There was a time when the manufacturers of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods, commonly referred to as “junk food”, could happily punt them to children using cartoon characters, celebrities, gifts and the like.
The saga now commonly referred to as “the six-nine-nine cars” is far from over, and I’m busy investigating a few humdinger cases involving grossly inaccurate information on credit application forms, and a car sold as new when its registration history says otherwise.
But here’s a story of someone who thought he had a good credit record but could not get a bank to finance a used car.
At 1.30 on Friday morning, I got an SMS from the man at the centre of the “New car for R699 a month” saga, Albert Venter, chief executive of the Satinsky Group and the mastermind of the deal that saw people being paid for advertising – mostly for the deal itself – on the back of their new cars.
That is until last week, when their worst fears were confirmed – the fees dried up altogether.
There’s nothing quite like a lawyer’s letter to terrify the average consumer into paying up. But a legal process is a fairly costly route for a company, which is why some have been known to resort to making their debtors think attorneys are involve when they are actually not.
Wonga in the UK – described by the media in that country as a “payday loan giant” – went that route in a big way a few years ago. It has paid dearly for it: £2.6 million (R47m) in fact.
Dozens of people have responded to last week’s Consumer Watch column on the “New car from R699 per month” deal, most of them owners of those branded cars, who have in recent months also received a drastically reduced “advertising fee”, for no apparent reason and with no consultation.
But the Satinsky Group of Companies – which masterminded the deal whereby their clients’ monthly car repayments are subsidised by carrying advertising on their cars’ back windows – will not be drawn on that issue at all, instead accusing some clients of making “fraudulent representations”.