Friday, September 15, 2017

Estate Agency's advertising morality - Is it kosher for properties to be pictured as being ON SHOW when they don't exist?

Dear Prospective Property owners,
Mike Greeff
          I asked Mike Greeff CEO and founder of the Greeff Properties estate agency how he could justify newspaper advertisements for his firm that contained pictures of ON SHOW homes that had yet to be built?
          They were in the Cape Times in Cape Town where he says he started his business from his dining room table in 2001.
          He really hit the big time when his firm was asked to join Christie’s International Real Estate as an affiliate. Christie’s has built its world wide empire in 46 countries through a rigorous selection of local brokerages. These affiliate appointments are so prestigious that they are by invitation only.
          So Greeff Properties has a very high standard to live up to. That’s why I wondered why it resorted to this kind of advertising. And I was even more baffled when I tried to find out from Christie’s if it approved of what Greeff was doing.
          In spite of his extensive experience in the property game Mike doesn’t seem to be aware of the meaning of ON SHOW or SHOW HOUSE as Google refers to it. Numerous explanations from the Collins English Dictionary to Longman and others are given, and all of them say much the same thing.
          “A house that has been built and fitted with furniture to show buyers what similar new houses look like.”
          There is absolutely nothing to suggest that a plan or a model of a yet to be built property on a site that is currently vacant qualifies for that ON SHOW label that appeared on the pictures of some of the new developments Greeff was promoting in that supplement.
          The contentious issue at stake was this:
What would the majority of people expect to see on a development site if they were first attracted to it by an advertisement with very realistic colour pictures of a townhouse or flat complex building? In some cases pictures of furnished rooms were included. They also had ON SHOW in red on the corner of the pictures with the copy next to it making it appear even more real by giving directions like this: “ON SHOW Sunday 2-5pm. Follow boards from Brommersvlei, Rust en Vrede into Wycombe.”
11 August - Wycombe Place
11 August - Wycombe Place with nothing yet built on the site
26 August - Revised ad with *Artist's impression in the
bottom right hand corner
          Christo Weilbach, a Board member of South Africa’s Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) that is the statutory body that polices estate agents, agreed with me that this kind of adverting is “misleading.” He emphasised that he was speaking in his personal capacity and not as a board member.
Weilbach is with Belinda Oosthuizen Properties in Pretoria and is Vice-chairman of the Northern Region of the Institute of Estate Agents. This is a national organisation that represents agents and their principals and Mike Greeff is a member.
Its Code of Conduct states that “members shall in offering property, avoid misrepresentation or concealment of material facts which are known to such member.”
Here are extracts of my email conversation with Mike Greeff about this touchy subject?
15 August 2017
Dear Mike Greeff,
I am a freelance journalist, who also has a blog and I am proposing to write a story about what I and other people I have spoken to consider to be misleading advertising done by your firm. This is why I am contacting you to get your comments on what I discovered. On 11 August your firm had a 16 page advertising supplement in the Cape Times. In it there were at least five advertisements (There could have been more as I didn’t check them all) with very realistic pictures in them that were described as being ON SHOW when they haven’t even been built yet. There was another picture of what looked like a completely built up estate, which also doesn’t yet exist. And while this one wasn’t labelled ON SHOW there was no other implication that people could have got other than this was what they could go and see.
On your website you are quoted as saying: “Our ethos is we are a boutique agency servicing a niche market and as such we specialise, which means our standards must remain impeccably high.”
How can this kind of advertising possibly be described as setting an “impeccably high standard” when it is clearly misleading? Image how somebody would feel, if based on your advertising, they had arrived at one of the sites on Sunday and found nothing there.
I haven’t yet established what Christies International, to which your firm is affiliated, thinks about this kind of advertising. But I see on the web that the three pillars of its business are “Integrity, Expertise and Discreet Client Service.”
11 August - The developer's website described this as "set on the banks
           of the Hout Bay River"
whereas this advert said it was "on the banks of
            the Disa River Wetlands"
possibly because Greeff didn't want to high light
Hout Bay where there have been violent protests recently





