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Business Practices Committee Report 78

Interest Recalculators

4. Complaints received



The BPC received many complaints from clients of recalculators after publication of the notice of the section 8(1)(b) investigation and the article in the Business Times. The complaints were primarily against Financial Research Foundation, entity "A", entity "B" and entity "C".


Excerpts from the complaints against recalculators follow. The surnames of the complainants (12), in bold, are followed by the dates of their complaints and short synopses of the complaints. They serve to illustrate the various calculators’ handling of their clients as well as the nature of the recalculators’ clients.


4.1 Financial Research Foundation


Ada (letter dated 21 May 1999) "I signed a contract on 25 November 1997 and paid R1 500 in full to the consultant, Mr Agenbacht. The first correspondence received was on 22 January 1998. The company requested bank statements and certain documents that I have obtained from the bank. I arranged with the bank to get the relevant documents. I received them within one month and advised FRF to collect. The rep only picked up the documents on 8 June 1998 after several telephone calls. I then tried to contact FRF’s management to report back but in vain. Nobody bothered to call me. After several attempts to contact FRF in 1999 and now lm turning to you to please check up on this company".


Bur (letter dated 18 June 1999) "During 1997 I gave FRF instructions to do an interest audit on my account with the bank. I paid them R1 500 in advance. In spite of numerous calls and correspondence, and notwithstanding the fact that I obtained all the information required by them, none of their promises materialised".


Dup (letter dated 24 May 1999) "On 5 September 1997, after making a telephone appointment, I was visited at my house by Mr Chris Bam who told me that he represented FRF who examines financial records on behalf of clients in order to obtain refunds made by the relevant financial institutions as it was proven the financial frequently overcharge on interest. I paid Ri 500 when signing the contract and was told that although the documents I signed state that a result should be forthcoming after 60 days, due to the amount of word the company has, the investigation would take approximately three months, after which I would be informed of the result. When hearing nothing, I phoned Mr Bam on 19 January 1998 who informed me that he could not handle enquiries and I must phone the company directly. When I phoned the number, a lady informed me that I must phone another number. I phoned at various times but every time only received an engaged tone".


Far (letter dated 25 May 1999) "Attached please find correspondence relating to attempts to recover funds paid to FRF. This was as a result of my signing with this firm to investigate my bond with the Standard Bank and statements that they could recover substantial amounts from the bank. After no action on the part of this company I have attempted to recover my funds without success".


Gam and three acquaintances (undated letter) "We paid R7 200 to FRF on May 1997. We had, on numerous occasions, requested them for a refund, without success. They last communicated with us in November 1998. The present situation is that we are unable to trace them and I have been told they recently sold their property which includes a Hotel "Keerom Case" in Villiersdorp".


Gre, on behalf of Ngc (letter dated 13 October 1996) "The client paid R3 000 to FRF. Unfortunately, despite numerous letters and threats of legal action, no response whatsoever has ever been received".


Hen (letter dated 26 May 1999) "I paid RI 200 on 28 January 1997 to FRF. The whole affair is very clear to me now:


1) Promises based on bogus (?) letters from clients
2) Regular meaningless correspondence as a delaying tactic.
3) Requests for info they already have
4) Suggest a visit to some far-off location
5) On visiting their "office" at Villiersdorp I was shocked at the chaos and unprofessional state - their wooden racks were full of brown manilla folders in dusty conditions
6) They must have made millions of rands out of this scam - I would take great pleasure to see they get their just deserts".


How (letter dated 4 June 1999) "I received an evening phone call from a Chris Long. This man was phoning people at random canvassing business for Financial Research Foundation. I demanded that he give me a contact name so that I could phone them the next day. I phoned the contact, Vollaria, explained the facts and asked her to follow up my contract. This lady stated that they are not an interest recalculation company, instead they are a firm of forensic auditors. Needless to say that was the last I heard from that lady".


Ket (letter dated 31 May 1999) "They have in the recent past been the topic of a presentation on SABC Radio Monitor. I myself have fallen victim, having paid R4 000 deposit and nearly 26 months later had no results. My personal experiences:


Deposits are taken and work, if any, is either delayed or does not take place. When questioned about delays, one is informed that relevant information on the account was requested from the bank, but had not been received or was received late.


At a personal visit to FRF’s offices I requested to inspect their correspondence with my bank, but was told that this was stored in another office and the person with the key had gone on holiday.


I was further informed that my claim had actually been sent to my bank’s head office and received a copy of their letter to my bank, where an acknowledgement or receipt was requested from my bank.


I was requested to pay my outstanding balance of R5 900 for their interest research.


I commented that I was a little cautious, based on the radio presentation and certain other adverse news on their firm and their industry in general, but was prepared to settle upon acknowledgement of receipt of their claim by my bank.


