Supermarket tills are best for cash deposits — here are the details
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:
Supermarket till is best for cash deposits, as long as they aren’t too small
The Shoprite group has followed Pick n Pay by making it possible for customers to deposit cash directly into their own bank accounts at till points in its Shoprite, Checkers and USave stores.
All you need is your bank card and the cash, plus a transaction fee of R19.95, which is the identical amount Pick n Pay charges for the service at its grocery, clothing and Boxer stores.
It’s a safer and convenient cash deposit option, especially for those who are paid in cash and live in rural areas where bank ATMs are relatively scarce.
But watch out because it’s only cheaper in terms of fees than using your bank’s ATM if you’re depositing larger amounts of R1,200 or more.
Shoprite caps its till deposit amount at R3,000, while PnP allows customers to deposit up to R5,000 cash, still for the flat fee of R19.95.
I asked Pick n Pay how shoppers had responded to the service offering and what is their average deposit amount.
“Customers are absolutely loving it,” I was told. “We have seen a jump of 159% in the number of deposits from level 5 lockdown to level 1.”
The average deposit amount in the last financial year was R1,600, so clearly most have cottoned on to the fee issue.
Can your medical aid dictate which doctor or hospital you use?
Yes, it can. And if you don’t make sure you choose their so-called designated service providers (DSPs), that could prove to be a very expensive mistake.
I recently received an e-mail from Riana who had discovered, that day, as her husband was checked in for a spinal operation, that they were responsible for a 20% co-payment because their choice of hospital was not approved by their medical scheme for spinal procedures.
Because they wanted to remain with their chosen surgeon, who does not practise at any of the scheme’s approved hospitals, they had to pay R32,000 upfront before he could be admitted.
“Surely this is not ethical?” she asked.
The answer is that it is legal, and the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) stressed that in a press release issued this week.
“DSPs and co-payments are legislative measures aimed at ensuring cost-saving and pooling of resources for the benefit of medical scheme members,” said CMS chief executive Dr Sipho Kabane.
“They remain part of the Medical Schemes Act and will continue to be applicable until such time the act is amended.”
The CMS caused a stir in the industry last month when its Government Gazette notice about DSPs and co-payments was published, essentially saying medical schemes found to be making unfair DSP selections and charging excessive co-payments would be engaging in “undesirable business practices”.
“The CMS seeks to ensure DSPs are selected in a fair and transparent manner and that co-payments that are still applicable are not excessive,” Kabane said this week.
“We are aware of cases where members of medical schemes have had difficulty in accessing their scheme-selected DSPs, and when they utilise alternative service providers, they are slapped with excessive co-payments.
“The CMS, in consultation with all relevant role players, has started the process of developing guidelines to ensure members of medical schemes are not charged excessive co-payments and that DSPs selected by their medical schemes are in their best interests. This process is expected to be completed by September 2021.”
In the meantime, read your scheme’s rules regarding DSPs to make sure you don’t get medical bill shocks.
Watch out for the great pretenders
Debt collectors have to be registered with the Debt Collectors Council in order to contact you and demand payment, unless they are attorneys.
Estate agents need to have been issued with a current fidelity fund certificate by the Estate Agency Affairs Board to legally operate as an estate agent, and anyone offering any form of financial service or advice needs to be registered with the Financial Services Conduct Authority (FSCA).
Debt counsellors can’t conduct any business unless they are registered with the National Credit Regulator.
Guesthouses, hotels and B&Bs can’t display grading stars on their premises or in their marketing material unless they’ve been graded and the grading is current.
However, many people and establishments claim be be legitimate when they are not because they’ve never been “vetted” or their registration has lapsed. They are banking on the consumer — you and me — not taking the time and trouble to check. So please protect yourself and take a few minutes to check. Here’s how:
- estate agents’ fidelity fund certificates: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com;
- financial services providers’ registration: call the FSCA on the toll-free number 0800-110-443;
- debt collectors’ registration: call the Council for Debt Collectors on 012-804-9808; or check here; and
- hotel stars: call the Tourism Grading Council on 0800-000-607.