Net1 picks watchdog for dispute resolution
Neville Melville would act as an ombudsman in disputes pertaining to financial services and value-added products sold by subsidiaries of Net1 UEPS Technologies, the company said on Monday.
"We are aware of persistent public complaints about the functioning of our call centre and dispute-resolution process, which we have been unable to verify despite our best efforts," said newly appointed CEO Herman Kotzé.
He said he was delighted that Melville had agreed to establish an ombud function. "We are committed to providing our customers with outstanding service and we are confident that Neville’s vast experience will assist us in achieving our goals, while providing independent oversight and reporting."
Net1 has come under fire following allegations that its subsidiaries benefited unduly from the social grants contract administered by Cash Paymaster Services, also a Net1 company, by selling and marketing products such as micro loans and insurance to social grant recipients. This culminated in Net1 founder and CEO Serge Belamant stepping down at the end of May. He received a severance package of $8m.
Kotzé, previously the chief financial officer, has been with Net1 for 18 years. He is now functioning in two roles, as CEO and chief financial officer, while the company searches for his replacement.
"The services provided by [Melville] will include receiving complaints from customers, including social-grant recipients, seeking any outstanding information necessary for a decision and settling the complaints by way of conciliation, mediation, fact finding or decision binding upon [Net1]," it said.
"The ombudsman will function independently from the company’s established query and dispute resolution process."
At present, Melville is the consumer goods and services ombudsman, having served as the banking ombud for seven years.
He attended a community meeting as an independent observer in the Western Cape on Monday, together with Net1 representatives and Grindrod Bank, relating to complaints raised by social grant recipients.
Net1 said it expected to publish the ombudsman’s terms of reference, reporting obligations, contact details and a customer service charter before the end of June.