I emphasized that I was at that stage only interested in receipt of claim and not even any assurance that their claim was valid.


I was threatened with summonses and received a highly abusive telephone call from their director. Needless to say, today - nearly four months later, I have received neither summons nor any confirmation that my claim had been received by my bank.


My own belief, together with views of other ex-clients on Radio Monitor, is that deposits are invested for interest gain and, if at all retuned, only to those shouting the loudest.


With this particular firm there are literally thousands of customers involved, with millions of Rand having been handed over in total, most of whom we assume have written their deposits off, due to the high costs of litigation".


Kim (undated letter) "I entered into a contract with FRF on 30 June 1997 and paid them RI 500. I have this far not had any response from them and this has even led to a strain on my marriage as well as I being the laughing stock of my family and friends. I have since on numerous times tried to make contact with this company by fax and telephonically - but to no avail".


Kri (fax dated 8 July 1999) "I feel that no progress is being made as this has now been going on from 4 April 1997. I would like to have my R1 500 refunded back to me".


Lab (fax dated 13 July 1999) "During the afternoon of 1 May 1997 Mr Meintjes, a financial consultant of FRF knocked on our door. He explained to us that banks charged their clients too much interest, in other words, we are being done in. He also told us that we could easily expect R15 000 as a refund and that the investigation would be completed within a month. He said that the investigation would cost RI 500. We told him that we could not afford that amount but he said we could pay it by credit card. Should the investigation be unsuccessful, he said, the company would refund us the R1 500 at an interest rate of 15.5 per cent per annum. He later convinced us to have them undertake the investigation. He looked honest and even sang the Lord’s Prayer during our discussion. This convinced us that he was a Christian and that he would not defraud us. Everything looked so promising and at that stage we suffered financially".


From June 1997 to January 1999 this FRF client tried to contact FRF to get a refund on the money paid to the "consultant". He said that it was surprising that the employee at FRF that he spoke to on a previous occasion was never available on the next occasion. The usual explanation to him was that the employee to whom he wanted to speak "... had left the company". FRF employees he spoke to were inter alia Nola, Michelle Friedman, Janine, Gaynor and Charmaine.


"We, as husband and wife, already had heated arguments because of FRF. There were accusations because of the R1 500 plus interest "... that unnecessarily left the house" and because we suffer hardship and could have bought clothes and food for our three children".


Lau (letter dated 19 May 1999) "On 13 May 1997 I paid them R4 875. They would have kept this in trust and I would have received 15.5 per cent annually. Is the company a deposit taking institution? I learned that FRF found that the bank owes me R8 000. I am prepared to cede the R8 000 together with the 15.5% to FRF on the condition that they refund my deposit".


Lou, Bri and Mul (letter dated 4 June 1999) These three FRF clients worked for the same institution. Each of them paid RI 500 to FRF towards the middle of 1997. They have since then not heard from FRF.


Mat (letter dated 16 June 1999) "The amount is too small to justify a private person and a pensioner going to court or even to accrue legal costs. The attached correspondence and other documents cover all of the details of my experience with the FRF but I would add that I had a number of telephone calls to the company as well".


The documentation the consumers made available to the Committee included registered letters to FRF. He stated that he furnished FRF with the original bank statements, but it as again requested by FRF at a later stage. He asked for cancellation of the contact because of non-performance by FRF. The client paid R250 on 3 January 1996.


Rei (undated letter received on 10 June 1999) "I hereby submit copies of documents relating to my own dealings with Financial Research Foundation (Pty) Ltd. I was given a sweet verbal assurance that, because of the promising returns on my claim, the term of recalculation would be extended to 25 years. The whole affair stank like ten skunks but, in the hope that I could get a couple of bob back from the bank, I met all payments and terms of the contract. In attempts to follow up progress on my account I was faced with the frustrations of a bandy man trying to catch a greased pig in a passage. Wet soap is as slippery as sandpaper compared to these operators. Suffice to say that I had not success in contacting FRF and had written o(any further developments".


Rid (letter dated 24 May 1999) "I signed a contract with FRF on 22 January 1997, when I was informed that the matter should be concluded after a few months. Needless to say, this has not happened. I only received a reply once after requests for information as could be seen from the enclosed documentation".


Roe (undated letter) "I appointed FRF two years ago to recalculate the interest on my bond. Up to date I have heard very little from them. I paid RI 500. What is now going to happen to my money?"


Sny (letter dated 9 June 1999) "The co-operative and the bank threatened to have us liquidated because we could not pay our debt because or poor crops. We were then approached by FRF. The appointed attorneys EB and WN Reyneke and adv DMDEL to handle our case. We incurred heavy losses because of court cases. The involvement of FRF cost us another ±R200 000 in legal fees. We never heard from the Friedmans again. They refused to talk to us. The end of the story is that we mediated with the bank and the co-operative to pay our debt over three years".


