombstone in 2014 which has yet to be erected; and a husband who mistakenly transferred R3000 via EFT six months ago to a company instead of his wife, and cannot get it back.

Want my money? Show me a statement

If you get a demand from any form of money lender or debt collector‚ you have the right to insist on a full statement of account‚ showing how that amount was arrived at.

When it comes to grains‚ local is lekker

When last did you eat sorghum‚ millet or teff?

More Stories

Emirates working on solution to electronics ban on international flights

Emirates passengers affected by a security ban on electronic devices larger than smart phones will be able to work on laptops or tablets right up until boarding time‚ before being made to part with them.

How the electronics ban on flights will affect SA travellers

South Africans who are booked on flights to the United States via Dubai or one of the US’s other “high risk” cities from this Saturday until mid-October will have to make sure that their laptops‚ tablets‚ games consoles and cameras are fully insured.
debt, couple, trouble, bills, file photo

Pay back the money! Now!

People write to me for help about all sorts of consumer catastrophes; from Kugas that have now become the pariahs of the second-hand car market to rejected insurance claims and new cars that have failed to live up to the promise of shiny, happy, hassle-free motoring.

Ford extends warranty of ‘inf(l)amous’ Kuga by two years

In a bid to reassure and compensate Kuga owners and off-set the plummeting value of the inf(l)amous SUV‚ Ford South Africa has extended its original warranty by two years or 80‚000 kilometres.

“How can I make some noise?” Meet Kelly Fraser‚ who took on a banking giant

"You can lead a giant group of people at any age if you have passion and commitment."
FILE PHOTO -  The logo of Hyundai Motor is seen on a wheel of a car at a Hyundai dealership in Seoul

Who the heck is George? - Glass fitment centre hands car keys to mystery man

Companies, or rather the people who work for them, make mistakes - it's human and it's inevitable, and no one should expect them to get everything right all the time.

Oops! Our crash, your problem

Tony Kinsey of Durban had had his brand-new SUV for just three weeks when, late last month, he sent it back to the dealership to have some minor cosmetic issues sorted out.

Left in the lurch over visas

For South Africans with children, siblings and cousins who have emigrated, visiting them is a very costly exercise indeed, given the price of air tickets and the devalued rand.
Go get groceries yourself instead of having them delivered to keep moving.

It pays to be vigilant

What if you spot your favourite coffee marked at a good price at the shelf, but scans at R8 more at the till? Can you demand the shelf price?

Safety deposit box plunder – the questions FNB won’t answer

Is the theft of so-called safety deposit boxes from banks as rare an occurrence as the industry would have us believe?

Clearing up the return law

Happy new year, dear readers.

Ford still dodging burning issue of a Kuga recall

The video clip posted on Facebook by Maria Daniels of Port Elizabeth at the weekend of her Ford Kuga on fire was more alarming than all the other burning Kuga videos and photos on social media.

Surprise! Your meal is on us – How a restaurant made tired mom’s day

And now for a feel-good South African restaurant bill story…

Safety deposit box plunder – the questions FNB won’t answer

Is the theft of so-called safety deposit boxes from banks as rare an occurrence as the industry would have us believe?
Go get groceries yourself instead of having them delivered to keep moving.

Waste not, want not - that expired food is far from rotten

A widely-held belief that food becomes “off”, rotten or a food poisoning risk the day after its “expiry date” has consumers around the world throwing away huge amounts of perfectly safe, edible food.

Have you been wowed by good service lately?

Every now and then a reader brightens my rather depressing inbox with a story of exceptional customer service, and since this is the season of good cheer, I’m going to share one of them.

A lay-by law unto themselves

My report earlier this week on Nosiphiwe Ngcungama’s unfortunate lay-by experience with a Port Shepstone clothing store came just in time for a Jo’burg resident who’d been told he couldn’t cancel his lay-by on a pair of shoes.

Credit watchdog cracks the whip on Cape Town micro-lender

Cash-strapped consumers seeking loans from a lender in Cape Town had a nasty shock when their bank cards and ID documents were withheld after they struggled to pay off loans they couldn’t afford.

Ask Wendy: You break, you pay. Is it legal?

If you accidentally break something while browsing, can you be forced to pay for it?
Go get groceries yourself instead of having them delivered to keep moving.

Be abreast of your right as a consumer to avoid abuse

Companies that routinely put profit before consumer rights can be extremely creative in justifying their decisions.

