The theme of this year’s World Consumer Rights Day over the weekend was “Fix our phone rights” – a cause that resonates with many South African consumers, if my inbox is anything to go by.
And the campaign – by Consumers International (see box) – wasn’t a one-day wonder, but the launch of a consumer agenda for fair cellphone services worldwide, including access to a reliable service, the security of our data, and fair contracts and billing – the issues most affecting consumers.
No one has the right to arbitrarily demand that you pay for something without substantiating how they arrived at that amount.
Debt collectors, for example, notoriously contact alleged debtors and demand that they pay relatively large sums to settle an often old, prescribed debt, and then put the onus on them to prove they don’t owe the money, when in fact it’s the other way around – the collector should be asked to produce documentation showing how the amount being claimed was arrived at.
The first thing I asked Durban personal assistant Sue Gardner when she told me that fraudsters had whipped almost R20 000 out of her bank account was: “Do you remember clicking on a link in an e-mail that you thought was sent by your bank?”
It’s the question I ask all those who approach me about the same predicament.
Imagine being smitten by a new car, signing an offer to buy it, paying a deposit, then being told seven months later that you’re still on the waiting list, and by the way, the same car is now about R50 000 more expensive.
That’s what’s happened to many who signed for the new A-Class Mercedes-Benz, thanks to the dramatically depreciating rand.