Sty (letter dated 1 June 1999) Styles paid RI 500 to FRF on 5 May 1997. He said: "After several letters I learned they had gone into liquidation". Yet, on 6 February 1999 he again signed an agreement with another interest recalculator. He paid R2 500 and was promised that he would receive a report back within 8 weeks. "On 24 April 99 I faxed a letter and phoned their Cape Town office. At no time have I received any written acknowledgement from them".


Wak (undated letter received on 1 July 1999) "I have tried unsuccessfully to contact them, by phone and mail (as well as fax) and am getting nowhere. I have a pile of ‘bumph’." (paperwork).


Wei (letter dated 25 May 1999) "During November 1997 I paid R1 500 to FRF who promised that the investigation would be completed within six weeks. Nothing happened".


WiI (letter dated 21 May 1999) "1 paid RI 500 to FRF during 1997. Up to date I received no reaction from the firm and they cannot be traced anywhere. It would seem that they committed fraud on a grand scale".


4.2 Entity "A"


Arm, though attorney X (undated letter) "He paid R5 530 to entity "A" during February 1995. The client reverted to our offices requesting that legal action proceedings be instituted against entity "A". See case No 28446/1996 of the Magistrates Court, Cape Town. Shortly before legal action so instituted having been scheduled to proceed to trial, "A" in its plea, alleged the contract so concluded by Mr Arm therewith, had not been concluded with such company, but rather with another company. Under cover of correspondence dated 12 November 1998, Messrs ABC, acting on the behalf of "A" advised our correspondents in Cape town that "... our clients intends to aØply for liquidation."


Bea (letter dated 25 May 1999) "On 24 September 19981 was approached by Mr Kevin Nel and Mr Rob Nel of entity "A" to investigate my bank account. I paid them a deposit of R4 560. To date I have never heard from them again. I believe their modus operandi to be sophisticated and a fraudulently criminal manner of theft".


Bek (letter dated 21 May 1999) "This firm (entity "A") was paid R5 480 by my father and he received no services in return. A lot of other people were also defrauded in this manner. We believe that they received money from ±2 000 individuals without them receiving anything in return. At an average amount of R3 000 per client this amounts to R6 000 000".


Bez (letter dated 20 May 1999) "The amount of R3 920 was paid to entity "A" plus a further R750 to take the case further. After many calls to entity "A" it could not be traced".


Bur (letter dated 23 April 1999) "1 paid a deposit of Ri 500 on 6 May 1997. I told the marketer that my bond was already fully paid and that I would not be able to furnish them with statement from the date that the bond was registered in 1972. He told that was not a problem because with the "money-back guarantee" I would in any case get my money back should it not be possible to do the investigation. The end result was that I was required to pay another R3 200 to the bank to obtain the statements. I elected not to pay this amount".


Buy (letter dated 25 May 1999). "She (a marketer for entity "A") showed me a file containing a list of people and companies who had received large refunds due to incorrect interest calculations by the banks, and also the bank where my account was held. ABC Bank was the main culprit amongst the banks and therefore guaranteed me a substantial refund. I gave her a cheque to the amount of R8 010 on 3 September 1998 as a deposit which would be fully paid back after their calculations. When I phoned them during November 1998, I was told that everything was still on track. During January 1999 I contacted "A" again, but this time no one answered the telephone. After contacting the caretaker of Musgrave Centre, where their Durban office was located, I was told that they had suddenly vacated their offices and there was no forwarding contact number or address".


Dev (fax dated 13 August 1999) "I was also a victim when 1 paid R5 000 on 28 January 1999 to entity "A" to investigate two accounts for me. They said it will take three weeks but the work is not finished yet. In May 1999 they sent me a report to say that on the one account the bank owes me R65.85 plus interest and ask for an order to go ahead. I was not worried about the R65.86 but they said that I will loose my R2 500 if they do not summons the bank. I then signed the document to give them the right. I have not heard from them since and they do not answer my calls".


Dob (letter dated 5 July 1999) "I paid RI 500 to entity "A" on 22 September 1998. I have received no information in return and am not able to contact entity "A" at any of the telephone numbers printed on the documents".


Dut (letter dated 28 July 1999) "On 13 May 1998 we entered into an agreement with them to check the interest payments on a number of accounts and hire purchase contracts. We paid an upfront fee of R5 040 on the same day. They basically did nothing and we never got any satisfaction from them and they never returned our bank statements and other documents. By November 1998 we gave up trying to get anything back from them".


Gab (undated letter) "I paid them R7 500 during May 1998. No contact since".


