Friday, 1 February 2013

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I am a high benefit member of a medical aid scheme. Last year I was very ill, resulting from a condition that had not responded to antibiotics I was using from private pharmacies. This led me to being admitted to hospital for almost two weeks. As usual I had to pay about P5,000 as a deposit and when being discharged another P5,000 and the rest of the bill which was about P40,000 was to be paid by my medical aid.

Months later, the hospital credit controller contacted me saying that I owe them about P10,000. I have repeatedly told the credit control department to send me an itemized bill of what my medical aid paid and the P10,000 I had paid but they have never done so. Instead they contacted a debt collector. It is not that I cannot pay but I just want the credit controller to tell me which items they want me to pay for so I may ask my medical aid why they did not pay. If I pay the debt they are demanding it will be like footing half the bill which should not be the case as a high benefit member of the medical aid.

I will be grateful if you advised me the way forwards!

I hate hospital credit control departments, I really do. I think everyone has had problems like yours in the past, although perhaps not as expensive. This is complicated by the three different relationships that exist in this situation. You and the hospital, you and the medical aid and the hospital and the medical aid. It seems in this case all three relationships are broken. The most important one to repair is between you and the hospital. They are, after all, the ones sending debt collectors after you.

I suggest that you write them a strongly worded letter, addressed to their Managing Director, stating that you cannot be expected to pay a debt when they cannot prove what that debt is for. Demand a full statement of your account, including every item they think should be paid for. Remind them that a debt that cannot be proved to exist doesn’t exist. Make sure you copy the letter to the debt collectors as well. It’s worth calling the debt collectors as well to say that you are formally disputing the debt.

You should then contact your medical aid company (the MD again) and insist that they intervene and help sort this out. Remind them, in case they’ve forgotten, that you pay them lots of money so that this sort of thing doesn’t happen.

We’ll also get in touch with the hospital and suggest they fix this.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

A family friend referred me to a lady who goes to China to buy building material for people as a business. Unfortunately the moment she has taken the fee she charges and your money to buy building material she doesn't care about giving you good service.

Before the material arrived I paid her for shipping and duty charges amounting to P15,000 on top of the amount for purchase. She never gave me the receipt and failed to give me a detailed account of how she arrived to that amount. She sends me from pillar to post when I tell her to come and sort my materials and balance them with receipts. The tiles were short, broken, bathtubs very small, doors too big. Moreover, she took the lights back last year November saying that they belong to someone else but never brought mine. I have been trying in vain to make her sort out these problems but she becomes very arrogant and doesn’t want to solve problems she caused. She also took a lot of money from my sister-in-law and cheated her also. Please help because I have spent a lot of money to buy materials which I have to replace.

I know it’s too late to say this but this is the risk you run when buying things from overseas. At least when you buy things here or somewhere close like South Africa you can go and inspect the goods yourself before you pay. You can also easily complain if things go wrong. When you deal with suppliers in China you don’t have that luxury. When you deal with unscrupulous people like this lady it only gets worse.

If you send us her details we’ll get in touch and remind her that she has obligations. Does she operate a company or does she just do these things in her personal capacity? Either way I wonder if she’s telling BURS about the money she’s making and paying tax on her earnings? Maybe I should remind her about that? I’ll let you know what she says.


The staff in the bakery at Pick N Pay Molapo Crossing for being extra-friendly.

Keep the celebrations coming in!

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