11 August - This was the closest they had got to a complex on
the site
                              
26 August - Revised ad with *Artist's Impression in the bottom
right hand corner
17 August
I asked him if he wanted to say anything about this or whether I could assume he had no comment to make.
18 August 2017
He told me he would reply on Monday three days later.
21 August 2017 – Monday
His promised reply did not materialise so I sent him another email saying that I assumed that I could now go ahead with my post as he no longer wished to comment. I added: “Obviously I can’t force you to explain why your firm made the claims it did in that advertising supplement. In it buildings were pictured and referred to as being ON SHOW when they didn’t actually exist. And I think if you did a quick survey among passers by in the street, who own their own homes, all of them would say without hesitation that this kind of advertising is not at all kosher.”
22August 2017
He replied saying he wanted to get “all facts and opinions” and would get back to me on Wednesday 23 August. It was strange that he should take so long to answer my initial email if his advertising had been perfectly above board.
          Later the same day he finally replied to my email of 15 August saying:
“At Greeff Properties we are very involved in the sale of developments and your suggestion that we are in any way acting unlawfully or unethically in our advertising is incorrect and rejected. 
“We are busy with various developments which we have advertised as being on show, some of these developments are already built upon, some are in the course of construction and others where building has not as yet commenced. 
“The intention of having show days is for potential purchasers to be able to see the property upon which the development is to be constructed or is being constructed and to decide whether they want to buy into a new development.
“When people come to see the property they are shown details of the intended development and are given information concerning what is proposed to be built and the specifications relating thereto.
“We conduct our business in an ethical manner and according to the code of conduct of the Estate Agency Affairs Board.”
Clause 5.5.1 of its Code of Conduct stipulates that agents must not “wilfully or negligently mislead or misrepresent in regard to any matter pertaining to the immovable property in respect of which he has a mandate.”
Mike concluded his email by stating: “I’m not sure whether you are actually looking at buying in a development but, if you are, I am more than happy to meet with you and to discuss the development of your choice with you. If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.”
This baffled me because I had at all times made it clear that I was a journalist about to write a story and no reporter worth his salt would consider buying property through an estate agency accused of misleading advertising that he was writing about.
In spite of having told me that there was nothing unethical about his advertisements lo and behold they changed. In the Weekend Argus of 26 August most of the developments that I had seen before were pictured once again with ON SHOW prominently displayed in the top right hand corner. Only this time in the tiniest of letters they had “*Artist’s impression” on one side of the last line of the copy below the pictures.
27 August
I told Mike that the changes were an admission that his previous advertisements had been misleading. Why are you so reluctant to tell people in your ads something like “Building is expected to start soon,” I asked, because they are going to find out soon enough that there is nothing on the site? What you are doing, I submit, could make some people wonder about the ethics of your firm in general.
30 August
Mike explained that the rejection of my allegation that their advertising was misleading was based on “our opinion that the images are clearly renderings/artist impressions. However, you drew our attention to your concerns, and your letter was taken to heart by our marketing department, and they, for the sake of future clarity, have implemented a few small changes. In this regard, thank you for your input.”

*    *    *    *
          He ignored my suggestion that his advertisements should make it absolutely clear that the stands were still vacant.
          Has his small addition solved the problem? You be the judge.
I have no idea how long Greeff Properties had been running the type of advertisements I had concerns about, before the changes were made.
          Regards,
          Jon, a Consumer Watchdog of long standing who would be a property investor if only……. he had the money.