Gov (letter dated 25 May 1999). "The only mistake they have found is R7.48. They have guaranteed to refund my money if they are unable to claim it from the bank. I have paid an upfront fee of R5 880 to them. The only reply I got from them that they have not reached consensus with the bank since November 1998. 1 have tried on numerous occasions to contact them in Johannesburg and there was no reply".


HiI (fax dated 19 August 1999) "I paid them a deposit of R5 250 on 17 April 1998 to have my bond checked and was promised an answer within 6 to 8 weeks. During May to October 1998 I made numerous calls to their Johannesburg and Cape Town branches with no positive results. During October 1998 I was advised that the recalculation on my bond had been done and that the bank overcharged me in the amount of R22 071.12. On 7 December 1998 I went to their offices in Vorna Valley in person. I was informed that all the calculations had been submitted to the bank and that they had a "gentleman’s" agreement which gave the bank concerned three months to review their calculations. I waited till the end of February 1999 and started phoning them again to find out about my claim. Their phones just rang, Cape Town and Johannesburg. I again went to their offices in Vorna Valley. The offices were open, files lying on the floor, no furniture and nobody in the office. Other tenants informed me that they had moved in February 1999".


Hol (undated letter) "1 paid them RIO 800 on 29 May 1998".


Ket (letter dated 26 may 1999) "I wish to advise you that I too have fallen victim to the services of entity "A". I paid over a deposit for re-calculation if interest on two Stannic accounts. After taking up this issue with the banks themselves, I was informed that "A"s recalculation was totally incorrect anyway. This company no longer operates from their premises in Waterfall Park, Midrand. On trying to trace them I was informed by the landlord that they haven’t even paid rent. I hope these con-artists can be bought to book".


Mus (letter dated 26 May 1999) "I paid them an upfront fee of RI 400 on 4 November 1997. I received one letter from them thereafter. I last talked to someone once in plus minus September 1998. No response since".


Qua CC (letter dated 26 May 1999) The attorneys of this close corporation stated: "On 3 August 1998 our client paid R3 330 to entity "A". Our client received a document from them where calculations were allegedly carried out and a variance of R737.80 was calculated. It was furthermore agreed in writing between the parties that should the amount paid out by the bank was less than the deposit, "A" would refund the difference. Our client has made a number of enquiries to obtain payment of the amount allegedly overpaid of R737.80 from "A" and payment of the difference between that amount and the amount of R3 330. It would appear that entity "A" no longer operates and that the entire operation is fraudulent".


Raf (letter dated 24 May 1999). "I would like to submit documentation of recalculators that I fell victim to. I paid R2 020".


She (letter dated 2 June 1999) "I paid them R3 780 on 15 September 1998. 1 was informed that it should take about six weeks for the investigation to be completed. After seven weeks I phoned their Cape Town office to no avail and eventually got through to a number in Johannesburg only to be informed that "A" was in liquidation. I know of another 2 persons in this area that gave cheques to "A". I feel the managing director is conning us and making good money at the same time".


Smi (letter dated 26 May 1999) "I paid R2 500 on 30 October 1998. Have not yet heard from them".


Smi (letter dated 25 May 1999) "We made a payment of R5 400 on 11 June 1998 and to date have had no services rendered and are unable to make any contact with them"


Smi (letter dated 24 May 1999) "I was contacted telephonically and hounded by the agents of the company for about a year to enter into a contract with them to recalculate my bond interest. I became unemployed at the beginning of 1997, and after receiving my provident fund pay out in September 1998, used part of this pay out to take out two contracts with "A" as the agent was still hounding me, was very convincing and all appeared above board. I paid a total of RB 760. This company was exposed on both MNets’ Carte Blanche and the Isabel Jones Consumer show in October 1998. I immediately contacted the Durban office and the agent I dealt with as was told that the exposure was a ploy by the banking institutions to discredit them. I was told not to worry as everything was under control and business was as usual. I requested a written response as to the state if my contracts. Nothing was forthcoming. I then phoned regularly and never received any replies or answers to the status of my query. On 9 November 1998 I was informed that "A" was in liquidation and that was all the information available".


Tiz (letter dated 5 June 1999)


1) Agreement signed with "A" on 28 August 1997.
2) Their acknowledgement of the assignment dated 8 September 1997.
3) My letter to them asking as to their progress dated 1 November 1997 which was sent by fax. This brought a telephonic response, taken by my wife, that they were very busy but the matter was now being dealt with by their Cape Town office.
4) Copy of my attorney’s letter dated 19 January 1998 to them asking for a refund of my R1 400 or the work to be performed. This brought no response.
5) Copy of my attorney’s letter to me dated 6 February 1998 advising of their lack of progress and recommending that I go to the Small Claims Court.
6) Letter of Demand, obtained from the Small Claims Court, sent registered post by me on 17 April 1998. This brought no response. Regrettably, overseas family commitments, extensive business absence from South Africa, and a general tardiness have resulted in the matter not having gone any further than the Letter of Demand.


