Double payment a knotty problem for client

“My Absa account was credited with R2 110 twice and the R4 144.04 was debited to my personal loan leaving me with R72.30 for two months,” the Muizenberg woman said.

“I went to Absa in Plumstead where I was sent from one person to the next and each one told me a different story. Eventually a consultant put me through to an agent who told me yet another story and then said I needed to talk to Absa’s lawyers. But a voice message said they were closed due to Covid-19 and would only reopen on level 1,” said Ms Mort.

She then went to Absa at Longbeach Mall in Sun Valley where a consultant again put her through to an 0861 number.

“The call lasted 60 minutes and I spoke to five people. The last person said he would reverse the debit for the personal loan of R4 144.04 and send one payment of R2 110 back to Sassa.

“When my Sassa grant did not appear in my account I went back to Absa at Longbeach Mall where the client services agent printed a bank statement which showed that the agent did not reverse the R4 144.04 but instead passed a journal credit to my account for R2 110.

“Client services at Longbeach Mall was unable to help me. She took me to a desk, dialled a number but the person I spoke to couldn’t help either. When I asked to speak to a manager she said they could not to come to her desk because of social distancing and they don’t have a a direct line. So it is impossible to speak to a manager. On her advice I emailed and asked when I could expect this issue to be resolved?,” said Ms Mort, who also completed an insurance form for her loan as she was unable to repay it.

Sibulele Nkele processed the credit life claim so Ms Mort also asked why it had not yet been paid out. There was no response.

Tejal Desai from Absa headquarters, confirmed the account was in arrears when Ms Mort applied for payment relief.

“Numerous attempts to contact Ms Mort telephonically failed. However, we have reviewed her circumstances, performed a loan restructure and placed her on Absa’s payment relief programme to provide cash-flow assistance. With the account going into arrears and no repayment arrangements in place, the credit life insurance was cancelled but it has been reinstated. We have reached out to the customer to apologise and clarify the steps we have taken to remedy the situation,” Mr Desai said.

In plain English, because Ms Mort was in arrears with her personal loan the insurance premium fell by the wayside. So I don’t know why Ms Nkele even completed the form.

Ms Mort wasn’t satisfied with Absa’s reply.

“They have never tried to contact me. They did not address the problem in May and they did not do what they said they would do. They also do not refer to the insurance claim (credit life is insurance). Nor do they refer to the appalling service. I don’t believe they have done what they told you they would do. They apologised to you but not to me. They have not told me of any restructuring of the loan. I am still in the dark about paying it off.

“I went to Absa and found that they did reverse the balance of the deduction. I received an email a few days ago. Print what you will. I do know that they did tell you a different story to what I have been told. They also told me a different story when I went there. I would never have got the refund without your help. I really appreciate it,” Ms Mort said.

I told Absa that Ms Mort wasn’t happy with their explanation. Absa said they tried to contact Ms Mort telephonically on numerous occasions as well as via SMS.

“Unfortunately she is not taking our calls to discuss her claim. We will keep trying and will revert to you when we have spoken to her.”

I told Ms Mort if she didn’t want to talk to Absa then it was her problem.

About 30 minutes later, Dushen Naidoo, said they finally spoke to Ms Mort but she was unable to provide Absa Life with evidence to support her claim for loss of income.

“Our investigation did not indicate loss of income. Under the retrenchment or loss of income definition for her credit life policy, we are obliged to verify the information provided to us. This is an essential part of the process and unless it is proven, the claim will be repudiated. If we are provided with proof of loss of income we will reconsider the claim,” Mr Naidoo said.

Later Absa told me: “Our team did contact her but she refused to have the conversation as she wanted to discuss her credit life claim. They are still happy to have the conversation with Ms Mort and find the best payment solution for her if she so desires.”

Now it’s up to Ms Mort. Life is full of compromises and sometimes you have to bend, even if it’s only a little.