P.S. Read about the incredible way Christie’s dodged my efforts to get comment about Greeff’s advertising from its CEO Dan Conn & the Estate Agent Affairs Board’s reluctance to say whether or not its original advertising was acceptable
(christies)

Christie's International Real Estate & SA's piddling Estate Agency Board vie for Worst Media Service title

Dear Readers,
Kathy Coumou
Christie's Executive Director
          There was nothing real about the way Christie’s treated my media inquiry. In fact it was so bad it was out of this world. You would think that a company with 32 000 agents in 12 000 offices in 46 countries with sales of $115- billion last year would be very profession when dealing with my simple, if perhaps embarrassing question.
          It’s hard to believe that operating out of New York in the land of free speech Christie’s was so much worse than South Africa’s Government run, humpty dumpty, Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) in Johannesburg.
          Well it was, a lot worse, not that the service the Board provides is anything to brag about. And that not only applies to a blog inquiry like mine, but to the way it functions generally.  
          While researching a story (advertising morality)about misleading advertising by Greeff Properties, a Christie’s affiliate in South Africa, I felt I should find out if Christies approved of what the Cape Town estate agency was doing, before I wrote my post.
          Being a wishful thinker I wanted to get the views of Christie’s CEO Dan Conn.
          I looked for the most likely contact details on the internet and started by emailing the Press Centre at press@christiesrealestate.com . All I got were read reports from ostensibly different people. It was like emailing the wall. I wasn’t sure if the names like Ilana Markus, Lisa Gluck and Antonia Koumantaropoulou belonged to real people so I tried emailing two of them by name. Nothing happened.
Joachim Wrang-Wide`n

          Then I tried advertising@christiesrealestate.com ; info@christies.com ; and jwrang-widen@christies.com . Joachim Wrang-Wide`n is the Director of Affiliate Services for Europe, Middle East and Africa. So in theory if anybody could help me he could. Again I got no reply.
          I thought I was getting somewhere when Kathleen Coumou, an Executive Director listed third in the executive team below the CEO and the Chief Operating Officer, replied to my email asking for the best person to contact for a media inquiry.
          “Copying in Lisa Bessone. She can assist” was all she told me. So I sent her the full details of what I wanted the CEO Dan Conn to comment on. That put her back into silent mode and instead of getting something from her or Bessone, Elaine Brens, the Marketing Manager replied saying: “Please email our PR team at – press@christiesrealestate.com.”
Dan Conn

          I had gone full circle on the Christie’s roundabout.
          “I have done that already,” I told her in yet another email. “I find it hard to believe that I am having so much difficulty in getting a reply from such a large organisation like Christie’s.”
          In a final email I told Kathy Coumou: “I have done more than enough to get Christie’s side of the story, but as nobody is apparently prepared to give it to me I will just have to assume that your company has no problem with the type of advertising that was done. And I will be saying just that in my story.”
          Guess what – even that didn’t generate a response.
          I thought that if anybody could tell me if Greeff Properties’ advertising in a Cape Times supplement was misleading it would be somebody at the EAAB, the statutory body that controls estate agents.
          On the phone I was told that Margie Campbell, the Marketing, Publications and Communications Manager, dealt with the media. After sending her several emails and ones asking when I could expect a reply she told me that she was the wrong person.
          She had forwarded my email to Jimmy Baloyi, the Executive Manager and Deli Nkambule, the Legal Manager. Again I struggled to get a reply from either of them.
          Three days after my last email I sent another one on 21 August addressed to both of them. I told them that your Board claims at the bottom of its emails (the ones I got from Campbell) that it is committed to “achieving and maintaining the highest levels of consumer service excellence”, when in reality your service is terrible. After Margie Campbell sent my email on to the two of you and I got no reply my efforts to speak to you on the phone proved fruitless, because neither of you ever seemed to be in your offices and when I left messages nobody phoned me back.

          It was only after I had emailed Jill Corfield, the only member of the EAAB’s 15 member Board, whose contact details I could find, that I finally got a response from Deli Nkambule.
          I had asked if it was acceptable for an estate agent to advertise a flat for instance, for sale with a very realistic computer generated picture of it with ON SHOW in red in the one corner and the copy next to it saying something like “ON SHOW Sunday: Follow boards down Smith Street into Jones Road.” And if a potential buyer was to do that they would come to a vacant stand and what was shown in the picture would certainly not be ON SHOW.