Vin (letter dated 1 June 1999) "They took R3 440 from me more than a year and a half ago and now have apparently disappeared. I would be glad to see the managing director’s activities curtailed whenever he may surface next or similar dishonest practitioners".


Vip (letter dated 31 may 1999) "On 16 February 1998 I paid them an amount of RI 600. At first, until approximately August 1998, my phone calls to the Midrand office and later to the Cape Town number were met with promises to complete the work contracted for. Eventually the phone numbers were discontinued. To date I have had no correspondence with the company and I have accepted that I had been conned".


Vis (letter dated 26 May 1999) "Last week a Mostert of "A" of Lower Long Street, spoke to me ... when he heard that I have a housing loan he became very persistent. He stated that my bank is one of the biggest culprits and that he could virtually guarantee that I would get a refund from the bank. He required R3 000 upfront with no guarantee".


4.3 Entity "B"


Please note that entity "B" took over the files of two former interest recalculators, called Sen and Rin, and obviously had no legal obligation towards the clients of these two erstwhile entities. It will be clear from reading the excerpts that clients of Rin and Sen regarded "B" as their successor.


An engineer (fax dated 4 August 1999) I hereby attach my complaints against entity "B". I have a desire to help prevent this issue impacting on others, so I have also attached some suggestions and an offer for help. I am a gullible engineer, so I might have some skills that could be of use to the broader public.


On 26 February 1999 I paid R2 850 to Ms Godfrey of entity "B" for services relating to an audit of an old housing bond that I had with a bank. The account with the bank was terminated round about 1992. I transferred the bond to another bank. Godfrey indicated that the bond calculation would require two separate audits, one for each bank. Shortly after paying the R2 850 for the first bank’s, I was given a copy of a Starline article by a friend that indicated that the recalculation industry was dubious.


I visited entity "B" and confronted them with the article. I told them to wait with the second bank’s work until there was progress on the first banks’ work as commissioned. Mr de Bruyn of "B" accepted this. I also provided additional statements of the first bank that I had been able to find at home, for inclusion in the audit. I was promised that they would recalculate the amount owing to me and then fax a copy of the Saambou letter of demand to me.


Despite many telephone calls and many excuses (I kept a log of the dates and the dialogue if it is required), no fax was forthcoming. I faxed them a letter of complaint on 1999/04/24 stating that I had been promised a copy of their letter to the first bank and that nothing was happening. They did respond via fax, attaching a copy of a letter of demand to the first bank, their letter’s date was 12/03/1999. The amount they claimed was the original value they calculated, i.e. without any changes due to the extra statements I had given Mr de Bruyn on 2 March 1999.


After another sequence of about 20 telephonic contacts (I have a second log as well), I received a fax from "B", the second page of a demand letter addressed to the flrst bank, but with a different claim amount. I also received a third letter copy via post (with the same 12 March date) with the same text, but with a third amount on page two of their letter to the first bank. I thus have three letters in hand, each with a different claim amount. Note that two of the letters have the same date, but different claim amounts. All of them do not reflect the information that I expect, there should be three audit periods, A, C and D (from the conventions that they are using in their own documentation). Period B as calculated by them for the first bank, reflect a credit, so I was told that specific period would be disregarded.


I received a letter of demand from "B" on 1999/07/01 (dated 18/06/1999) in the post, stating that I owed entity "B" R2 850. 1 refuted the claim via fax, enclosing a copy of the one cheque I paid and a declaration that the second audit on the second bank was stopped by me and agreed to by "B".


I generated a letter of demand on 1999/07/19 to "B", stating that I wanted the following from them. I expected to see additional audit periods in their report to me due to the additional statements submitted. I wanted a copy of the newly updated demand letter to the first bank. I wanted the name and telephone number of the person at the first bank handling this matter. I gave them until 1999/07/26 to respond.


I have heard nothing from "B" since. I have contacted the first bank, they say a claim was submitted by "B" and rejected due to a difference of legal opinion on daily balances versus monthly in advance.




a) I was given incorrect information by "B". I was told that they would send a letter of demand to the first bank and I would be given a copy at the same time. I was told that entity "B’s lawyers were sharp and took no nonsense, that the banks had made calculation errors, especially in the 1 980s (a period where the first bank’s bond was active). They told me that claims get sorted out quickly, that the banks (except for ABC Bank) pay up smartly. They also told me that the R2 850 audit fee plus interest (as well as any interest I lost by borrowing the R2 850) would accrue to me. (Subsequently I hear from the Banking Council that this letter statement is not true, there are no cases on record where the audit fee was reimbursed.)


