It nearly cost me my sanity, but eventually the city paid me back
RONALD SMITH WRITES: I do hope you can help me. I have been driven to my wits’ end by the chaos at the City of Joburg.
I sold my home in Melville last year. The transfer went through on July 15. I had been there for 32 years; I had no idea of the problems with the city. I had a useless agent, and an even more useless transferring attorney.
In August, the attorney sent me an e-mail with a copy of the letter she had sent to the city telling them the transfer had gone through and asking them to refund the deposit and the balance of my three-month upfront payment. I phoned the city two weeks later and was told that not only had they not received it, but since it had no payee account details (neither theirs nor mine), they had probably thrown it away.
As I am now living in Boksburg and had been to the council in Braamfontein to put in an objection to increased property values, I know the chaos. I asked this person what I could do as my attorney had washed her hands of it. She said I should e-mail my documents. When I asked if that was acceptable, she said: “Of course, people move to Cape Town or even overseas,” so I took heart.
I wrote asking for my refund – in total R3 482. They replied and said I should e-mail a request letter, a copy of my ID and a bank statement or a cancelled cheque.
In my total excitement and trying to be proactive, I sent them all, only to be told by my bookkeeper that it had to be a stamped bank statement. The next morning I rushed to the bank and got it approved. I immediately sent it by e-mail to them telling them of my error, apologised profusely and hoped that things could now proceed.
A few days later, I got an e-mail saying they needed my attorney’s request for the refund. I phoned her immediately and a few hours later I e-mailed and faxed it to them with the reference number they had given.
Some time later I phoned to ask what was happening and was told that my file had been closed! The reason? Banking details not supported – need cancelled cheque or bank statement (no mention of stamped statement).
By then, the approved bank statement had expired, so back to the bank for a new one. I e-mailed and faxed the new one with all the reference numbers I now had twice a week. I then started e-mailing and faxing them all the items they wanted and eventually got a “you must come into the walk-in to hand over the documents” instruction.
In frustration, I asked if I could go to any walk-in centre and was assured I could. I phoned a few times as I was depending upon a friend of mine to take me to Wemmer Pan which is not far from his house and was assured every time that I could go to any centre. After waiting for a few hours, it was my turn, only to be turned away and told to go to Braamfontein!
In fury, I started e-mailing and faxing five to six times a day, all the documents, until, a few days ago, I got a reply. There was no reference so I don’t know which of the many they were referring to. It said: “Your request for refund has been rejected.” No reason.
I phoned again and demanded to speak to the head of the refund department. I got a dismissive person who said she did not know who that was or even where they were situated.
She said she could not help me in any way and that I must go to any walk-in centre. When I said that I had been turned away at Wemmer Pan, she said that she had no idea why. She added that e-mailing or faxing was pointless as they didn’t know who the documents should be given to.
I explained that I headed every e-mail and fax “to the refund department”. She just sighed and I slammed down the phone.
I do apologise for the length of this, but I do want you to know that I have tried, and the level of my frustration. I have over 90 automated replies and that does not include faxes.
If you can help me, it would be greatly appreciated. I attach my details and the reference number I have.
Looking forward to your response as I am at my wits’ end.
Thank you and congratulations on your successes. SMITH WRITES AGAIN: I finally got my refund from the city this morning. A very big thanks to you and to all concerned, particularly when I was so close to losing my mind!