          On 23 August Nkambule replied by first ticking me off for not going through the proper “formal process” with my question as “sending emails to individuals was not the proper manner of getting assistance from the EAAB.”
          From what she told me it appears that the EAAB has no special way of dealing with media inquiries, they have to be sent through the same channels as everybody else – people lodging complaints and the like. And as I told her this would take so long no section of the media would bother.
          Having told me that it would amount to misconduct if an estate agent’s advertising misrepresents something she would not say whether this would apply to the example I gave.
          As she described my question as being “unclear” it was inevitable that I didn’t get it answered in her eight point reply.
          Up to that stage I had not mentioned that the estate agency involved was Greeff Properties. But when I asked her if I should send her the full details I didn't get an answer. 
          
          Eventually on 29 August Beloyi’s email arrived saying that while each matter had to be dealt with on its merits Regulation 5(5.5.1) of the Code of Conduction stipulated that no agent shall “wilfully or negligently mislead or misrepresent in regard to any matter pertaining to the immovable property in respect of which he has a mandate.”
          However he could not answer “Yes’ or “No” to my question as a “whole lot of circumstances needed to be taken into consideration before it can be said that an estate agent has contravened this provision of the Code of Conduct.”  
          The following day I thanked him and told him he badly needed to “jack up” the service at his board. I outline my experience and told him to look at Hellopeter, the poor service, complaints website.
          “There have been numerous complaints against your Board,” I wrote. “All had ‘No response’ next to them, which would indicate that nobody on your Board cares about maintaining any kind of reputation.”
          I left it to him to look for what I found on Hellopeter - a disturbing list of comments made in the last few months such as “Still waiting;” “No service;” “Shocking;” “Its systems down for two weeks or more –No CEO accountability, No response” and so on.
          I expanded on my original question by saying: “I can't understand why you can’t answer this: Is it misleading for an estate agency to advertise a property development with the following: A very realistic picture of the entire complex with trees and veldt around it with ON SHOW in red in the top right hand corner of the picture; 20% SOLD in another corner and Sole Mandate in the bottom left hand corner. Below this picture were two more very realist pictures of a furnished bedroom and lounge. Further down were five lines describing the property’s, finishes etc. This was followed by “On show Sunday 3-5pm” with details of where a viewer could find the agency’s boards to get to the development. But if you followed the direction instructions you would have come to a vacant site with a hut of some kind used as a sales office. Nowhere in the advertisement was there any indication that nothing had yet been built. In fact just the opposite was true. 
"How you can say that there are a 'whole lot of circumstances that need to be taken into account' before a judgement can be made as to whether or not this is misleading? All that has to be judged is what is in print and nothing else.
“What would you say if an estate agency, contemplating an advertisement like this, asked your Board if it was acceptable, so as to avoid any problems afterwards?
“If your Board can’t answer this question I can’t see how it qualifies to police the Estate Agency business.”
I heard nothing more from him.
Hello Christie’s and the Estate Agency Board, it seems that your huge international real estate company and our relatively small Board are almost as bad as one another when it comes to dealing with media inquiries.
You should both be ashamed of yourselves, Christie’s more so than the Board, as we have come to expect this sort of thing from anything the South African Government runs.
Regards
Jon, a really disgusted 
Consumer Watchdog.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