b) I have also subsequently found that there is a difference in legal opinion between "B" and the first bank in terms of the interpretation of the Usury Act, and until this is sorted out by (costly) litigation, the bank will reject the claim. This was not made visible to me by "B". I am sure "B" had claims against the first bank before mine, so they must have known. In my perception, "B" will not go for litigation due to the costs involved, the claim amount in my case is too small.


c) They told me they had ‘contacts’ inside the banks and that they would get copies of statements from the first bank. (Subsequently they said there was a ‘spot’ on the first bank’s microfiche, they would to use my statements but that they would be able to extrapolate some data.) They never did get any extra data from the first bank.


d) Having ‘contacts’ in a bank and obtaining records of who has a bond so that they can be telephoned, does not strike me as being ethical, in retrospect.


e) I have received a report for which I paid R2 850 that I cannot use, this was not what I envisaged. To generate the report cost "B" very little. (I estimate R50, R200 maximum.) "B" is using the excuse of a report to obtain money up front for little work, as a manner to bypass Gazette notice 19353.


f) "B"’s documentation is designed to mislead one. The agreement one signs refer to ‘form A3’. When you look at a one page document marked A3, one side is entitled ‘Newsletter’ and the fifth point on the reverse states that the ‘initial fee payable is for the investigation and audit of the financial information as supplied by you’. Why is paragraph five, not on the agreement? The form also states that in "B"’s experience, ‘clients have no problem in settling the claim directly with their financial institution’. This latter point is clearly not correct, how can a client that doesn’t have recourse to their spreadsheet information, justify "B"’s figures, if the banks currently reject their claims?


The matter of detail as supplied by one versus them getting it from the Bank, is another concern. Verbally they state they will get statements, yet the A3 document states you must supply the statements. I know of someone that paid his money and could not provide statements, so he heard nothing further.


They speak of a ‘panel of expert lawyers who can, at payment of 15% of the settled amount, finalize the claim on your behalf. This looks very reasonable, but the misleading part is that entity "B" would not be able to fund the litigation at 15% of the claim, so they will never go to litigation.


g) I contend that the report they gave me, was incomplete and as such was incorrect. Additional statements as supplied by me, were not properly incorporated, so as far as I am concerned, the service provided was shoddy, the ‘initial Investigation’ was not correctly done.


h) "B" altered page two of the letter to the first bank, I contend for purposes of satisfying me, while leaving the date on the letter as is. I think it is fraudulent to alter a letter after it has been sent.


i) "B" made several promised on die phone and then kept applying excuses (my two logs refer, I can supply those if required, they cover several pages). This is not conducive with a going concern that displays customer focus. This indicates to me that the whole process to a scam carefully designed to defraud the public. The operatives are trained to play on the public’s fears and concerns while playing down the legal issues.


j) Entity "B" makes ample reference to the Usury Act, but neglects to mention the Government Gazette notice 19353 dated 23 October 1998 relating to recalculators. (I obtained a copy of this notice recently.) A firm that is fair, would declare such matters.


k) Entity "B" sent a letter of demand via a debt collector, this is seen as a subtle way to get me to go away, it is a tactic designed to frighten one off. Any reasonable company, once shown proof of concerns where a customer indicates potential fraud and then accepts to wait with an action in process, would first contact the customer with a claim or reminder, before submitting the claim to a debt collector. The whole tone of the way business is done, is suspicious".


App: (letter dated 19 July 1999) "I paid R1 188 to Sen on 23 January 1997. They have since been liquidated and it would seem that entity "B" does not make any progress with the case. Please help".


Bez: (letter dated 19 April 1999) "I paid R1 200 to "B" in ±1 997 and they still struggle to conclude the investigation. According to van Jaarsveldt the case against the bank is now with the attorneys. It is a disgrace that the State cannot solve the problem. I talked to van Jaarsveldt on 10 April 1999 and he told me that a date of the trial is still awaited. I cannot believe that the case can take this long. It would be appreciated if you could expedite the court case".


Bra: (letter dated 3 June 1999) "I paid Sen RI 490 during May 1997. No response".


Cra: (letter dated 17 June 1999) "l paid R2 600 to "B" during August 1998 after they had told me that I had overpaid R12 119.29. After not hearing from them for ±6 months I contacted them to hear what was happening and was told that they needed information from the bank. The representative from "B" fetched the information from me personally. I have still not received any response, despite many calls. They always promise to get back to me with an answer but never do. The response of "B" during July 1999 was that they sent a letter of demand to the bank.


Cro: (undated letter received in June 1999) "1 paid RI 188 to Sen on 19 November 1996. I won a case in the Small Claims Court against Mr van Zyl of Sen, but he could not be traced. The consultant of Sen told me that the results of the investigation would be available within two months. I made 10 calls to van Zyl but he did not return any of the calls".


