Read fine print and don’t commit to deals based mostly on verbal promises

Interrogate a company’s Ts and Cs, especially regarding cancellation, before you sign up.
SCRATCH THAT Interrogate a company’s Ts and Cs, especially regarding cancellation, before you sign up.
Image: 123rf/chase4concept

You may remember my many reports on those companies trading as “looking for a loan” type names; luring people into applying for loans online, and then giving them not money, but a demand for an annual subscription fee.

Who wants to pay a subscription fee to a phone-in advice service when what you desperately need is a loan?

Ah, but the clients ticked that they’d read the terms and conditions of the deal on the website, I was always told when taking up such cases.

So why call the business Loan Locator or Loan Tracer, when what you’re offering is call centre advice with a no-guarantee loan application service thrown in?

Never did get an answer to that one.

And then there’s that still-active scam where a company is contacted and asked to confirm its listing in the Telkom-owned phone directories; they do so without reading the truly tiny print and then get demands to pay an annual subscription of up to R10,000 for some obscure online directory.

Turns out that Yap Yap cars is now operating as a “price comparative platform” for cars, “using their experience, contacts and know-how in the motor vehicle industry” in exchange for a “service fee”.

That’s according to the company’s attorney.

There’s nothing wrong with a quote comparison service, as long as it’s marketed transparently as just that, as Hippo does.

Mandi insists that was not the case when she had dealings with YapYap and she has screenshots to prove it.

She was contacted by a “Chantel” after applying for a vehicle on Yap Yap’s Facebook in late March.

“She said I had been approved and that I needed to pay an amount of R2,000; the sooner I paid the sooner I would be able to take delivery of the vehicle.

“My options were a Datsun Go or Nissan NP200. She said all vehicles were 2020 models and that there was no deposit payable.”

The man behind Yap Yap, Albert Venter, was also behind the notorious “Drive a new car for R699” scheme under his company Satinsky 128 (Pty) Ltd, back in 2008.

His experience and “know how” in the industry includes selling about 25,000 entry level cars via a scheme that saw buyers enter into two contracts: one with a bank for the full instalment and another with the mysterious promotions company, Blue Lakes, in terms of which they had to plaster their cars with stickers advertising the “Drive a new car for R699” deal to get a monthly advertising fee.

The scheme worked for many people for several years, but began to wobble in early 2014 when the advertising fees were suddenly slashed, and then imploded altogether in July that year when the fees stopped completely.

In 2020, Venter began driving cars sales — from established dealers — via Yap Yap adverts on Facebook and Instagram.

Patricia Nkabinde of the Free State’s experience summarises the problem many others had: she responded to a YapYap Facebook advert for a Datsun Go, enticed by the low instalments — R2,300 a month — and “no residual” assurance, on what was to be her first new car.

After a very quick “sign here, sign here” session, she didn’t get a copy of the contract with Nedbank’s motor finance division, MFC.

Turned out she’d committed to a residual of R43,000 after 72 months of paying that instalment, she said.

Others found out their monthly repayments were double what they’d been told verbally.

Venter’s attorney said at the time that his client denied misleading consumers.

“[He] is not the dealer that supplies the motor vehicles.

“He truly believes the below clients entered into the various contracts out of their own free will, considering they signed bank finance contracts and advice documentation.

“[They] knew exactly what their monthly repayments were.

“As our client’s main business is the rental of movable assets, our client has nothing to do with the finance of the movable assets.”

With the major car financing banks now refusing to finance Yap Yap deals, Venter is taking what people believe to be an admin fee on specific cars — on which no deposits would then be payable, some are told — as a “service fee” for offering comparative car quotes.

After paying her R2,000 — who would pay that amount of money believing it to be for comparison quotes, one has to ask — Mandi received an e-mail with a list of vehicles “with some deposits being as high as R80,000.”

She asked for a refund and was refused on the grounds of it being “non-refundable”.

Venter’s attorney said Du Preez had received a record number of quotes for her R2,000 — 42.

“The hefty deposit payable for the motor vehicle she chose to go for was in light of her credit rating, which has nothing to do with our client.”

Complaints website HelloPeter is home to many complaints from people who paid a R6,000 fee in recent months on what they believed was a particular car — some referring to it as a deposit — and then were denied a refund.

Self-protection is vital, and that involves refusing to part with your money or commit to a deal which is based mostly on verbal promises, and very thin on written detail.

Make sure you know exactly what you are getting yourself into; and what your money is going to buy you, and that you have written proof of that.

There is simply too much at stake.



Twitter: @wendyknowler

Facebook: wendyknowlerconsumer


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