Long road claiming from travel insurance

CJ Nikiforos waited nearly two years for Absa travel insurance to settle a claim of R840 for his wife’s sunglasses which she lost when they were overseas.

“I bought travel insurance from Absa on March 9 (2015) covering my wife’s luggage in addition to separate cover for my own, over and above personal risks cover,” the Kenridge resident said.

“While we were overseas, my wife lost a pair of sunglasses, valued at R840. On our return home, she submitted a claim on August 4 (2015), when Absa gave us a reference number. After repeated calls for information about the claim, in October (2015), and on February 10 (2016), we received an email the next day, from Gerald Govender at Europ Assistance, six months after we submitted the claim and he told me the claim had been approved for R750,” Mr Nikiforos said.

Mr Govender asked for a copy of the top portion of Mr Nikiforos’s bank statement. “I sent it to him on February 16 although I had emailed a copy on August 7 (2015).

”Again a long silence followed, and on March 29 I phoned Absa’s insurance department, and although I was told they would look into the matter, nothing further was heard. On April 1 and on April 20, I again emailed Absa asking them for a response.

“In desperation, I wrote to Hello Peter on February 4 (2017), and received a response from a Claudette (from Absa) requesting my personal information: ID and Absa account number. I supplied the required information on February 6. I then received another request to send my personal information as a private message to Claudette. I did so, again. Still no result, but with every query since, another request for my personal information was being asked for. At this point I realised that, contrary to Absa’s warning, my security was being put at risk,” said Mr Nikiforos, who noted that it was now a year and eight months since he submitted his claim.

“Please can you help to bring this exhausting and time-consuming matter to finalisation.”

Well, it wasn’t that difficult. According to Absa, it was an oversight and Mr Nikiforos has his money.

“We regret Mr Nikiforos’s experience. This is not in line with Absa’s standards and values and we apologise for the inconvenience.

“A detailed investigation showed that the payment was not processed due to an administrative oversight. The agent, Europ Assistance, has been in contact with the client to apologise. The R750 refund has been processed and immediate payment made to Mr Nikiforos,” said Absa, who added “they will review their internal and supplier processes to avoid this happening again”.

And what did Mr Nikiforos, who apparently works for a child evangelical ministry, have to say? Nada. Nothing. Not even an acknowledgement that his claim had been paid.

Edcon’s club fee ‘unlawful’

The National Consumer Tribunal said the club fee charged by Edcon to its credit customers is unlawful and in contravention of the National Credit Act (NCA).

This judgment comes after an investigation by the National Credit Regulator (NCR) showed that Edcon has charged consumers a club fee on credit agreements (“Anger over new Edgars service fee”, Off My Trolley, November 23 2016).

“The charging of a club fee on credit agreements is not permitted by the NCA,” said Jacqueline Peters, manager of investigations and enforcement at the NCR.

The tribunal said the intention of the NCA is very clear when it relates to credit agreements. The NCA does not allow for any other fees or charges or costs to be included in the credit agreement or credit agreement documents, irrespective of the nature of the charge, fee or cost.

“This judgment provides clarity to the retailers that they should observe the closed list of fees and charges provided for in the NCA. Consumers are urged to request the quotation from their credit providers so that they can properly check the cost of credit that is being offered,” said Ms Peters.

The NCR will ask Edcon to request an independent audit of their loan book to establish the number of consumers to be refunded and the total amount to be refunded from 2007 until now.

The tribunal will hear argument on the amount of the administrative fine, at a date yet to be determined. Edcon did not respond to a request for comment.