EIs: (letter dated 15 April 1999) "On 24 July 1997 we signed 20 contract with Sen and paid an advance fee of R28 581.21 to them. From thereon virtually nothing happened. All efforts to follow up progress, to make contact or to make appointments with any responsible representatives were fruitless".


Eva: (letter dated 24 May 1999) "I am one of the victims of "B", one of these recalculators, which you might have come across, as they are situated in Pretoria. I am from Brackenfell in the Cape and if it was not so far from these SHARKS I would have done some serious damage to them. In February 1998 after they did the (NAME) POLICE STATION and also their captain I thought it will be safe to trust them (I’m only an electrician). I never fall for such schemes, but as some of the police’s bonds were done, I believed them to be honest. So they asked me to pay them R2 600 for the services they were going to render. They said I will get my money in three months time, which are now 16 months already. I spoke to their financial advisor, v Jaarsveld and their man Matting and everyone working for those criminals but to no effect".


Gan: (letter dated 8 June 1999) He paid Sen an unknown amount and was informed by Sen on 9 October 1997 that the "variance overcharged according to our calculations" amounted to R219.45


Mun: (letter dated 10 June 1999) "It would appear in the surface that "B" have duped me into believing they were able to effect a recovery on my erstwhile bond holder. To date nothing has materialised and I am being told that the matter is with the Courts and I should be receiving payment shortly".


Oma: (letter dated 10 June 1999) "I paid an amount of R4 500 upfront, and repeated phone calls to entity "B" (Messrs van Jaarsveld, Hattingh and Koekemoer) have proved totally unsatisfactory. At the last call - about a month ago - we were informed that all three of these gentlemen had left the company. Not only do I want a refund of my money, but also the return of the bank statements so that I can, if I still want to, take them to a genuine and reputable company for recalculation".


Ric: (undated letter during June 1999) "On 19 April 1997 I paid Rin to do a recalculation on the interest paid by me. Rin was followed up by Sen and then "B". The matter has not yet been resolved".


Smi: (letter dated 26 May 1999) "In mid January 1998 a Mr Carstens representing "B" approached me and offered to do a recalculation of my two practice loan accounts with ABC Bank. Two weeks later he returned with the so-called proof that I had been overcharged to the value of almost R1 1 000. He quoted the reasons for this as:

1) interest was illegally calculated on the protector plan policy taken with the loan
2) dated for interest calculations were done so as to create a "longer month" hence the double payment non interest for 2 or 3 days a month which accrued over the term into this large sum.

He also stated that almost 90 per cent of the ABC Bank clients whom they’ve investigated had been overcharged in this manner. As I was duly upset, I signed a contract with "B" and paid the initial deposit of R2 600. As you can see in the copy provided the money would be refunded in full should there be no evidence of overcharging. They also promised resolution within 3 to 6 months. After 6 months I had not heard anything. I then started to make calls. Van Jaarsveld contacted me and said that ABC Bank was disputing the claim and that I should go and see by bank manager and demand my money back. I went to the bank and the bank manager contacted me some days later and said that "B"'s allegations were unfounded. According to their recalculation my account was 100 per cent correct. When I confronted van Jaarsveld about this he said that they would take the matter to court, but he needed a letter of authority from me. I signed one and sent it back. I heard nothing from them and called them again. I explained to them that they were in breach of contract and that I wanted my R2 600 back as per agreement. I also commented on the fact that I had heard about "shady operators" doing recalculations on the Isabel Jones Show. The operator got very defensive and said that it was unfair to label them as dishonest if there were other dishonest operators and then went on to accuse me of being a dishonest dentist because he had heard about a dishonest doctor in Bloem on Carte Blanche. He also went on to say that the Isabel Jones Show is sponsored by the banks and thus the report was done as the banks are afraid the general public would catch onto them. After much unpleasantness I threw the phone down on him".


Van: (letter dated 19 April 1999) "I concluded an agreement with Sen on 17 July 1996. On 19 January 1999 I was informed that entity "B" took over the business of Sen and Rin".


Tho: (undated letter received on 15 June 1999) "In July 1997 I signed a contract with Sen. The fee was RI 200. I was lead to believe that this would take about three months with virtually guaranteed results. To date I have received very little feedback despite numerous queries and a visit to "B" office.


4.4 Entity "C"


And: (letter dated 24 May 1999) "I paid them R3 900 on 12 August 1997. They simply do not respond to telephone messages. Since the day of signing the contract they have changed address and telephone number at least once without notifying me. The intentions of these people are clear. They play for time and in the end both parties simply forget about the contract. The complaint of And was referred to "C" and their attorney informed the Committee that they are negotiating with the complainant.


