When her mother was hospitalised earlier this year, Arroyo convinced her to set up online banking with Absa, enabling her to pay her accounts while she was bedridden.
In late March, Arroyo made a R1350 EFT payment to Edgars on her mother’s behalf, mistakenly choosing EdgarsCredit as the beneficiary from the list of beneficiary options on Absa’s online banking site, and using her mother’s Edgars account number as a reference.
She realised her mistake after Edcon, owners of Edgars, alerted her mother to a non-payment.
“We contacted Absa, who said they can’t sort out the payment. Edgars said they couldn’t help either. Same story with Standard Bank’s credit card division .”
The Edgars-branded credit card is underwritten by Standard Bank and therefore separate from the account into which Edgars cardholders make payments.
I took up the case with Standard Bank and on May 25 Arroyo got back to me to say that her mother had been refunded by Absa.
She really shouldn’t have needed the help of a journalist to get her money back.
Lisa van Rooyen, of Durban, also got the “not our problem” response when she asked Nedbank why, since May, the bank had been charging her a small, extra fee described on her statement as “Int currency” every time she used the “taxi” app, Uber.
“I called Nedbank and was told it’s not them, it’s Uber.
“Then Nedbank said because Uber is an American company, I was being charged in dollars, which wasn’t the case.
“A while later I was told that Uber sends the charge to them in another currency, and that is why I’m being charged, and that they are getting a lot of complaints about it.”
Van Rooyen said the bank was reversing all the Uber “international currency” deductions but she needed to contest each one.
Uber’s African spokesman, Samantha Allenberg, explained that the international company’s merchant account, Uber BV, was in The Netherlands, “and therefore certain banks will add an international transaction fee when their cardholder makes a purchase from Uber BV”.
“Uber has no control over whether the bank chooses to add such a fee.
“Riders may be able to lower or avoid these fees by using a different credit card.”
Uber trip receipts carry a disclaimer that reads: “Fare does not include fees that may be charged by your bank.”
Nedbank’s card operations head, Mpho Sadiki, said all international transactions attracted a currency conversion fee of about 2%.
Payment for an Uber ride in South Africa is a cross-border transaction.
“In the Nedbank fee schedule it is stated that international transactions carry a currency conversion fee.”
She offered no comment on why other South African banks chose not to impose the fee on their clients.
WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR OLD BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER?
Did you know that banks recycle bank account numbers when they’ve been dormant for three years? Well, that’s Standard Bank’s policy.
Gavin Thomson discovered this when his mother did an EFT of R17000 into what she thought was his current Standard Bank account, not realising that he’d closed that account in 2010.
In 2013 the bank allocated his old number to another customer – who promptly spent the R17000 “windfall”.
“The bank offered to refund me half the money and suggested that I open a civil case against the new owner of that account number to get the other R8500 back.
“And to do that I would need to hire an attorney to subpoena the bank for information about the holder of the new account number.
Thomson lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman for Banking Services, saying the onus should be on the bank to tell him of its policy of recycling account numbers after three years.
But the ombudsman agreed with the bank’s contention that it was Thomson’s responsibility to inform everyone who had been a beneficiary that he’d changed his bank account.
“I also think that it should not be possible for someone to deposit money into an account without at least a correct name to match the number,” Thomson said.
But, as I’ve mentioned before, all it takes for you to “gift” a stranger by mistake is for the account number to be valid. The other details – account name and branch number – are irrelevant in the EFT process.
Thomson was told that if his mother had made the transfer at a Nedbank branch they would have picked up that the numbers did not match.
So be warned: If you change your bank account, be sure to alert everyone who has you on his list of beneficiaries.