File photo: Karen Sandison

Johannesburg - Thousands of Joburg residents have been receiving SMSes from the City of Joburg telling them they are in arrears, when, in fact, they are not. And the city has admitted it was a mistake.

Many residents complained on the Blairgowrie residents’ Facebook page:

Clive Levy said: “Chatted to a shirty lady who told me it was an error. I said ok, but pressed her to check my account, which a recording said had not been paid. She eventually came back and confirmed that it had been paid and (she) hung up before I could thank her. Service with a grunt! Gotta laugh…”

Gill Gardener said: “I got one too. Phoned and held on for ages and the call kept cutting off. And I’m away now. Very frustrating. Paid on the 27th.”

Another resident, Samantha Lawrence, said: “My hubby says they sent out a bulk SMS, and when he finally got through to the call centre, they said that we were in credit of a whole 7 cents… probably cost them more to send the SMS out than it was actually worth…”


The city’s revenue shared services centre apologised.

“Some customers are, in fact, not in arrears and affected customers have been informed of the error via a follow-up SMS. SMS sending is part of the city’s credit control processes and has been ongoing since 2012.

“However, in this instance an incorrect file was uploaded consisting of accounts which were not in arrears, therefore resulting in incorrect SMSes sent. Customers whose accounts are up to date should ignore the SMS and need not contact the city. The city would like to once again apologise for the inconvenience caused by this unfortunate incident,” said revenue shared services spokeswoman Selma Lloyd.

DA councillor Tim Truluck said: “Sending out incorrect SMSes like these adds to the stress levels of ordinary residents who live in fear of falling foul of the City of Joburg’s dreaded billing system.”

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The Star