Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What a Rip Off!

I am so tired of being ripped off. Is it related to the state of the world economy, as is the latest excuse, or is the economic crisis the result of the greed that's become part and parcel of life in the twenty first century. Whichever, I am sick of it; maybe it's time to name and shame. Let me give you a few examples:

eThekwini Municipality
In line with the new rates model applied throughout SA as of 1 July '08, eThekwini opted for the highest randage in SA; 0,9 cents/rand based on their property valuation. This valuation was made by a bunch of beauracrats without leaving their office! In March '08 I filed an objection, as their value for my property was way higher than any local estate agent's quote; last week I received notification that it had been received, but was still under investigation. The result: a rates increase of 163%. What a rip-off!

Standard Bank
Bank charges are notoriously high in SA, but I have always accepted this as purely the cost of local banking. However, after 18 months of no charges on a particular account which is currently dormant (R0 balance), a monthly admin charge of R42 has suddenly been applied, without any option or even notification. Why? Apparently the charge is for keeping a line of credit open to me. What? I have no idea; only that I am being ripped off again.

Discovery Health
Discovery have a wonderful benefit scheme called Vitality. One of the benefits is memebership to the Virgin Active gym. The only requirement is to visit at least 24 times a year. I like to spin at the gym in the winter months, when it is too cold and dark to train on the road. Today I was refused entry because apparently I have only been 23 times from April - March. I knew of the rule, and have actually been quite careful to ensure I complied, but their records show I only clocked in twice this year. I know I have been several times more than that, but what can I do? Apparently I can pay R850 to re-register, or I can give up gym. Once again I feel like I'm being ripped off.

La Lucia Junior Primary
School fees increased from R11,850 p.a.in '08 to R15,000 p.a. in '09. An increase of 26.5%. Why? No explanation! Just a warning of the consequences of not paying. This on top of the expectation to assist with their fund raising efforts. An example: each kid brings a cake to school, then has to pay R5 to get a slice! More? The kids work on an art project, and the parents have to pay R50+ at an auction for the resulatant painting. That's blackmail - how can you tell your kid you're not going to buy his work of art? Maybe all schools are the same these days, but again, I feel like I'm being ripped off.

What really gets to me in all the cases above is how helpless I am. Want to query something, or complain, or ask for some dispensation? Try speaking to someone in a call centre, that in most cases doesn't even understand the business of the company they're representing. Seriously, does anyone ever get any satisfaction talking to a call centre? There are no options; if you don't like it, go and get ripped off somewhere else. I'm sick of it!

Thanks for reading.