Adv Neville Melville to champion country's 17 million social grant recipients

07 September 2017 - 14:46
Advocate Neville Melville has been appointed as the Net1 Group’s independent adjudicator.
Advocate Neville Melville has been appointed as the Net1 Group’s independent adjudicator.
Image: KEVIN SUTHERLAND

He was the banking services ombudsman for seven years as well the Consumer Goods and Services Ombud until a few months ago‚ and now Advocate Neville Melville is going to be dealing with the complaints of the country’s 17 million social grant recipients.

Melville has been appointed as the Net1 Group’s independent adjudicator‚ and has drafted customer service charters for its four subsidiaries - Moneyline Financial Services‚ Smart Life Products‚ EasyPay Everywhere‚ and its most contentious‚ Cash Paymaster Service‚ which distributes social grants on behalf of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).

He reports directly to the Net1 board and his decisions are binding on the company.

“Unlike regular financial ombuds’ offices I will not be dependent on reports from complaints managers but will have direct access to Net1’s complaints management system‚” Melville told TimesLIVE on Thursday.

“I think this speaks to their commitment to transparency and accountability when it comes to the complaints process.”

Complaints of illegal deductions - including airtime purchases - from grant recipients are rife‚ in many cases the fraudsters having taken advantage of the their naivety and lack of financial literacy.

“The financial services industry has placed huge importance on banking the unbanked in recent times‚ but has failed them in many respects‚” Melville said. “They have not educated them or provided them with sufficient information on how to protect themselves. Financial literacy must be the responsibility of all of us in financial services.”

He said he'd heard of cases of women being advised by “helpful” church officials to make their ID numbers their SASSA card’s PIN‚ and then going on to use that information to “raid” their account. Melville told TimesLIVE that he’s looking forward to being fully involved in dispute resolution again. “As CEO of a large ombud’s office‚ there’s very little time for dealing with complaints‚” he said.

“This new role is really in alignment with what I started in 1990‚" said Melville‚ who was responsible for setting up the Independent Complaints Directorate and served as its executive director.

“I have more of a feel for justice than the law - they are quite different.”

Melville added: “We are in the process of setting up a toll free number and will communicate that to the public as soon as it is up and running.”

*The Independent Adjudicator’s office can be contacted by phoning 086 099 4167 or emailing neville.melville@net1.com.

  • Email: consumer@knowler.co.za Twitter: @wendyknowler
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