Capitec business accounts, flower caution for pet cats and home checks: Consumer 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:
That bank rep is not checking on the structural integrity of your about-to-be new home
If you apply for a bond on a home, the bank in question will send someone to the property to do a valuation to ascertain whether the agreed purchase price is justified.
That person is not ensuring there’s no damp in the walls or checking the boundary wall was built according to regulations or the roofing timbers are not rotten.
Many people who take out homeowners' insurance on a property with the insurance division of the bank to which they applied for the home loan assume the bank’s assessor has given the property a structural thumbs-up.
When Martin’s claim for leaks in his new home was recently rejected by his bank’s insurance arm, he e-mailed me to complain, saying: “The residence was inspected and assessed by a bank representative for damage as well as wear and tear that had to be repaired before the bond went through.
“It was the bank’s responsibility to assess the property properly as there is no way we could have noticed the leaks in the roof.”
No, it was not the bank’s insurance division’s responsibility to have the roof inspected before covering the property.
His claim had been rejected on the grounds that the leaks were not caused by a sudden event but by wear and tear; in other words, lack of maintenance.
To avoid this costly scenario, prospective homeowners should not commit to buy a property without first paying a professional property assessment company to do a full technical assessment of the condition of the property.
How to tell if it’s really a Capitec business account
It used to be the case that if a “company” advertising goods or services provided a Capitec account for payment, that was a red flag for fraud because the bank did not have business accounts. But Capitec recently took over Mercantile business accounts, which now fall under Capitec branding, so that advice doesn’t stand anymore. A bona fide business could well have a Capitec account.
So I asked the bank whether there was a way for consumer to tell whether a Capitec account number was that of a personal or business account. Turns out there is.
“The way to differentiate between a personal savings account and a business bank account when making a payment is the branch codes,” Capitec told me. “The Capitec savings account branch code is 470010 and the Capitec business branch code is 450105.
“To ensure accuracy and avoid errors, it is recommended to confirm the account type directly with the bank.”
So there you have it — the clue is in those bank codes. So always check.
Cats and lilies — a lethal combination
Did you know that a brush with a lily can kill a cat? I must confess I did not until recently. According to the US Food and Drug Administration: “A lily’s stem, leaves, flowers, pollen and even the water in a vase is toxic to cats.
“Eating just a small amount of a leaf or flower petal, licking a few pollen grains off its fur while grooming or drinking the water from the vase can cause your cat to develop fatal kidney failure in less than three days.”
Given that cats are known to jump onto tables and dressers and weave deftly between what’s on them, you’d expect bunches of lilies or bouquets which include lilies to carry very in-your-face warnings about this. An image of a cat with a red cross through it or the word danger emblazoned above it, for example. But I’ve never seen anything like that.
Woolworths carries a rather tame warning on the inside of its label for its specialist lilies, the last in a list of six pieces of “important information”: “Keep lilies away from your cats.”
Elizabeth Pretorius believes that’s not enough of a warning. It should be on the outside of the packaging, she says, “not inside with the care instructions, as most people do not read that as they know how to care for their flower purchases”.
Woolworths told me while its labelling includes a clear and prominent warning label, the company was “in the process of looking at improving this further”.
Here's a useful site to check which types of lilies are potentially toxic to your pet.
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