OUTA notes the media statement by the Electronic Tolling Company (ETC) earlier this week, who stated in reaction to OUTA’s earlier claims of SMS harassment, that “Continued distortion of the true facts and bluster by entities purporting to be all knowing is starting to wear thin. SANRAL has stated that the recovery of public money will be ongoing and that there will be consequences for non-payment.”
OUTA’s response to this statement is that we couldn’t care less if our statements are wearing thin for ETC. The facts of the matter are clear and there is not one ounce of distortion in our claims. The ETC, SANRAL and / or the ITC Business Administrators have not answered the questions or claims we have made which are as follows:-
- Why are the direct employees at one of their debt collectors, ITC Business Administrators, providing false information about where they are employed?
- Why are these debt collectors unable to answer the question when asked “what vehicle listing and what legal action will be taken by them, if I refuse to settle my e-toll account”.
We reiterate that this conduct is in contravention of rule 5.3(b) of the Debt Collectors Code of Conduct, which reads: ‘In collecting or attempting to collect a claim a debt collector shall not: misrepresent the true nature of his or her business, or threaten to institute legal proceedings, whether civil or criminal, if there is no intention to carry out such a threat.’
SANRAL’s desperate e-toll debt collection process has recently included the sending of thousands of threatening SMS’s, which have been labeled as harassment and intimidation by the public. There is no escaping this fact and if they are unable to answer the questions truthfully, we see this as a serious transgression of the Debt Collection regulations.
Furthermore, the recipients of these SMS’s are not contracted to SANRAL and they have no right to inundate the public with messages of this nature, without them having given consent to do so and without an opt-out option. OUTA is also following up on information, which raises additional and serious concerns as to how this public data has been obtained by SANRAL and the ETC. Companies and agents who act outside the regulations stand to lose their licenses and / or be fined for their misconduct. OUTA will be pursuing the necessary action accordingly.
“These bully-boy tactics and misinformation by SANRAL and its collection processes is nothing new,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s Chairperson. “They did the same in 2014 and failed to coerce enough people to take up their e-tag offers. Now its happening again, only this time around, two years after the e-toll scheme’s launch the unpaid e-toll ‘ring-fenced’ debt amounts to almost R6 billion. They are now three months into their new dispensation and we estimate that less than 5% of the e-toll defaulters have taken up their 60% discount offer to settle the outstanding debt.
SANRAL is extremely desperate to show the Minister of Transport that their dispensation plan has been successful. It is clear to us that a low percentage of the two million plus e-toll defaulters have acceded to this offer which, if this remains the case by the end of April, will be a significant blow and probably a deciding factor on whether the Minister will allow their final ‘stick’ to come into play – being the withholding of vehicle licenses. Unless the Minister can be extremely convinced that the e-toll scheme is ever to become a viable and efficient user pays mechanism, it would be an unwise and dangerous step to allow e-toll revolt to spill-over into the vehicle licensing arena.”