Tsk Tsk Tshwane

Yesterday was one of those days where I started off on a mission to change the world, or at very least, a local government’s slight billing oversight (saving myself some hard-earned Rands). Our August bill from Tshwane Municipality had failed to arrive on time and I naturally assumed that the postman was running late with our mail – on African time so to speak. This is very similar in nature to the ‘mañana mindset’ exhibited by the Spanish, however our delay was more than likely due to the postman fondling the bill letter in order to establish if there was anything inside worth stealing. The postal service here is much hit and miss.

The previous day my wife had received a text message from Tshwane helpfully informing her that our utility bill payment was overdue and R5000 should mosey on down into their bank account by the end of the month (or else!) I was surprised by the efficiency of the Municipality’s debt collection systems and firm embrace of modern-day technology. They obviously didn’t like to mess around when it came to money, especially considering the ongoing municipal workers’ strike and exorbitant union wage demands. Metaphorically, I suppose they had to get all their ducks in a row to magically pull the white rabbit out of the hat.

An electronic copy of our latest statement was emailed through to us so that we could see why our bill was 40% higher than our usual budgeted amount. A line item appearing as ‘Financial Charges adjustment’ was the dastardly culprit and clearly in addition to the normal property taxes/rates. I could not think that such a large amount was admin related? The adjustment item was comprised of two sequential adjustments of R30 and R2020, a day apart. Hmmmm….something fishy methinks.

I phoned the customer services line and after being on hold for 20 minutes due to (yes, you guessed it) the ongoing union strike, I finally spoke with a services consultant who advised me that the increase was an adjustment to our ‘refundable’ utilities deposit which is re-evaluated on a 3 to 6 monthly basis and related to our services usage. I nearly swallowed my tongue.

Our electricity usage had barely fluctuated and not nearly enough to warrant such a sizeable increase. In the back of my mind I also thought a negative adjustment would only ever happen when pigs could fly. The consultant could not explain how the powers-that-be had arrived at this figure and could only try to console me with the fact that when I had originally set up my utility account, a pink slip with was signed, thus clearing the Municipality to freely adjust their rates. Ethical and fairness, will you please stand up!

The bottom line – if I didn’t pay the ferryman, I would not pass go and collect R200. On the flip side, if they had cut off my services, they’d be powerless to prevent me from sending one last mega-turd down the poop chute to destroy their treatment works. Try and make me pay for that if you will.

I decided to deploy my secret weapon and ask for one of the Tshwane Big Chief’s phone numbers. After some heel-in-mud resistance, which would usually be enough to deter the casual caller, defences crumbled and I finally got what I was looking for. Mike (just Mike) was my man! When I called, he took a considered looked at our statement, decided there had been an obvious mistake and deleted the adjustment from our records. Mission accomplished! I rewarded myself with lunch.

There is always a follow-up however. Upon my return home, I noted that the Municipal workers had failed to collect the rubbish, however someone from the Municipality had been kind enough to issue us with a Final Demand:

“It has come to my attention that your municipal services account was not paid by the due date. This is a final demand for payment of the outstanding balance at the Finance Depart”

I just smiled and felt a sudden urge to use the toilet.

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21 thoughts on “Tsk Tsk Tshwane

  1. Hi Guys,

    Same issue here, “Financial Adjustment” totalling R7000… I have begged and pleaded for someone to explain how this came to be, only to be told to go to the Credit department and “make arrangements”.

    On top of that, I am also experiencing the delayed bill debacle and everything that follows. My power has been cut off 3 times, twice after I have paid (guessing the amount) on time.

    Please assist with any number of an actual accountant (whom can count REAL numbers), or anyone whom is willing and able to help.

    I am starting to smell a class action…

    Regards
    Jan

    • Hi Jan.

      Thanks for the message. I don’t believe the guy I used can assist any more – he may have moved on ; however I suggest phoning the call centre and asking the agent to provide you with the contact details of firstly a team leader, who should then be able to give you the contact details of senior member of staff who can look at your case in isolation. I was also told to “just pay” and I told them I wouldn’t – this was how I got to speak to ‘Mike’ who immediately rectified the situation on their system.

  2. Hi All,
    Some of the feedback I’m getting from people is that Mike is no longer available to help. What I can suggest, and how I ended up with Mike’s number is phoning the Tshwane call centre and asking for a manager. They will try and give you the go-around and tell you to pay the bill, but be persistent and they should be able to provide you with something.

    Sorry I couldn’t have been more help.

  3. Hi “Engelsman”!.
    Can you send me Mike’s number too please. I got a R38K “adjustment”, and that on a property on which our house is only half way built!
    Thanks, Howard.

  4. Hi, I have the very same problem! My bill can to R6171 for these financial adjustments ! PLEASE HELP! I have no way of getting the money and seems like Mike is the only hope. Please forward me his numbers! mwshings@email.com

  5. Hi there
    Hope you guys can help me to, just yesterday I received my bill and was shocked when I saw Financial Charges/Adjustments R2400!! Why do they charge us this and for is this? How do they expect us to get the extra money for that if you run a tight budget??? PLEASE can someone also help… would really appreciate it.
    My email address: mandie.erasmus@gmail.com

    • Hi, we have exactly the same problem. They expect us to pay, but no one can tell us what for. Final letter of demand has been issued to us, but when we you call you don’t get any answer. Very frustrating. Any luck on getting Mike’s number?
      Kind regards,
      Jeremy

  6. Could I please have Mikes number. I installed a Heat pump and my electricity and water usage has actially gone down over the last yaer, but I got a R 3000.00 ajustment ?? ‘WT?’

  7. Hi
    Please please can u send Mikes number to me, my acc was also the same as yours but 70% the same words were also used financial charges adjustments?????????????? increase R6000.
    my email is jacquiagt@yahoo.com
    Regards Jacqueline
    PLEASE PLEASE HELP…………………………..

  8. please send me Mike’s contact details … our bill adjustment is R6400 … our bill this month is R11500 … did you know there are now 40 days in September?

    • Hi there
      just wanted to let your other blog readers know, we had to pay the R11500, it was from a broken water meter over a year ago. They backdated all the charges. If you call Mike he is very helpful and will give you the details for the right person to call.
      Dont bother emailing, my emails from a year ago were deleted and unread last month (I put a read receipt on them)
      hope you all get refunds 🙂

      • Hi Vikki – thanks for you update. I’ve found that telephoning people is the only way to go here in South Africa. It’s taken me over a month to cancel my Mtn 3G contract as the service wasn’t working (but that’s another story and best left for a rainy day) 🙂

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