Telkom directory used to dupe small business owners
Small businesses which fell prey to a phone directory listings scam, and have endured relentless threats of legal action and “blacklisting” should not pay up.
Consumer Ninja Wendy Knowler explains how the scam works and why you should not pay them.
They're still printing phone books. It's playing into the hands of a group of not-so-ethically- minded individuals. They call themselves different things at different times. They have a team of people going through directories all over the country. They look for the bold entries because that means it's a business and they're paying a bit extra to have it put in bold. I know this is very 1970. They then call those businesses. The businesses range from service stations, small B & Bs, medical practices. They say we're phoning from Telkom we're just checking on your entry, we need to send you a form to make sure the next entry is correct. The form then has a chunk of tiny small print that says this has nothing to do with Telkom it is a separate company. You are agreeing to pay a year's subscription upfront - R9000 - you can cancel in five days. But they don't know that they've been had in five days. You're going to get the listing in some obscure directory that nobody's ever going to look at. Then you get the bill. They have a 'debt collecting company'. They hand you over to this crowd, and badger you, threaten you with blacklisting...Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist
My advice is do not pay, do not give in to demands. I tell people three or four times a day; please - number one - read the small print, especially the very small print. Ignore the harassment - report it to the council for debt collectors. In three-plus years I've not had a single case of blacklisting or follow- through. It's pure intimidation.Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist
LIsten to the full interview about the subscription scam below.
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