Always two sides to every story

Two basic tenets of journalism are fair play and the acknowledgement that there are two sides to a story. These should be imperative for a publication such as the Mail & Guardian.

But Maya Fisher-French’s articles about Platinum eProducts, “Storm over dodgy airtime deals” (February 4 2007) and “Platinum complaints roll in as regulators fail” (M&G Online, June 6 2008), are one-sided.

  • The original article was published without waiting for our response (the actual recorded conversation with the client was submitted to Fisher-French, but was rejected by your system — she never waited for the re-submission before going to print).
  • A list of complainants was not made available timeously
  • We have never been given the opportunity to defend this article in print.
  • No mention has ever been made that the debit order system to which she refers, Non-Authenticated Early Debit Orders (Neado), is in fact a boon to clients — their debit orders are never rejected should they be out of funds on the day of collection, nor do they pay bank penalty fees. This cost (often three times greater than it would otherwise be) is covered by the company offering the debit order.

Also, she refers to a long list of complainants. We found 11 — hardly the vast number inferred by Fisher-French. (We have a client list of well over 100 000 members.) All the complaints listed were on technical issues, many originating on the side of the client, their employer or because of the expiry of the need for the services. All were honoured as per our client-care policy. The total cost of all of these issues is just R5 000.

Fisher-French indicates she is aware that we cater to a risky market and that we serve a real need in the wider South African community, but she doesn’t seem to grasp the complexities we face in a market where members, like many lay people, are largely unaware of the laws of contract and thus often misinterpret the process.

Since the first article was published in 2007, the following has taken place:

  • The Scorpions have concluded their investigation and reported that they found nothing illegal or in any way prejudicial to our customers.
  • The Department of Trade and Industry has also concluded its investigation after an on-site visit to our offices in Bellville, Cape Town, and they too were happy with both our systems and our resolution process.

We hope this explains the real story and encourages clients who could benefit from the services we offer.

Annarica Allison is the public relations manager of Platinum eProducts

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