Ann Crotty Writer-at-large

A ruling by the National Consumer Tribunal looks set to wipe out much of Edcon’s R400m-a-year club-fee income. Although a financial sanction, such as an administrative fine and refund of fees, is still to be announced, the ruling has grim implications, given Edcon’s financial situation. On Tuesday, the tribunal ruled that the club fees charged by Edcon to credit customers were unlawful and contravened the National Credit Act. The National Credit Regulator’s (NCR’s) Lebogang Selibi said it would approach Edcon about an independent audit of its loan book to establish the number of consumers to be refunded and the amount to be repaid. The refunds could date back to 2007, when the act came into effect. A spokesman for Edcon said management was studying the judgment and would appeal against the order. "Edcon has always contended that the club product is a stand-alone product, which entitles voluntarily signed-up members to a number of benefits, including preferential rates and savings." ...

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