It nearly cost me my san­ity, but even­tu­ally the city paid me back

The Star Early Edition - - METRO WATCH -

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!

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