EXPOSED - THE SUNDAY TIMES' LOVE AFFAIR WITH A CROOK

Dear Newspaper Readers,
Jim Jones
          Is it reasonable for an investigative publication like the Johannesburg based Sunday Times, South Africa’s biggest selling Sunday paper, to go on using a freelance journalist for eight years after it became aware he was a thief?
          That was not all the paper was aware of. It also knew that he had used his position as a writer for its business section (Business Times) to get his own back on a firm that had fired him.
          Every week this paper has something to say about the wrong doings of others, yet it is blind to its own deplorable morality when it comes to Jim Jones.
          It seems that because he was the Editor of Business Day, a paper in the same group as the Sunday Times for 10 years until 2000 when he was replaced by Peter Bruce, this gave him a clean record forever, regardless of his more recent, shady past.
          In October 2009 Noseweek, South Africa’s only investigative magazine, turned the spotlight on Jones’ thieving ways in an article headed High on the Hogg.
How Jim Jones ripped off his website employer and then spun the story.
          Jones then aged 67 lived mostly in France but still wrote for Business Times as a freelance. In August of that year he cause a stir with a scathing report about Moneyweb, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange listed website that had fired him as its Mineweb Editor.
          It turned out that he diverted $20 489 (About R200 000 then) due to Moneyweb by a Canadian firm into the Mauritius bank account of P.J. News Service, which just happened to be his own company. He only returned the money to Moneyweb after being threatened with a criminal prosecution.
          The Jones broadside described Moneyweb’s performance as “shambolic” with “tumbling” advertising revenue and a debtor’s book that showed an “astounding deterioration.” It could hardly have been more derogatory.
          “The full might of the Sunday Times was brought to bear on our small company with falsehoods published as fact and not so much as a suggestion that we be asked for a response to some of the outrageous claims,” said Alec Hogg the founder of Moneyweb.
Alec Hogg

          “My initial response was to ignore the nonsense. Surely people would see through the axe grinding of a former employee who was forced to repay R200 000 that he had stolen from our company.”
          According to Noseweek the Sunday Times group’s in-house ombudsman Thabo Leshilo was asked to adjudicate. I had found him particularly ineffective when dealing with my own complaints that the Sunday Times was promoting scamsters by accepting their obviously suspect get-rich-quick advertisements.
          In Moneyweb’s case he was no better. Noseweek reported he offered Hogg a 30 cm space in the paper to give his side of the story. This was cut to almost half in the editing and the frivolous headline: Jim Jones a naughty boy indeed, told its own story of how seriously the paper regarded what was a particularly unforgivable thing for a journalist to have done.
          It was a disgraceful whitewash job, with the Ombudsman showing his bias, like a distress flare in the middle of the night.
          At the time Jones’ stories were all over the Business Times together with his impressive byline. Then he became the willow the wisp of the business section as it got smaller and small; disappeared for a time only to reappear now and again at bigger and bigger intervals, but still in its hardly noticeable form as if the paper was hoping nobody would notice he was still a contributor.
          In July 2012 Leshilo’s successor Joe Latakgomo wrote in one of his general columns that appeared periodically in the Sunday Times that the “Media must stick to nothing but the truth” as it derives its “moral authority from being trusted.”
          Ironically the following week Jim Jones’ byline reappeared in Business Times after a considerable absence. So I sent Joe an email referring to Jones and asked: “Can you trust a newspaper that continues to employ someone it knows has a record of this kind.”
          He didn’t even have the courtesy to reply.
          I then wrote a post addressed to Joe dubbed:
                    Sunday Times’ phoney morality (phoney)
It criticised, among other things, the way the paper kept on using Jones.
          In December 2015 I posted:
The Sunday Times badly needs a truth drug injection (truth).
I repeated this story about Jones together with other examples I had personally experienced to debunk the paper’s incredible Editorial boasts in its December 6 edition of how perfect it was.
          This was just after Bongani Siqoko became editor, replacing Phylicia Oppelt who disappeared into management.
          Entitled Our commitment to the truth is absolute the Editorial made claims like this:
          “We want to reassure you, our readers and the public at large, that we adhere to and practise the highest standards of ethical and principled journalism.’’
  
          Like continuing to employ a thief.       

“We have been conscious of and responsive to concerns or complaints regarding anything that appears in this paper as part of our public accountability.”

