Customer ‘didn’t know insurance was cancelled’

Melanie Pelton borrowed R72 000 from Capitec in March 2017 and in February 2020 they sent her an SMS that her credit life insurance policy on her loan had been cancelled.

“I am very disappointed at the way I have been treated as a client,” the Pelican Park woman said.

“I was a loyal client until two years ago when I broke my ankle and was at home for three months. I went to the Wynberg branch to apply for credit insurance to cover my loan for temporary disability. They told me they cannot assist me. I was connected to the relevant department and they offered me almost like ‘a payment holiday’ where I paid R500 a month on my account. I was so ignorant and they didn’t assist me at all to get action. I then refused to make payments on the account as I was unjustly treated and they did not keep to the credit insurance agreement.

“In March 2019 I lost my job because the company was struggling to pay my salary and a month after I left, they closed. I went to Capitec a few times seeking assistance or advice from them. They refused to assist me and later I received debt collection calls from Capitec.

“I told them that I was unemployed and in the process of looking for a job. They forced me to make payment arrangement knowing that I didn’t have an income. I became so stressed out and later suffered from thyroid problems due to the financial strain,” said Ms Pelton.

She said Capitec cancelled her credit life insurance without warning, or her knowledge.

Ms Pelton found employment in September 2019 but she was still on probation and said she would “resume payment once I am permanent”.

“I have been paying for years without noticing a difference in the loan. I refused to make any further payment as I feel there are a lot of irregularities with the credit agreement and it feels like they are exploiting me for more money. I don’t understand how a loan can stay the same if I had been paying over R3 500 for three years. It can’t be interest that I was paying for all that time. I need the credit insurance to cover me what is due on the account and for Capitec to take accountability for their part and pay up.”

Capitec said that their credit insurance claims team are unaware of the alleged payment holiday given to Ms Pelton.

“Our agent contacted centralised collection and was advised that Ms Pelton visited the Wynberg branch on November 3 2017 and made a partial payment arrangement, one of three she made.

“We would never force a client to make an arrangement, Ms Pelton, would be made aware of the disadvantages of not making an arrangement. A note would be left on the client’s account to advise that she cannot afford to make any payment arrangements,” Capitec said.

Ms Pelton was granted credit life insurance and she was covered for death and retrenchment benefits. “We would only be able to advise of the covered amount once the claim has been assessed and found valid,” the bank said.

The bank’s collections department said a letter was posted to the client on September 2018; an SMS was sent to her on February 6 2019 stating if no payment is sent, her account will be handed over. The last SMS, informing her that the account would be handed over was sent on February 11 2019. The last premium payment received from the client was on June 24 2019 then any payments that was received, the client discussed it with the branch.

“Our collections team said they called Ms Pelton on several occasions and she would either not answer or she would ask to be called back at a different time.

The last contact we had with her was on January 10 2020 when Ms Pelton made her third partial payment arrangement and advised that she would call back in March to make a rescheduling payment arrangement.

Ms Pelton contacted the team on several occasions to change her pay date.

“The contact centre managed to get hold of Ms Pelton to give her feedback which she did not dispute. She asked for details of the debt collection agency to whom she was handed over on February 6 2020 and said she would make payment arrangement with them,” Capitec said.