Joburg's debt agency 'sorry'

2011-02-03 08:30

Johannesburg - As 14 Gauteng mayors prepared to meet with the ruling party over billing problems on Thursday, the City of Johannesburg's debt collection agency apologised to consumers for erroneous accounts.

"We changed IT systems and got a new SMS system. About 100 residents got incorrect accounts. We have sent them SMSs of apology and have now rectified the system," Bernard van Rensburg, director of In-Quest, a debt collecting agency for the council, told The Star newspaper.

"It is our fault, and not the City of Joburg. It was our stupidity and we do apologise. It was an honest mistake."

He was reacting to a picture in the newspaper earlier this week of a consumer, Richard O' Flaherty, who had received an SMS stating he owed the city more than R200 000 000.

Van Rensburg said seeing the SMS was "one of the worst days of my life". It turned out the debt collector had confused his nine-digit account number with the amount owing.

The report came on the same day the ANC in Gauteng was scheduled to meet with 14 mayors to discuss potholes, billing and flood damage.

Last week, Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo said there was "no crisis" in billing for rates and utilities in the country's economic hub, drawing widespread criticism.

Many of the city's customers disagreed after receiving exorbitant bills they said did not reflect true consumption, and after unfair disconnections.

The opposition Democratic Alliance has given Masondo a "resounding fail" in a scorecard it drew up for him and his mayoral committee.

  • sa - 2011-02-03 08:44

    Surely the bill for 200 million was to be paid in Zim Dollars

  • bheki - 2011-02-03 09:40

    I wonder why we keep on making the same mistake every 5 years-Voting for incompetence. I have observed that potholes are being fixed because we nearing elections.

  • Grant - 2011-02-03 09:43

    just another ANC mess up. Lst week Mosondo had the nerve to tell us there is no problem. He is the problem and should move on.This will continue to happen as long as they place people in work who dont know what the hell is going on. thanks to all those BEE,AA & kcuf nuts nothing will ever get better. best they check who got the tender to do the IT.

  • Dayalan - 2011-02-03 09:44

    only 100 clients... where did they get those figures from... closer to thousands

  • Ken - 2011-02-03 09:45

    As usual. Local elections are coming so everything needs to be corrected to get the votes! Does anyone honestly believe that the ANC would be holding a meeting to correct things if there was no election coming?

  • DeonL - 2011-02-03 09:56

    Any Debt collection company get theire figures from the company that uses them. How can it be not the City of JHB mistake? They are propably afraid of losing the contract.

  • Mike - 2011-02-03 09:58

    I haven't had a bill for Water, Electricity or Rates in a year. And there is no one to talk to, what do I do ?

  • Cobus - 2011-02-03 09:59

    Hey Van Rensburg. Ever heard of the T-word? TRAINING? Sometimes it comes disguised as PT, PROPER TRAINING?

  • Furious - 2011-02-03 10:07

    Something is seriously wrong in the Ekurhuleni counsil! Most of the people in our neighbourhood, including us, got disconnected in the last couple of months. We make arrangements, email our readings EVERY month but it does not get updated. We keep on getting INCORRECT accounts with interim readings! I am fed-up! We now have to keep on paying and make arrangements but our bills keep on inflating, and interest gets added onto incorrect readings, and we get billed for the disconnections, even if arrangements have been made! It just gets worse and worse everymonth. Maybe they should employ people who can actually do their jobs and fix this mess!

  • Dion - 2011-02-03 10:17

    Oh please!!! Yes, the debt collectors might have made a mistake with their sms, but JHB city's accounts are a total mess and they cannot pass the buck and blame everyone else. They must take responsibility and clean up their own mess first!

  • South African - 2011-02-03 11:01

    The current ruling elite and those behind the scenes of the ANC where only ever interested in power and wealth. Nothing new here. ANC = FAIL

  • La Volpe - 2011-02-03 11:06

    No in two hundred million lead bullets.

