Big bill after wrong account debited

Johan Combrink was a satisfied Vodacom client with a debit order for 10 years.

Until a few months ago when he received a final demand for outstanding payments and then an SMS claiming he owed the cellphone giant R3 265.07.

“I have tried to find a solution but have run into solid walls with little progress. Numerous visits to the Vodacom shop in Bayside Mall and the building department at Century City only led to more frustration. They told me to call 082 1946 which was equally frustrating as nobody appeared to be interested in my case. They only wanted their money,” the Table View resident said.

“Eventually, I spoke to Sibongile Jimlovo at the national billing department who was a tremendous help,” Mr Combrink said.

But she didn’t have much success in resolving the issue.

Absa told Mr Combrink that he didn’t have a debit order.

“Vodacom claimed that the debit order was from FNB but I have never banked with them in my life. The only conclusion was that someone at Vodacom changed my banking details without my knowledge or approval. So, for more that a year, Vodacom got their money but not from me. I was not worried: Vodacom got their money every month. I am not an accountant but a scientist so I did not verify that the money was being deducted from my account.

At the billing department at Century City they told me R3 000+ was transferred to my Vodacom account (whatever that means) but nothing was paid into my Absa account. However, Vodacom insisted that I owed the money and must pay it back within five days. I don’t owe Vodacom that amount. Besides, as a pensioner, I do not have that kind of money.

Subsequently Vodacom agreed to a R300 monthly payment but two months later my service was cancelled. Enquiries only elicited the chant ‘Pay back the money’,” Mr Combrink said.  

Yep, Julius Malema has a lot to answer for. I wonder if the Commander-in-Chief of the EFF can sue Vodacom for breach of copyrights?

But back to Mr Combrink: “I consider myself a law-abiding citizen who pays what he owes. Besides if one suffers from hypertension, like I do, this is the last thing you need. The original contract was that I pay a certain amount of money every month and receive particular service from Vodacom (cellphone and internet). I suppose the next thing to expect is a demand to pay what I owe on a non-existent contract.”

What was Vodacom’s explanation? A  call centre agent told Mr Combrink that the arrears amounts have been written off and an amount of R2 140.30 excluding VAT has been processed on his account which will reflect within seven days.

“The amount will work against all the arrears amount and you will need to make payments for what has been invoiced or outstanding going forward (sic) and your account has been unlocked and it should be placed on the dispute list until the credit reflects.”

That clears that up. But what really happened?

“Our investigation shows that we loaded the incorrect banking (details) when the contract was signed. We have since rectified the matter and loaded the correct banking details. As a gesture of goodwill, we have written off all the arrears amounts.

The customer will only be invoiced for the new account, nothing in arrears. We have apologised to the customer for the inconvenience caused. Customer is happy with the resolution (sic),” Vodacom said.

TV licence not so easy to pay

When Alistair Cross received a notification from a company, MBD, he had not heard of before, about paying his 88-year-old mother’s TV licence with penalties (R125.80), he phoned the police’s fraud line to report it. But it was not working.

“I then phoned SABC and the operator, Lenard, confirmed that my mother’s account had been handed to MBD for collection, however, I should pay the R125.80, to SABC, using her ID number as a reference. SABC, would sort it out with MBD. That was odd,” said the Hout Bay man.

His mother, Rosemary, is in a frail care centre in Meadowridge and didn’t receive any invoice or notification from the SABC.

“I paid the money into the SABC FNB account and sent proof of payment to MBD and the SABC. However, we are still being harassed by MBD and the amount is increasing by the month. Ironically my blind father-in-law, 81, is told that his bill has been paid in full even though he has never made a payment. I would like to pay her 2019 licence, however, this will probably also go astray. Could you please look into this.”

It didn’t take long for the SABC to respond. “Your payment has been allocated with the information (proof) you have provided. I have stopped the action from our service provider (MBD) to cease all communication with the licence holder, since the account is now paid up to date,” the audience liaison officer told Mr Cross.

The officer explained that a licence holder requires a TV licence account number or Easypay number when making payments.

“Our system does not recognise ID or any other numbers as a reference number , but you must provide your TV licence account or Easypay number when making payment. But if you are making enquiries we need a copy of your TV licence or ID number. We also need proof of payment to allocate the amount such as in your case,” he said, and gave Mr Cross a statement in the name of Mrs RA Cross, pointing out that the licence expires at the end of January and the renewal fee is R66.80.