Short-term insurance – mainly car and household contents – is a fiercely competitive industry, with consumers being confronted with “pick us” adverts on TV, in magazines, on billboards and on the back of toilet doors in airports.
Low premiums are often the selling point, but if a low premium comes at the expense of patchy cover or an incredibly steep excess, that’s not a great deal, as many consumers have discovered when they make a claim.
Most of us have bought a product by mistake at some point, having mis-read the label: the wrong variant of a pack of biscuits, for example, or conditioner instead of shampoo. I certainly have – more than once.
What we’ve done is make an assumption, based on our previous exposure to the labelling of the product, or category of product we intended to buy.
If you seldom, if ever, go through your bank statement, line by line, consider this: Fraudulently acquired lists of consumers’ names, ID numbers, cellphone numbers and bank account details are apparently being traded in the marketplace. This is information that makes it easy for the ethically challenged to activate a debit order on your account, without your knowledge, much less your consent.
Every month South African banks process about 31 million debit orders, 0.4 percent – 120 000 – of which are disputed, according to the Payments Association of SA (Pasa).