South Africa

Banks, insurers and Christmas parcels

Banks, insurers and Christmas parcels

In this weekly segment of bite-sized chunks of useful information, consumer journalist Wendy Knowler summarises news you can use.

Can your bank unilaterally increase your credit limit?

Corporates are very skilled at introducing policies which are good for their bottom line, but dressing them up as a big win for their customers.

Case in point: Graham recently received a letter from the bank which issued his credit card, giving him the “good news” that they’ve noted he manages his money well, hence they’ve taken it upon themselves to increase his credit limit by 24%.

“We review your credit limit every year and increase it without you having to request it or submit documents for it,” the bank told him.

“You now have more opportunities to get the most out of your rewards with us.

“If you want to opt out of automatic credit limit increases, please call us.”

He made the call and opted out, but it annoyed him that he was forced to do that.

“I am sure this cannot be right. They should first ask and give me right of refusal, rather than provide it unilaterally. And then they have the cheek to call it shared value banking.”

Yes, I agree it is not the respectful way to do things, but is it legal?

The National Credit Act allows a credit provider to increase a client’s credit limit unilaterally in limited circumstances: for example, if the client has agreed to that in writing. In other words, if there’s such a clause in your credit card contract’s terms and conditions.

If you’d rather not have the temptation, inform your bank you do not wish to have your credit limit increased without your consultation and prior approval.

Enemy within

It’s traumatic to have your home burgled or your car damaged, but doubly so if the perpetrator is someone you trusted, or no longer trusted, but they had a set of your keys.

With most insurers only paying claims where there is evidence of forced entry, it could be a very expensive intrusion.

“These types of incidents are more common than one might think,” said Greta Goosen, head of customer experience at MiWay Insurance.

“That’s why it’s important to exercise extreme caution when handing over copies of your keys and to familiarise yourself with the ins and outs of your insurance policy to take the necessary precautions to protect you from potentially devastating losses,” she said.

If you’re going through an acrimonious split with a spouse or partner, change your locks, Goosen said. Never mind the expense, just do it.

“And should a vengeful ex take it upon themselves to sell or damage a vehicle listed in both your names, you are likely to experience problems filing a claim, particularly if the estranged spouse’s listed address is still the same as yours,” Goosen said.

Similar problems arise with losses suffered at the hands of domestic workers.

“The onus will be on you to prove entry was forced, which can be especially difficult in instances where employees such as domestic workers are given their own set of keys.

“It's best to exercise extreme caution when handing out keys to your home, and only in cases where you implicitly trust the recipient.”

In every case, in the event of a claim, the onus will be on you to ensure you took the necessary measures to prevent avoidable disasters.

“If you're not entirely sure of what the terms in your policy mean, contact your insurer to clarify your rights and responsibilities,” Goosen said.

Christmas parcel cut-off dates

If you’re intending to post parcels to friends or loved ones to reach them before Christmas Day, take heed of the cut-off dates published by the SA Post Office (Sapo) on Friday.

All airmail items to Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the US must be posted by December 3.

Surface mail items to those destinations must be posted by as early as November 5.

Road transport is the only means of transportation available to African countries, and the cut-off to get those parcels to your local post office is December 3.

Pack the contents of your parcels securely and use padding if the contents are loose  because parcels are transported in bulk, Sapo warns.

Make sure you only send items that will be allowed into the destination country  because all parcels to foreign destinations are X-rayed to check for illegal and prohibited goods. No jewellery or cash, animals or plants, medication, or illegal substances such as drugs may be posted.

Here’s a top tip: Add a cellphone number to the delivery address. This enables the destination post office to inform the customer there is a parcel ready for collection.

What about receiving Christmas parcels from abroad? The backlog of international parcels coming into SA has finally been reduced from the 2.1-million it was in April to zero, the Sapo said.

“International e-commerce retailers such as Wish.com, Mail Americas and Signature Mail from Malaysia demonstrated their confidence in Sapo when they signed delivery agreements with [us] earlier this year,” Sapo said.

For information about posting parcels to a specific country, contact Sapo by SMS to 31133, e-mail [email protected] or phone 0860-111-502.

CONTACT WENDY: E-mail:[email protected]; Twitter:@wendyknowler; Facebook:wendyknowlerconsumer