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Sue Opperman writes: In 2007, I bought a stand in Malboro from the close corporation of which I am a member. I followed the correct procedures such as paying the upfront deposit – the CC paid as the seller. As the buyer, I never received a new rates account, but as I still got the old one, paid it every month.
In 2010, I received a final notice from VVM Attorneys for rates not paid on an account number that I had never seen before. At the same time, I received an account with a credit balance of the same amount.
Obviously, the simple thing to do would be to transfer the one credit balance to the debit balance and start from there. Apparently not. I have spent more than two years trying to get my money back.
I have spent many unpleasant days – about five to six hours on each day – in Braamfontein trying to resolve the matter. You arrive and are given a reference number, then sit and wait with many other frustrated customers while the employees chat, have numerous tea and lunch breaks and check their e-mails. When you reach the counter, the consultant is either incapable or unwilling to help. In my case, I had at least six visits before they identified that all documents were in place and a refund had been approved. Each time they find some document is missing that is holding things up, but once it has been received, another document is necessary. My refund has been approved at last, but where is it?
While I was in the queue waiting to find out where my money is, another gentleman in front of me had the same problem. In this day where money is tight and wasting time a luxury, why can’t the council have a checklist of documents that you need before you get to see an incompetent employee? I realise we have to have sheltered employment, but surely someone must be able to draw up a checklist to make the walk-in centre more organised?
Perhaps you can get one of the employees to respond, because in the time that I’ve spent there, I have noticed that the complaints are easily categorised. It’s not a case of people having unique problems.
Opperman writes again: I have finally been paid. The transfer went through in 2007 and I was reimbursed one week ago. I was irritated to see another person about to go through the same process, but stopped him from the six-hour wait by telling him roughly what documents he would need. Why can’t the council do this, or is it a ploy? The council has earned interest on my money for five years.
Rhona Goldberg writes: I sold my property in January last year and registration took place on June 17 last year. Since July last year, I have been trying to get my municipal refund, which amounts to R12 335. I have been to the offices in Braamfontein numerous times and have dealt with many people. They assured me that my refund was ready to be processed because everything was in place. I have not received it. I feel that going back to the offices will just be another waste of time and therefore I am appealing for your help. The council has a copy of a cancelled cheque.
Goldberg writes again: I am so happy to report that I have received my refund from the City of Joburg and I would like to extend a huge thank you to you and your team. I don’t think this would have happened without your help. Thank goodness there are people such as yourself out there, people who really care.
Kate Hutchings of Kensington writes: Since August last year, my electricity bill has been about R13 000. In November 2010, I spent a morning at City Power, and the account was flagged until January last year. This meant, apparently, that City Power would take no action such as cutting off my power, and the problem would be addressed. Someone visited my home and verified that the meter reading that I had supplied was correct.
Since then, I have sent the meter reading monthly, usually with an appeal to help me with the correction of the account. But so far the bills are still incorrect, the interest is rising, and the threat of being cut off is printed on each account. The last bill, dated July last year, asks for an amount of almost R29 000.
I have been paying R1 800 regularly each month since August 2010. The last payment I made in July was about R2 300, according to the bill, but now the July bill requires R2 639. I have no idea what is a reasonable monthly sum. I know that there has been an increase, but cannot begin to calculate how much.
The root of the problem is that City Power has added 20 units to my consumption – the bill states that it starts reading at 97 190 784 and finishes at 98 190. My actual reading, which I have just checked, is 77 717. The bills before August 2010 do not record a meter reading.
I thought Metrowatch might be overwhelmed by requests, so have so far chosen to ignore the situation. I am always heartened to see that some people who have written to you have notified you that their problems have been sorted.
The amount is more than a month’s salary for me and even though I do not owe it, it bothers me. I will be grateful if you can help or advise me on what to do before my power is cut, or I am forced to pay money I do not owe.
Hutchings writes again: I have received a corrected billing statement from City Power, reflecting roughly a R7 000 credit and no debt. I am not sure which agency achieved this solution because I have been complaining far and wide, but I am extremely grateful for the correction. And for the fact that Metrowatch has been exerting pressure on City Power to correct the accounts. Thank you.