          Like ignoring my complaints that a thief continued to be employed as a writer.

          If anybody among the top brass at the paper ever read my posts they probably dismissed them as the ravings of an ex-Sunday Times journo who is now well over the hill. How else could they explain the suggestion that they should actually practise what they preach?
          Just when I thought the Sunday Times’ love affair with Jim Jones was finally over HE WAS BACK.

          In last weeks’ edition his byline was on a whole page story in Business Times about the centenary celebrations of the Anglo American Corporation. His return was welcomed as if it was some kind of coup with a mention under the Inside heading on the front of the main paper. JIM JONES Anglo’s century of twists and turns it said.
          Noseweek told us this former mining engineer turned journalist once had his offer to ghost write the autobiography of the late Harry Oppenheimer, Anglo’s Chairman for 25 years, turned down. If only the Sunday Times had been as perceptive? 
          I sent separate emails to the Sunday Times Editor Bongani Siqoko and the Editor of Business Times Ron Derby questioning Jones reappearance and needless to say I didn’t get a reply from either of them.
          It’s understandable. You can’t justify something like this.
Ron Derby Business
Times Editor

          Hogg moved on from Moneyweb to found Biznews, which is similar.
And when I asked him if it was THE JIM JONES who was back at the Sunday Times he replied: “Memories are short.”
          As the Sunday Times itself might say about the Gupta brothers, Jones must have the right connections.
          But whatever the background is, he can only tarnish the paper’s reputation and how can it be sure he won’t use it once again to settle one of his personal vendettas.
          Regards,
          Jon, the Poorman’s Press Ombudsman.

