Dorothy Vels bought a personal safety alert system from AidCall, which allows you to call for help “24 hours a day” in case of an emergency.
They are available as wireless devices or analogue and can be operated from a landline. Ms Vels, 87, said it cost R5 700 as well as a monthly subscription of R249.
Three months after she bought it, it started giving trouble so AidCall sent two technicians and when they couldn’t solve the problem she asked for a more senior person, who was later identified as Werner Botha, national sales manager, who deals with AidCall queries.
“Mr Botha opened the device and after staring into the box he said he couldn’t do anything as it was full of ants which must have come from the garden. He put the box in the garage and I kept looking for the ants. But there was no sign that any had been there. A call centre agent contacted me because AidCall had not heard from me through the alert system for a while and wanted to know why. She suggested I contact AidCall. I did twice but they didn’t come back to me,” the Blouberg woman said.
Mr Botha said they have been providing their products, mainly to the elderly, for a decade while the AidCall service has been running 24/7 for the past four years.
“When Ms Vel’s unit was installed on May 23 (last year) we tested it twice and she used it 11 times between May 27 and July 17 (2018). So it’s clear that an ant infestation occurred sometime after July 17. We did some trouble-shooting telephonically and it’s an analogue unit and the landline may have been down. That wasn’t the case so I went to her house. The device was set up on the kitchen counter next to her landline. When I opened the unit it was infested by hundreds of little black ants, probably seeking warmth, and they were carrying pieces of food and making a nest in the device,” Mr Botha said.
AidCall have had a few instances of ant infestation in their units.
“Ms Vels thought I should take the device away. However, I suggested that she cleans it and sends it back to us so that we can give her a quote to repair it and replace the circuit board. Although the circuit board has been damaged beyond repair by now, we would be able to replace it completely. Understandably, Ms Vels was upset. I suggested she contact her kids to try to assist or even ask a close friend and then make contact with us.
We contacted Ms Vels again in August (2019) and offered to collect the unit and our expense, and then replace the circuit board at no charge, but she declined the offer,” said Mr Botha.
“At the time, I didn’t show the ant to Mr Vels as it would not change the fact that her unit is not dialling through due to the infestation. I recently received another complaint about an ants-infested unit where we will quote the client for replacing the circuit board and for repairs. Once accepted, the unit will be repaired and sent back to them,” Mr Botha said.
Ms Vels said AidCall contacted her on August 20 (this year) and offered to collect the device to get it working.
“But I refused and said I wanted my money back. Werner (Mr Botha) told me almost a year ago there was nothing they could do,” Ms Vels said.
“How can we make Ms Vels happy?” Mr Botha wanted to know.
I don’t tell people how to run their businesses but I suggested he pay Ms Vels the amount it would cost to replace the ant-damaged circuit board.
AidCall gave Ms Vels R2 as compensation.
Ms Vels said AidCall emailed her a document setting out, in legal terms, what they required of her, before they would release the R2 000.
“I signed it and returned it. The money was deposited in my account. Thank you. I’m very grateful for the support and the guidance you have given.
The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) is ready to receive claims for parental benefits, said Bernard Reisner of Cape Labour and Industrial Consultants, Gardens.
According to Mr Reisner, the UIF Commissioner, Teboho Maruping, said the fund would provide the necessary financial relief to UIF contributors so they can spend time bonding and caring for their new child.
“We have finalised the new forms and our systems have been upgraded to enable us to process the claims,” Mr Maruping said.
The UIF has already started processing claims for the new parental benefits to contributing and qualifying UIF beneficiaries.
Qualifying UIF contributors can visit any labour centre. Applicants need an identity document, birth certificate of the child with full details of parents and details of a valid bank account.
The provisions regarding parental leave should be included as an addendum in the current contracts of employment, according to Mr Reisner.
The parental leave clause states if the employee is a parent to a child, they are entitled to 10 consecutive days’ parental leave commencing from the day on which the child is born; or the date on which the adoptive order is granted, or the child is placed in their care, as an adoptive parent, by a competent court. The employee must notify the company in writing, unless they are unable to do so, of the date on which they intend taking parental leave and the date on which they intend returning to work. The employee must give notice to the company at least four weeks before they intend taking parental leave and/or otherwise as soon as is reasonably possible.
If the employee is a commissioning parent or adopting a child, they will have the rights, entitlements and obligations outlined in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA)
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