Time hasn't healed the pain for family of deadly Ford Kuga fire victim

Kaveen Jimmy still has the voicemail message his brother Reshall left on his cellphone about 15 minutes before he burnt to death in his Ford Kuga on the night of December 4 last year.

Ask Wendy: Pay current debts, not old, prescribed debts

A staggering 40% of South Africa’s 24million credit active consumers have fallen behind in their repayments.

Carry-over data scam carries on

When upgrading, ask whether your accumulated data or airtime will be migrated -if not, ask for it, writes Wendy Knowler

Black Friday seems not to be Doom’s day

They could have got it for a steal‚ but shoppers seemed to snub a deal on the spray that’s said to heal.

Ask Wendy: When ATMs behave badly - what to do when you don't get your money

What do you do if you go to draw money from an ATM, and it spits out a statement showing that the money has come off your account, but nothing else?

Don’t be silly this festive season - Consumer credit watchdog’s festive spending tips

The festive season is aptly named the “silly season” because of a spending frenzy that appears to afflict people over this period‚ says the National Credit Regulator’s Mpho Ramapala.

Child abuse? Forget it‚ says ad watchdog‚ after viewers give VW a rev

A TV ad for a Volkswagen‚ in which two parents forget their daughter is in the back‚ ends with the words: “It’s easy to forget it’s a family car”.

Network caught in lie

Does MTN force its subscribers to forfeit their accumulated unused airtime and data when they migrate to a different package within the network?
Emblems of VW Golf VII car are pictured in a production line at the plant of German carmaker Volkswagen in Wolfsburg

VW, Woolworths tops list for best customer service in SA

Volkswagen has emerged as the South African company which most “gets” its customers and delivers not only exceptional service, but succeeds in creating and sustaining an emotional connection with them.
The Kia Rio is displayed on media day at the Paris auto show

What your car really costs

The words “Kinsey Report” will no doubt make readers of a certain age think of sex, Indiana University zoologist Alfred Kinsey and two others having penned two revealing books on human sexual behaviour some six decades ago.

Costly insurance error

Can the bank that is financing your car impose an insurance policy on you, and debit your bank account for it?

Watchdog has 'sell-by' issues

This is the National Consumer Commission's stated mission: "To promote compliance with the Consumer Protection Act through advocacy and enforcement ."

4 FAQs about buying olive oil

Learning this lingo will come in handy next time you're shopping for a bottle of olive oil.

So much more to 'upgrade'

"I am so pleased I read your article, as that got me going."

Power Report: Give your insurer all the details - or it might cost you

The devil is always in the detail. And usually in the dull fine print most of us overlook - until it's too late.

Power Report: Holiday begins with rude shock from airline

I could feel the anger and frustration in Jenny Park’s e-mail. The Hyde Park, Johannesburg, grandmother had just found out that the airline on which her family group was booked had bumped them off - and hadn’t even bothered to alert them.
Costa Rica Uses 100 Percent Renewable Energy For A Record 75 Days

Latin America eyes volcanoes to fire up clean development

Mexico and Costa Rica aim to build on their position as Latin America's leading producers of geothermal power to help meet the challenges they face of curbing planet-warming emissions and making their energy supplies secure.

Slow burn as FNB reduces Slow Lounge benefits… again

Consumers love loyalty rewards programmes but they really‚ really hate it when the rewards get diluted after they’ve signed up.

Power Report: Vodacom gets to fill the hole that 'Minecraft' dug

One of my earliest lessons in responsibility came from a beloved, but unconventional, aunt.
insurance, car, car repairs

Power Report: Don't fall for cut-rate car insurance

There's only one thing that beats buying your first car - buying your first new car.

KFC wary of customers making a meal out of its new Taste Guarantee

It’s been a year since the infamous KFC hose-blasted-on-cement-floor chicken scandal dominated mainstream media for almost a week and sparked 55-million social media impressions.

An ombud’s guide to dealing with high-maintenance complainants

There has been a steady increase in unreasonable conduct on the part of people complaining to the Ombudsman for Long Term Insurance‚ fuelled by what ombudsman Ron McLaren describes as “anger‚ frustration and an exaggerated sense of entitlement”.

CONSUMER WATCH: Truth and lies - the story of a repudiated job injury claim

What a shame a shocking case study in the just-released 2015 annual report of the Ombudsman for Long Term Insurance doesn’t name any of the parties involved.

Keep consumer flag flying

Six years ago, almost to the day, I opened up a conversation with you - the Sunday Times reader.

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