Friday, September 8, 2017

ARAMEX COURIERS SETS WORLD DELIVERY RECORD THAT NOBODY WOULD BE PROUD OF

Dear Consumers,
Andy van der Velde Aramex's
illusive CEO
          In my daughter Mandy’s experience the South African arm of Aramex, the international courier service, couldn’t be trusted to honour the refund undertaking it gave.
          This is also a tale of two CEO’s: one incredibly efficient and the other one, well you be the judge.
          In what it describes as a first for South Africa Aramex provides a store-to-door service at selected Pick n Pay branches nationwide.
          For R299 documents can be sent anywhere internationally.
          But as Mandy found out the staff didn’t know what their own requirements were when she tried to send a T-shirt to her brother-in-law in Australia.
          Earlier this year when he was in South Africa to compete in the Port Elizabeth Ironman, he ordered a commemorative T-shirt to be sent to Mandy’s Johannesburg address in the hope that it would arrive before he returned home. And when that didn’t happen she went to the Randridge Pick n Pay branch to courier it to him through Aramex.
          She used this Aramex service because on four previous occasions her daughter, who made tutus for kids, had successful sent samples to England without any hitches. She was given an international bag and told that because the T-shirt was so small (139g) it was acceptable. A member of the staff even helped her put it into the bag.
          It was sent, or so she thought, on 24 April 2017 and she paid the R299.
          “An entire month later there was a knock at our door in nearby Eagle Canyon,” she told me. “And there’s the courier with my parcel that was meant to be in Australia.  
          “I was told that as it wasn’t a document it couldn’t be sent. No one had contacted me via my email address on the package to tell me there was a problem. And they hadn’t made a special trip for me as they were evidently delivering something else a few houses away from ours.”
          Mandy asked a woman called Ayanda for her money back and was told this could not be given because it was Mandy’s fault. It was made clear to her on the bag the item was sent in that it was only for documents.
          When I tried to complain to Andy van der Velde, the CEO of Amarex South Africa, all I could get on the phone was an email address for his PA Andi Ungerer.  She evidently doesn’t bother him with complaints like mine, because without any explanation I got a reply from Tsholofelo Mosala to my email, addressed to him. She is described as the National Corporate Social Media Executive.
Was he perhaps on another adventure like
this when I was trying to contact him?
          She began by apologising for the “inconvenience cause by both Pick n Pay and Aramex staff,” as this was not “how we do business.” She went on to blame Pick n Pay’s store manager for not properly training the ladies who helped my daughter “hence they gave incorrect information to Mandy.”
          Her blame game did not end there. She repeated that it was actually Mandy’s fault because the leaflet on the sleeve states the service is only for documents. “The onus is on the user of a service to familiarise themselves with the terms and conditions when entering into a legal agreement with a service provider,” she added.
And Mandy had signed a document confirming she had read these.
          She conceded however that Mandy had trusted people who supposedly had a better understand of the service than she did.  
          Ayanda, she went on, had left their company so they could not get her side of the story but their policy was that “prior to returning a parcel, we make contact with the sender to advise of the outstanding requirements” and if they don’t get this information the sender “will be advised again that the parcel will be returned to them.”
          Nothing like this was done in Mandy’s case.
          Mosala asked for details of the tutus samples sent by Mandy’s daughter, but as this was some time ago Mandy no longer had any record of these.
          Her firm’s project manager would be asked to visit this Pick n Pay store to ensure that its manager was training their staff sufficiently to deal with the Amarex customers correctly.
          “As a gesture of goodwill, and a once off because of the individuality of this case, we would like to refund Mandy,” she stated.
          But instated of telling me that Mandy could go to the branch and collect the money she made it as difficult as possible for her by saying, “If she can please provide us with the letter from the bank confirming her affiliation with the bank and her bank account, we will have this processed and resolved.”
          Mandy then had to go to her bank personally to get this unnecessary letter which cost her another R21.50.
This is how my email conversation continued:
4 August
I sent Mosala the letter and Mandy’s bank details. She replied the same day saying she had sent it to their accounts team with this rider that showed that payment would not be at all quick. “Refunds take 7-14 working days to be processed.”
25 August
I told her 16 working days had now elapsed since she said payment would be made and nothing had come through. The same day she undertook to “inquire with accounts and await their feedback.”
2 September
Is my daughter ever going to get the money? I asked her. This is getting beyond a joke. You keep saying you are going to find out about it and what happens – absolutely nothing. Your 7-14 days must be the longest ones in history. It’s a terrible advertisement for Aramex.
P.S. I presume the R21.50 she had to pay for that bank letter will be added to the refund.
5 September
She apologised for not responding earlier and once again told me she had contacted the accounts team, but she was unable to say when this would be resolved or what was causing the delay.
Referring to this email I attempted to contact the CEO Van der Velde once again through his PA’s address. I told him it was deplorable that Mosala was still unable to find out when his firm was going to pay this “piddling amount.” In keeping with his record up to that stage he never responded.
6 September
In desperation I sent an email directly to Richard Brasher, Pick n Pay’s CEO asking if he could get somebody to sort this out as I was getting nowhere with Amarex. I included my first email to Van der Velde and Mosala’s initial reply.
7 September
Mosala sends me proof that R320.50 has been paid into my daughter’s bank account. This is a world record for a 7-14 working day delivery. It actually took 25 days.
It needed two different people to approve payment of this small amount. Hopefully Amarex’s creditors don’t have this much trouble getting paid.
Below is my email conversation with Brasher. Note how quickly he replied.

That’s what you call a very special CEO – somebody who is not only prepared to deal with big business in a 770 store empire, but who still has time to help solve a customer’s problem.
Richard Brasher
Andy van der Velde, if you are anywhere around, please read how a CEO should be promoting his company’s image.
                           After this post appeared Andy sent me this

Last word from Mandy: “Thanks to PNP Aramex delivered on its promise. I will of course return to PNP, but as for Aramex that ship has sailed.”
                                                                                       
Regards
Jon, a Consumer Watchdog of longstanding.

P.S. A very ugly snarl to Andy van der Velde. He is also a teacher on the social video learning platform Learn It Live that powers online education around the world. But perhaps he should brush up on his customer relations at home first.