Despite corporate promises and apologies, dodgy ‘deals’ keep happening

Image: 123RF/SIMPSON33

The more things, change, the more they stay the same.

I began my column of December 13 2020 with these words: “I always get worked up when I get cases about dodgy dealings or outright fraud, but I get particularly outraged when the victims are vulnerable elderly folk.”

I went on to tell the story of Germiston pensioner Zoe Mtwa, who, some eight months earlier, had been tricked into agreeing to a service she didn’t want or need, and had landed up “owing” MultiChoice R3,800 for it.

The debt was written off after my intervention and I was told that since that call to Mtwa, the third party marketing agency involved, On Air, had “made changes to their quality processes”, and the agent involved had been “removed from the business”.

Fast forward just over three years — last week, I received an email from state pensioner Mandisa Kanku, who also felt duped by an agent who had called her on behalf of MultiChoice.

She said the caller had told her that as she was a loyal subscriber, she had won an award of R50,000 which would be paid to her next-of-kin on her death.

Delighted to hear that, she supplied her next-of-kin’s details.

“My DStv was later cut off and when I asked why, I was told that I owed R500 in premiums for my life insurance policy,” she told me.

“My normal subscription is R130.

“I was then forced to pay the R500 to have my DStv reconnected. I never applied for, nor do I want life insurance.”

Mandisa had visited Multichoice’s offices to sort out the issue, but was told they couldn’t help her, telling her to call a number which was never answered.

She also emailed but got no help. 

“Please send an email to (the insurance department) or call them; we unfortunately cannot assist with the insurance issue,” was the response she got.

When she pushed back, saying MultiChoice had created the problem and should fix it, she was told: “Please note we do not have the resources to assist you; we have provided you with the email address on the insurance department that can help you.”

(This is outrageous in itself — that agent should have taken ownership of Kanku’s issue and contacted the relevant internal colleagues.)

That “help” department agent’s next paragraph read: “Thank you very much for your loyal continuous support, and we would appreciate if you could take part in the email survey to rate the level of service Simphiwe provided.”

One can only laugh. That’s when Kanku emailed me.

“Please help,” she said. “As a pensioner I can’t afford this.”

On taking up her case, the pay TV company confirmed that in 2021, NMS Insurance Services, a company wholly owned by MultiChoice, starting selling life insurance policies, “delivering accessible funeral and risk benefits to DStv customers”.

It was an agent from Cubix (Talksure), the third-party telesales company contracted by NMS, which called Kanku.

“Their agents undergo training, with calls recorded and monitored,” MultiChoice said.

“As soon as we became aware of Ms Kanku’s concerns, NMS investigated and reviewed the call, leading us to identify some discrepancies that do not align with our procedures and standards as a business.”

Don’t you love the way corporates avoid saying that customers were lied to?

Kanku’s policy has now been cancelled, of course, and the premiums “credited back to her account”.

“We extend our sincere apologies for the inconvenience caused. We have also escalated the issue to Cubix’s management team and appropriate actions will be taken following their internal investigation to prevent such occurrences in the future.

“We strive for continuous improvement in customer interactions and do not take this situation lightly.” 

Perhaps, but these dodgy things keep happening.

In 2022, a whole lot of DStv subscribers were alarmed to discover that they’d acquired Disney+ subscriptions without requesting them, supposedly as apart of a three-month free trial, the details of which had not been communicated to them.

Last week, the company billed multiple DStv subscribers for a Disney+ subscription (R139) without their knowledge or consent.

Many took to social media to complain, naturally, one of them claiming in an X post that she was told by a MultiChoice agent that “we had an internal sales promotion competition and some agents just added Disney+ subscriptions to client accounts without their knowledge or approval”.

The official response was that in September 2023, DStv and Disney+ provided a three-month complimentary access to qualifying DStv Rewards customers, and some customers were erroneously billed beyond the free period.

Those payments have been reversed, but let’s hope that’s the last we’ve heard of “free” Disney+ trials.

All very Mickey Mouse.


X (Twitter): @wendyknowler

Facebook: wendyknowlerconsumer


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