  • yogan - 2011-02-03 11:08

    @sa yup we are at Zims Doorstep

  • JS - 2011-02-03 11:19

    This is very simple. Every person in denial of a problem is clearly incompetent/unable to identify the problem, let alone, to rectify it, thus, he/she should be fired on the spot to get someone capable to do the job and get our country moving in the right direction again.

  • olivia - 2011-02-03 11:24

    the really interesting part of this story, not picked up upon, are the men who cut off your electricity for the unpaid incorrect bills. People are paying some of the accounts (obviously those in a more achievable price range) just to keep their power on - or they are bribing the unscrupulous technicians.

  • thandi - 2011-02-03 11:29

    I have a water bill of R75000 just for 7months because the estemated meter readings where's my actuall reading is between R380-R410. You go there they give endless reference no's and nothing is being done. It clearly shows that your so called new system doesnt work.

  • Morgan - 2011-02-03 11:43

    I have been receiving a credit water bill for the last year and I know that it is incorrect as I have a pool that gets maintained on a weekly basis and a huge garden that gets watered on a regular basis (not when it rains though). I have not bothered to phone them because it is a complete waiste of time so I just keep paying monthly so when they do wake-up I won't be owing them millions!!!

  • Bruno - 2011-02-03 13:09

    Even after pointing out their errors to them they do absolutely nothing to rectify the problem. They hide their shambolic chaos behind the threat of cut-off's expecting everyone to pay and keep quiet. I have not paid and will not keep quiet. Please remove these incompetent fools from their "jobs" in the next municipal election. We as residents, and not the ANC, need to appoint our own competent city officials....

  • Yam - 2011-02-03 13:31

    Come live in Cape Town. I got a water leak under our driveway repaired today within three days. We were worried they were going to tell us its our problem to fix because the leak was above the meter. And they told me I'll get a rebate on the water wasted because my call was logged when i first called. Now that's service - everyone I spoke to from the agents at the call centre to the guys who came to do the work were informed, friendly and efficient. Tomorrow they're coming back to repair the small damage to the driveway paving.

  • Rate Payer - 2011-02-03 13:34

    I have not received a bill in three months. I have phoned the helpline a number of times and I often hang up after 45min of waiting. The credit department has not answered once on over 40 calls. My mayor says there is no crisis, so either there is not one or he is lying.

  • john - 2011-02-03 14:01

    It is one thing for a debt collector to make an "honest" mistake. But did this person really think that an individual had an electricity bill of over R2million? What kind of people is this organisation employing?

  • Andrew - 2011-02-03 14:32

    I keep getting bills on old meter numbers we dont have anymore. Got a bill last week for R85000 on the old meters. But I dont think they have a billing crisis. lMFAO

  • what can we say - 2011-02-03 14:58

    The issue is that due to BEE to many incompetent people are employed especially in parastatals and local govt. They have no idea what they are doing and even though they try they are totally out of there depth!!!!!TIA(This is Africa)

  • Singularity - 2011-02-03 16:07

    The debt agency publicly acknowledge that they are stupid and they have not been booted out? Only in Africa...

  • andrew van Vuuren - 2011-02-03 22:10

    Last year this time we offered the city of JHB our Hawkeye Technology to scan their system in order to determine the number of double billing and code violations. We were shown the door as we did not fit their "profile" perhaps they will listen now?

  • Mosso - 2011-02-03 23:01

    In my estate you hardly ever see municipality personnel coming in to read your meter and yet at the end of the month you get your nicely averaged bill. In december i was away the entire month but i was suprised to see my bill higher than when i was at home.

  • Sagree - 2011-02-04 11:47

    Do the contracted meter readers take a reading? I I have been battling for 3 yrs now to correct my bill, my water meter which is outside my property was replaced and still no refund for incorrect billing, not even sure the electricity reading is taken correctly - usual excuse, interim reading -Why do honest people who pay their bills never win - there are SO many people out there living off "STOLEN" electricity and thats ok. Remove incompetent staff and replace with educated people!Stop passing the buck - the Ekurhuleni municipality needs a shake up - and we need to start by voting for a party who can listen to the people who are victims because they morally intune.

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