Two travel costs you shouldn’t skimp on post-Covid & finding a locksmith
Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler’s 'watch-outs of the week'
In this weekly segment of bite-sized chunks of useful information, consumer journalist Wendy Knowler summarises news you can use:
Two travel costs you shouldn’t skimp on post Covid-19
As part of its #BackToTravel campaign, the Association of Southern African Travel Agents’ (Asata) has compiled a list of “new normal” travel tips, including these:
Accept that specialised travel insurance is non-negotiable — in other words, the limited free cover you get when paying for a plane ticket with your credit card is not enough.
International travel remains “incredibly fluid” for the moment, Asata says.
“Countries can move from low risk to high risk at any time and adjust their entry requirements at very short notice.
“Plus, you need to be covered if you test positive or get sick at your destination.”
Now is also not the time to skimp on airfares. The cheaper the fare, the less flexibility you have when it comes to changes — and that could end up costing you a lot.
“As tempting as it may seem to book the cheapest airfare, it is better to opt for a more flexible option in Covid-19 times,” Asata says.
“Travel agents intentionally book carriers that offer flexible or extended options on normal airfares.”
And as appealing as “going off the grid” seems to many, it’s not a good idea to choose a destination without connectivity as you need to be able to keep in touch with your travel agent at all times, should any new travel restrictions come into force during your trip.
Finally, the travel experts advise travellers to go “old school” and print all boarding passes, health forms, proof of insurance and Covid tests as backup to the digital versions.
Want to close your store account but can’t get the balance to zero fast enough? Here’s why:
Annelize told me she wanted to close her Sportscene account “but I can’t get the balance to zero because they keep on charging me for calls and SMSs”.
She was charged R20 per call, “even when I didn’t answer!”
“I’m happy to pay interest where due,” she told me, “but the other charges are ridiculous.”
She currently owes the company R550. I raised her concerns with TFG — which owns Sportscene, along with Foschini, Markham, @Home, Totalsports and several other brands — and was told that the collections costs which the company bills to account holders who default on their payments are less than those permitted by the Debt Collector’s Act.
So here’s what you should know if you have a TFG account: collection costs are billed from the time you don’t pay your full monthly instalment by the due date.
First comes an SMS, which you will be charged for, and if you still haven’t paid two weeks later, you’ll get your first R20 call. “The R20 takes into account the cost of the actual call, plus various other factors, such as the cost of staff and infrastructure,” says TFG Group director Jane Fisher.
TFG has now written off three months’ interest and collection fees — R215 — on Annelize’s current balance “in the interests of settling this matter”. So if she pays R334 by November 1, she can finally close her account.
Many Edgars accountholders who didn’t make any purchases during lockdown have recently discovered charges which they hadn’t paid attention to on their statements before — Edgars club fees and service fees.
Club membership is optional and easily cancelled, but the National Credit Act allows credit providers to charge a monthly service fee, regardless of whether purchases are made are not.
The only way to spare yourself that fee is to settle your outstanding balance and close your account.
Key advice: beware of the emergency locksmith Google found you
If you had to lock yourself out of your home tonight, how would you go about finding a locksmith? If you do what many others have done and Google “locksmith” followed by the area you live in, you could be ripped off.
Stuart of Sandton did that this week, and was made to pay almost R3,000 to the locksmith company which got him into his home at 10.30pm.
“When I made the call, I asked how much it would be and was told “R295 plus parts and labour, according to what’s required,” he told me.
The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) requires service providers to supply a quote for their work before going ahead. So Stuart should have insisted on a more precise quote before that locksmith got his drill out.
Last year a Lonehill woman was made to pay R3,485 for an after-hours service which shouldn’t have cost her more than R1,000, according to the Locksmith Association of SA.
Legally, locksmiths have to be registered with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) because they render a security service.
Here’s the advice: find a reputable PSIRA-registered locksmith in your area, and save their contact details — both working hours and after hours — in your phone. So when you do have a lock-related emergency at an odd hour, you won’t end up with the rip-off artists.
Always ask for a quote before giving someone the go-ahead to supply you with goods or a service, or repair your goods. Incidentally, they can’t charge you to prepare a quote or for any diagnostic work needed to prepare the quote, unless they disclose that upfront and you agree to pay it. Nor can they demand that you pay them anything more than the amount on the original quote.