Door-to-door cam­paign to re­solve billing is­sues

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS / NEWS - ANNA COX @an­na­cox

THE CITY of Joburg is go­ing on a door-to-door cam­paign to ed­u­cate its cus­tomers to pay their ac­counts on time and to re­solve their billing is­sues.

Spokesper­son Kga­manyane Mapholo­gela said the cam­paign started last week in the sub­urbs that fall un­der Re­gion E, such as Bryanston, Kew, Bramley, Houghton Es­tate and Sand­hurst, to fo­cus on those cus­tomers who had not re­sponded to the city ask­ing them to pay their ac­counts.

“Over and above vis­it­ing cus­tomers and ed­u­cat­ing them on the im­por­tance of pay­ing their ac­counts con­sis­tently, on time and in full, we would also use the op­por­tu­nity to do data clean­ing to up­date cus­tomers’ de­tails and seek to re­solve some of their queries,” Mapholo­gela added.

Coun­cil staff will spend two days in Re­gion E in­ter­act­ing with cus­tomers, and the cam­paign might be ex­tended to other re­gions.

“The city has launched the pro­gramme in a bid to be proac­tive and en­gage cus­tomers on a one-on-one ba­sis to try to un­der­stand why they have stopped pay­ing their ac­counts.

“These are cus­tomers who we have writ­ten to, to in­form them of their out­stand­ing debt.

“We want to move away from sim­ply just cut­ting off the cus­tomers’ wa­ter and elec­tric­ity.”

Mapholo­gela said many cus­tomers as­sume that while they have queries pend­ing or have not re­ceived their monthly state­ments, they should stop pay­ing for the ser­vices they have con­sumed.

Ac­cord­ing to the city’s credit-con­trol and debt-col­lec­tion pol­icy, the cus­tomer has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to pay for the ser­vices they use even though they might not yet have re­ceived their ac­count state­ment.

Sec­tion 8.2 of the pol­icy states: “Al­though the city must ren­der an ac­count for the amount due by a debtor, fail­ure thereof shall not re­lieve a debtor of the obli­ga­tion to pay this amount” owed.

It was still cus­tomers’ re­spon­si­bil­ity to pay for the ser­vices they con­sume ev­ery month, Mapholo­gela pointed out.

While the city con­ducts its door-to-door cam­paign on de­fault­ing cus­tomers, the of­fi­cials will also be as­sist­ing cus­tomers who are un­able to pay their mu­nic­i­pal ac­counts for fi­nan­cial rea­sons.

These cus­tomers will be as­sisted to sign an ac­knowl­edge­ment of debt (AOD), and ar­range to pay a de­ter­mined amount they can af­ford.

“Cus­tomers ap­ply­ing for the AOD must ad­mit the debt owed, and then ar­range with the city to pay in­stal­ments on the out­stand­ing amounts.

“This is to as­sist cus­tomers and en­sure that they are able to make a min­i­mum pay­ment in the form of in­stal­ments and that they don’t fall into a debt trap.

“Cus­tomers will also be as­sisted to com­plete a life­style as­sess­ment to de­ter­mine af­ford­abil­ity with re­gard to their out­stand­ing debt,” Mapholo­gela added.

He ad­vised that cus­tomers can still pay their mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices ac­counts us­ing third­party pay­ment meth­ods.

De­liv­er­ing his 2017/18 bud­get speech last month, the may­oral com­mit­tee mem­ber for fi­nance, Dr Ra­belani Da­gada, said the city was im­prov­ing its rev­enue col­lec­tion, with a record R3 bil­lion col­lected dur­ing March over a tar­geted R2.6bn.

This was the first time in many months that this amount had been reached.

Da­gada said he was con­fi­dent that the city would reach a R4bn col­lec­tion by the end of De­cem­ber.

Cus­tomers can make use of the fol­low­ing to make pay­ments:

Cus­tomers can also call the city’s call cen­tre on 0860 Joburg (562 874) or 011 375 5555.

To lo­cate al­ter­na­tive cus­tomer ser­vice cen­tres near them, they can visit the city’s web­site for more in­for­ma­tion.

‘IM­PROV­ING’: MMC for fi­nance Dr Ra­belani Da­gada

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