South African online retailer Homechoice has been accused of debiting the accounts of South Africans without permission.
Homechoice is an online retailer which offers products on cash and allows its customers to open credit accounts to pay back products over the course of three, six, 12, or 16 months.
MyBroadband has received a number of complaints from readers who said that despite never encountering Homechoice before, their bank accounts have been debited for various amounts by the retailer.
The reference attached to these debit orders contained the phrase “HOMECHOICERID”, leading hundreds of disgruntled South Africans to complain to Homechoice and to their own banks about the money that had disappeared from their accounts.
The Homechoice Hellopeter page reveals that over the past two days, there has been a flood of potentially fraudulent activity through the retailer, with many South Africans complaining through this avenue.
The MyBroadband reader who complained of his account being debited without permission said he had never heard of the retailer before an amount of R725.94 was debited from his account on 1 October.
Additionally, the surge of complaints seen on Hellopeter and social media over the past two days is not the first time Homechoice has been accused of taking money from South Africans without permission.
Years of complaints
From at least as far back as 2017, a number of South Africans have complained of being debited by HomeChoice without their permission.
“Homechoice has been debiting unauthorised amounts from my account on the seventh day of every month. Firstly I do not have a home choice account and I have never had one, secondly, the amounts keep changing every month as well as the reference number,” one user said in 2017.
“Homechoice should apply the same admin processes to verifying their customers as they do when you’re disputing their unauthorized debits orders,” another user said in August 2020. “In February, it was my partner who has been blacklisted because of non-payment of an account they never opened or used.”
Homechoice’s Hellopeter feed is 409 pages long, and while the complaints and praises are varied, there is at least one complaint regarding this same issue, and often many more, on each of the most recent 40 pages.
According to the website, the company has a TrustIndex rating of 2.3 out of 10 and a Net Promotor Score of -86.
Homechoice responded to the most recent flood of complainants on Hellopeter with the following:
We’re very sorry to hear about the poor service experienced.
Please give us an opportunity to get to the bottom of what went wrong so that we can resolve this.
A number of South Africans who banked with FNB reached out for support on Twitter, asking the bank how they could reverse this debit order.
FNB told one affected customer on Twitter that they should stop and reverse the transaction using the FNB app.
Homechoice dealing with customers directly
MyBroadband asked Homechoice for comment on these complaints.
The retailer did not address the queries sent by MyBroadband but said it takes these issues very seriously and will do its utmost to resolve any complaints as rapidly as possible.
“In order to achieve this aim, it is HomeChoice’s policy to not respond through third parties, but to rather investigate the root cause of the problem and then to rectify any issue directly with the customer,” it said.
FNB did not immediately respond to queries regarding whether it had seen an increase in complaints of fraudulent debit orders by Homechoice.