Credit Card agreements during the festive season

Debit order agreements during the festive season

If you’ve got debit order agreements with various companies, there’s a good chance that some of them will take their money from your bank account early next week instead of at month-end date, as usual, anticipating that you’ll get paid early for Christmas. But can they do that?

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That depends!

I took up the issue with FNB this week because they were getting some heat on Twitter about early debits last week.

Kuben Gounden, CEO of FNB Retail Collections, said: “During the December period, authorised debit order instructions of select FNB customers are processed on the dates that their salaries are deposited. Customers authorise FNB to run their monthly instalment debit on their salary dates. In December, customers receive their salary deposits earlier, hence their debit orders are processed on a date earlier than the common salary deduction dates.”

So who can remember what their various debit order mandates specify in terms of date? Did it give the bank any wriggle room? Salary date instead of an actual date?

Banking Services Ombud Reana Steyn said if a bank unilaterally chose to debit a customer’s account on a date other than that agreed to, it was a breach.

BUT, she said, some banks made provision in their contracts for a change in debit order date, such as when the stipulated debit order date falls on a public holiday.

“And some banks advise their customers that debit orders will be processed early in December and give them an opportunity to opt-out of this or to choose any date that is not later than the salary date," she said.

So they give themselves an out, and if we’ve signed an agreement with such a clause, that’s that - no legal problem.

And it’s not just banks doing the debit orders, of course. Our bank accounts are debited every month by insurance companies, medical schemes, home security companies, cellphone companies, etc etc.

The Payments Association of SA said there is a template for debit order authorities which goes like this:

"I/we agree that the first payment instruction will be issued and delivered on _________________ (date) and thereafter regularly according to the agreement, * except for payment instructions due in December which may be debited against my account on _____________________”

 So if you have signed that, you can’t squeal later about early December debits.

If you didn’t sign for such a special arrangement for December and you are debited early without your consent, and it doesn’t suit you, because you haven’t got paid yet, demand a reversal, WITHOUT FEES.

A major retailer trials a paper bag at one of its KZN stores

Many companies are doing their best to distance themselves from all things plastic now, understandably - single-use in particular; the stuff that gets used once and then ends up doing hideous harm in our oceans or clogging our landfills.

Much of it can be recycled, including the much-maligned plastic supermarket carrier bags, but not buying those plastic bags every time you shop is a major step towards being mindful about your personal plastic consumption.

Woolies is on a mission to phase out single-use plastic shopping bags by next year.

And yesterday the retailer announced the second phase of its trial of specially-designed paper bags for its fashion, beauty and homeware purchases - at its Midlands Mall store.

Not food, because the wettish stuff makes a mess of the paper.

Made out of 100% recycled paper, recovered from used cardboard and cardboard boxes which are sent to the mill by Woolworths. A wonderful “closed loop” there.

The bags are fully recyclable but are designed to be re-used many times before that.

It coincides with the opening this week of a new Wildlands Recycling Village at Midlands Mall - the fourth Woolworths sponsored one in KZN, aimed to increase recycling rates. The centres are clean, highly organised  and staffed with trained staff to help people pop their recyclables in the right bin.

A really lovely initiative.

So let’s hear what recycling initiatives the other supermarket groups are actively supporting.

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