Bur: (letter dated 23 April 1999) "1 paid "C" R1 500 on 6 May 1997. As I already redeemed my bond I told the marketer that I would have difficulty in supplying the bank statements as from 1972. He told me that should be no problem because with the money back guarantee I would receive a refund on my money if it was not possible to do the calculation. At the end I could not obtain the statements s from ABC Bank without paying them (ABC) R3 200. 1 did not see my way open to do this and I verbally and in writing requested a refund of my money from "C", without success. The complaint of Burger was also referred to "C" and their attorney informed the Committee inter alia that "... this again is a case where a written contract is ignored and verbal agreements put forward which should, with respect, be tested and cross-examined to establish exactly what was said".


Kil: (letter dated 19 September 1999) "On 27 January 1998 I closed a contract with "C". I paid an amount of R3 000. In October 1998 1 was informed (on my insistence) that all the statements of my accounts were received and that the recalculation would commence. After I had not received any feedback from the company for a number of months, I contacted them on 14 January 1999 and on 23 February 1999 to inquire about the status of the investigation. On 4 March 1999 1 received a fax indicating that urgent attention will be given to my request. Since then I have not received any feedback from them".


4.5 Others


Blo: (undated letter received in June 1999) I paid Patel R750 upfront for the recalculations alone and RI 000 to proceed with the claim. After eight months nothing has been forthcoming and every time I contacted him, he had a better excuse why my claim cannot be submitted to the bank. The complaint of Blo was submitted to Patel. Patel denied the allegations made by Blo and wrote that he kept the complainant informed of the progress of the investigation.


Bri: (letter dated 1 June 1999) On 6 November 1998 I paid R3 000 upfront to "Forensic Audit Services". During May 1999 I did some enquiries and heard that the owner, Ms XYZ must appear in Court on charges of fraud. Officials of the Committee tried to make contact with "Forensic Audit Services". It appeared that this entity and the persons involved vacated their offices and it was rumoured by another tenant in the building that they have moved to Cape Town.


Buy: (letter dated 23 May 1999) "1 have it seems also fallen in the trap and paid this interest recalculator RI 710 up front to do a recalc on bond repayments. After numerous telephone calls and letters no result as yet. Their reply - we’ll phone back -or we await your statements from the bank etc. This is going on since August 1998. How can you assist me to get my Ri 950 back!".


The Committee furnished this recalculator with a copy of this consumer’s complaint and the recalculator responded by saying that the client failed to furnish it with the original "power of attorney". On 17 February 1999 the recalculator called the complainant and informed him that the original power of attorney was outstanding. He did so twice on other occasions and received the required document on 21 May 1999. On the same day the recalculator also informed the complainant that: "... we have requested the necessary documentation from the bank. On receipt of any documentation we will send you a letter to keep you updated". According to the recalculator the complainant was also advised about a declaratory order against Absa Bank (Case 13771/98). On 17 June 1999 the recalculator sent a circular sent to his clients informing them of the Court case between NBS Boland Bank vs One Berg River Drive. Attached to this circular was a copy of an article that appeared in the May 1999 edition of "Noseweek" with the title "Dancing on Dullah’s Eggs". The recalculator stated in his letter to the Committee that it wished to bring under the attention of the Committee that it was still waiting for bank statements from the ABC Bank.


Van: ( letter dated 5 May 1999). "I paid the interest recalculator Ri 710 on 20 July 1998. Have not yet heard from them".


The Committee furnished this recalculator with a copy of the client’s complaint and the recalculator responded by referring the Committee to a copy of the agreement between itself and the client. Just above the client’s signature were the words, written in ink, calculation 4-6 weeks after statements received". On 7 August 1998 the statements were requested from the relevant bank and the client was informed accordingly. Notes were made in the client’s file that the matter about the outstanding statements was taken up with the bank on 27 October 1998, 14 November 1998, 27 November 1998 and 27 January 1999. The recalculator also informed the Committee that in terms of the Usury Act, 73 of 1968, as amended, bank statements should be made available to a client within 7 days of such a written request by the client or his representative. The statements were received from the bank on 8 April 1999 and the client was informed accordingly. The calculation was completed on 12 May 1999. This is, as per agreement, four weeks after the date of the agreement. On 17 June 1999 the circular, mentioned under Buy above, was also sent to this client. The interest recalculator concluded its letter by stating that the biggest problem that it experiences is the delay in the provision of bank statements from the banks. It does not appear that the clients were informed about this problem.


Wil: (letter dated 19 May 1999) "On 29 October 1998 I paid the company R1 500 for audit and legal fees. I phoned them several times about progress but never received any joy. I really will appreciate a refund".



12) Their anonymity is ensured by only mentioning the first three letters of their surnames.