Victims fume over ‘con artist’

Teresa Howes says she was led to believe she was getting a new air-conditioning unit.

A West Beach woman has accused a northern suburbs businessman of putting the con into the aircon business.

Several other allegations of dodgy business dealings by the man have surfaced.

Teresa Howes says Arno Southey, of ASG Air Conditioning, in Parow, installed a faulty second-hand air conditioner in her home and assured her in a WhatsApp message it was new.

She sent Northern News a screengrab of the message from “Arno Aircon” that reads: “nee dis ni * used aircon (sic)”.

Northern News also has a copy of a Small Claims Court letter of demand Ms Howes said she would send Mr Southey for the R5 000 she said she had paid him.

“He quoted me R5 000 for the whole job, including the materials and installation. When he came to install the unit, my 76-year-old mother-in-law was home, and he convinced her that he can’t do the installation without being paid the full amount first,” said Ms Howes.

She said her mother-in-law had given him the money and he had had two men install the aircon.

But when she returned home, she had found it was a second-hand unit… and it wasn’t working.

She had then battled to get Mr Southey to come out and have a look at the job.

“At first, all I wanted was for him to come and sort it out because I need for it to work. I am a cancer survivor, and I get very hot, so this will go a long way in helping,” she said.

The police, she said, had told her they couldn’t do anything as she had no written quote from Mr Southey and her WhatsApp correspondence with him wasn’t enough to go on.

When Ms Howes did an internet search she found several other people had had unhappy dealings with Mr Southey.

Selwyn Bartlett, freelance radio DJ at Good Hope FM, is one of them.

“In August of last year, I hired out my sound system to Mr Southey when he contacted me about an advert I had placed on Gumtree. He was supposed to use it for one day, but he told me that he would need it the following week as well, so I told him he could keep it until then. The following week came and it has been excuse after excuse since then,” said Mr Bartlett.

The equipment, he said, was worth R50 000, but he had been told by the police he couldn’t open a criminal case as it was a civil matter.

Mr Bartlett said he had sent a letter of demand to Mr Southey last year hoping to get his goods back.

In Kraaifontein, Marius Geldenhuys said he was left fuming when Mr Southey allegedly took off with his money and car keys in July last year.

“I contacted him because I saw an advert on Facebook saying that he customises cars. I have an antique car and wanted it to be customised. He came and said I should give him R4 600 cash up front and that someone would come and take the car into the shop the next day,” said Mr Geldenhuys.

Mr Southey had taken gauges from his car as well as the keys to the vehicle, but he had not brought them back.

Mr Southey, he claimed, had given him one excuse after another about why he couldn’t pay back his money, including that he had a problem with his bank account.

Mr Geldenhuys said he had opened a theft case against Mr Southey at the Kraaifontein police station, in August, but Tabletalk was unable to confirm that with the police by the time this edition went to print.

Tabletalk battled for a week to get hold of Mr Southey as he has several phone numbers. Eventually, when we did reach him, he said he was only prepared to answer questions by email.

“Firstly we did told Theresa we will fix it. You see they post all over social media I am a con artist. My attorneys did laugh. I have a registered business. We had specials of R5000 [which were] used units (sic),” he wrote in his reply to our questions about Ms Howes’s case.

“We did service it all and make it full of gas.” He claimed that out of 10 installations they had done, only Ms Howes was unhappy.

And what about Mr Barlett’s accusations, we asked.

“Selwyn ignored my calls and my emails in an attempt to get him his equipment. I told him that I would take his stuff to the police station and he must get it there,” said Mr Southey.

Mr Bartlett said that there was no need for Mr Southey to take his equipment to the police station.

“He picked up the stuff at my house, and he even knows where my parents live, so he can always drop off the goods. The reason why I blocked him was that he becomes very abusive over the phone and quite frankly, I have had enough,” he said.

Mr Southey claimed he didn’t know Mr Geldenhuys.

He denied that he was con artist, saying: “Con artists will use fake names and numbers. I don’t. This name slandering will go to court. They will lose.”

Meanwhile, one of Mr Southey’s contractors claimed he had not been paid.

The man said he did not want his name published because Mr Southey had threatened him and his family.

“Since I started working for him, he hasn’t paid me. I have since left his employment, but now I find it difficult to get other jobs because I am associated with him and his shoddy work. I have met a lot of clients that complain about him and the condition of the units he asked us to install,” he said.

Mr Southey responded to these accusations, saying simply: “All my guys get paid.”